the News desk.
|Match fixing exposed in eSports
| Lifetime ban
for 21 players
A flood of money into the
eSport world has brought an unexpected innovation in the way players are
cashing in (and cashing out) in the vast virtual world of online gaming
Long an unfortunate fixture in other professional sports
like boxing, snooker, basketball, football and even golf, the eSports world
isnt immune from the phenomenon. In fact, a case from earlier this year
shows just how deeply
match-fixing has embedded itself
in global competition and how seriously sponsors are treating the problem.
Game developer and competition sponsor Valve announced that 21
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players who were accused of willingly
participating in match-fixing in competitive matches back in early 2015, have
been permanently banned from the professional gaming events.
|According to Valve, the
bans were imposed on seven players after their accounts were investigated
following a match between NetcodeGuides and iBUYPOWER. Valve learned that the
players exchanged several high-value items among themselves after the
However, the motive of match-fixing was not just to trade items
among each other. Instead, bets valued at $10,000 were also placed on players
and they received around $7,000 worth of skins too.
underscores a major problem with online multiplayer games, which is that they
have an in-game economy which allows players to trade off high-value items for
real money. Its created a fertile ground for illegal betting as some
players risk their reputation and career to get these high-value items from
DOTA 2, Valves second most popular competitive
game, has also seen its fair share of scandals. Back in 2013, a Russian player
named Aleksey Solo Berezin bet against his own team in a major
event and won $322. Since then, the number 322 has become
synonymous with bad plays and is a common nickname for players who deliberately
throw away a game for money.
A similar 322 scandal came into the
spotlight back in 2014 after MSI Evolution and Mineski, two popular DOTA 2
teams from Philippines, were accused of match fixing. The matches were played
between Team Immunity and Mineski and another between MSI and Mineski. Since
these were Star Ladder games, both teams found it more profitable to trade the
playoff spot for money.
This may explain why Valve has finally decided
to take stern action and dish out harsh punishment on players involved in
match-fixing or illegal betting. By bringing down the hammer on the 21 CS:GO
players with a permanent ban, Valve intends to set an example to discourage
players from engaging in such illicit acts.
should ideally have dissuaded all professional eSports athletes around the
world from engaging in match-fixing. However, another scandal has rocked the
world of eSports this year.
The latest scandal happened in South Korea,
where a famous eSports athlete hatched an ingenious plot to increase earnings
through match-fixing. The player is none other than Lee Life Seung
Hyun, a favorite for this years season of World Championship Series
StarCraft II, and inarguably one of the best StarCraft players in the world.
Life was detained by police for several hours and was also
questioned by match-fixing investigators for his alleged involvement in illegal
betting and match-fixing. Theres a reason why this scandal is bigger than
the ones that shocked the online gaming world last year.
players who were implicated in match-fixing scandals were low-tier profiles
like Team Prime or waning superstars like Ma sAviOr Yoon.
Life, on the other hand, is a big name in the world of eSports and
his involvement should be enough to open the industrys eyes to the
growing problem of match-fixing.
The report, as translated by Team
Liquid, alleges Lee "Life" Seung Hyun received 70,000,000 South Korean won
(roughly $60,000) to intentionally lose two matches in May 2015, and Bung
"Bbyong" Woo Yong, 23, was paid the equivalent of $26,000 to throw one in
January of this year. Another former StarCraft pro, Sun "Enough" Jun Mo, 34,
was accused of being Life's benefactor, and also of profiting from bets on the
Six others, characterized as those who made the payoffs,
others who brokered the arrangements, and a third who bet on the inside
information to win money, were also indicted. An 11th person, described as a
financial backer, is at large and has yet to be indicted.
Life, 19, is
a 10-time tournament champion with victories in the Intel Extreme Masters, the
Blizzard Cup, Major League Gaming and other circuits. For purposes of
comparison, his winnings in 2015's premier and major-class tournamentswere
$110,000, or about $50,000 more than he was allegedly paid to tank the two
This investigation began in January following the apprehension
of a broker connected to an earlier case from October, in which another 11 were
indicted and two players from the same team, Prime, were handed lifetime bans
by the Korean eSports Association, or KeSPA. In that case, Sun ("Enough") has
already been convicted and was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for
The latest report describes in detail how the fixes were
arranged and paid off. Brokers reached out to pro gamers under the pretense of
being fans, and after striking up a relationship, arranged meetings with the
financial backers for the purpose of fixing games. These brokers later
transmitted the funds to the pros on the take, and placed bets for the backers,
using multiple online betting sites to place multiple bets on the same match.
Bets paid out at roughly 1.3 to 1.5 times the the original amount, and the
largest individual bet was 1 million won, or roughly $87,000.