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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

ESIC involves FBI in North American match-fixing investigation

The Commissioner of the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), Ian Smith, has revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now involved in the ongoing investigation into match-fixing in North American Counter-Strike, which has been underway since September 2020.

Mr. Smith stated that the investigation is covering two groups: one consisting of players who bet on themselves when the opportunity struck, and one group of players who were bribed by outside “betting syndicates” in order to fix matches in an organised fashion.

“It is part of a far bigger investigation, which is going to take us a little bit longer, unfortunately, which is that… there has been, amongst a relatively small but significant group of players, over a long period of time, organized match-fixing in North American MDL,” the ESIC Commissioner explained in an interview with CS:GO content creator “slash32”.

“We are, to some extent, working with law enforcement, working with the FBI, who only recently have had a sports betting investigative unit within the FBI. They’re good, but they are inexperienced because sports betting hasn’t really been a thing in America until recently, so everybody is kind of finding their feet on that one.”

The findings of the first subsection of the investigation, Mr. Smith added, should be made public “within the next ten days to two weeks”. He added that the commission has “really good corroborating evidence” of wrongdoing and that the players will be banned “for a very, very long time”. In January, 35 players were banned for periods ranging from 12 months to five years for betting-related offences in Australian events.

“The first part we’ll deal with quite quickly, because… we’re dealing with idiots, basically,” Mr. Smith said.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Vitality fined $10,000 by ESIC for breach of code

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued Vitality a $10,000 fine as a result of their breach of the commission’s code, after the team were found to have the stream playing in the background while they were playing matches against Liquid and Complexity at BLAST Premier Global Final.

After assessing the VOD and player camera footage, ESIC found no evidence of the players being given information from the stream or that they gained an advantage in their matches due to the rulebreaking.

The Vitality organization has been issued a $10,000 fine

As a result of the findings, the esports watchdog has concluded that the organization’s staff, who were viewing the stream in the lounge area of their office behind the team, should be held responsible instead of the team itself and decided not to disqualify, suspend, or ban Vitality.

“ESIC’s assessment of the VOD footage and player camera footage does not suggest that the players were given information derived from the stream or that they gained any advantage in their matches as a result of the Code violation by the organisation,” a statement from ESIC reads. “Team Vitality’s management has accepted responsibility for the breach.”

“ESIC’s decision to fine the organisation rather than disqualify, suspend or ban the team is predicated on ESIC’s review of the evidence which indicates that taking an action in the alternative would have been a disproportionate and unfair outcome for the negligence of the organisation’s staff, who, whilst negligent, had no intentional malice in their actions.”

In December, ESIC released a statement revealing that it found that the practice of stream-sniping — watching the stream live during own matches — had been widespread online. The commission decided against taking action at the time because the resulting ban wave would have a devastating impact on the landscape but promised that it would enforce a zero-tolerance policy from then on.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

ESIC issues 35 bans for betting-related offences in Australia

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has announced that it has banned 35 players for periods ranging from 12 months to five years for breaches of its Anti-Corruption Code in member events in Australia. These bans are in addition to the sanctions handed down to seven players in October for placing bets on ESEA MDL Australia matches.

The offences include betting on an individual’s own team and against it. ESIC noted, however, that it has not yet made a ruling on whether there have been acts of match-fixing as the investigation — which is being carried out in conjunction with law enforcement — is still ongoing.

Akram “⁠ADK⁠” Smida and Daryl “⁠Mayker⁠” May, two of the players suspended on October 23, have had their bans increased to 24 and 48 months, respectively, “following newly-available evidence”.

ESIC added that “the presence of collusive behaviour by close associates” of the offending parties was detected during the course of the investigation. These non-player associates, who in several instances “placed identical bets to those placed by the offending parties”, have also been referred to the authorities.

While analysing the data at its disposal, ESIC created a sanctions matrix with five levels to ensure that the bans were “were consistent and proportional to the offences”. You can find that matrix below:

Betting on matches – 12 months
Betting on own games – 24 months
Aggravated betting (over 10 matches) – 36 months
Betting against team – 48 months
Aggravated betting against own team – 60 months

Below is the complete list of people who have been banned by ESIC for betting offences in Australia since October:

Australia Jeremy “⁠motion⁠” Lloyd – 12 months
Portugal Patrick “⁠Falcon⁠” Desousa – 12 months
Australia Johnathan “⁠Del⁠” Sackesen – 12 months
Australia Grayson “⁠vax⁠” Uppington – 12 months
Australia Aidan “⁠Meta⁠” Wiringi Jones – 12 months
New Zealand Kaito “⁠MinusTheCoffee⁠” Massey – 12 months
Australia Mason “⁠MSN⁠” Trevaskis – 12 months
Australia Johnny “⁠jcg⁠” Grima – 12 months
Australia Isaac “⁠Prodigy⁠” Dahlan – 12 months
Australia Billy “⁠BeeTee⁠” Thomson – 12 months
Australia Kieren “⁠Muzoona⁠” Jackson – 12 months
Australia Matthew “⁠ZILLA⁠” Zdilar – 12 months
Australia James “⁠Roflko⁠” Lytras – 12 months
Australia Damon “⁠damyo⁠” Portelli – 12 months
New Zealand Jak “⁠jtr⁠” Robinson – 12 months
Australia Daniel “⁠rekonz⁠” Mort – 12 months
Australia Nicolas “⁠lato⁠” Gullotti – 12 months
Australia Marcus “⁠MDK⁠” Kyriazopoulos – 12 months
Australia Joel “⁠PEARSS⁠” Kurta – 12 months
Australia James “⁠Jamie⁠” Macphail – 12 months
Australia Ionica “⁠Bowie⁠” T. – 12 months
Australia Joshua “⁠Joshaaye⁠” Wilson – 12 months
Australia Ryan “kragz” Clarke – 12 months
Australia Stephen “⁠stvn⁠” Anastasi – 12 months *
Australia Damian “⁠JD⁠” Simonovic – 12 months *
Australia Carlos “⁠Rackem⁠” Jefferys – 12 months *
Australia Joshua “⁠jhd⁠” Hough-Devine – 12 months *
Australia Corey “⁠nettik⁠” Browne – 12 months *
Australia Roman “⁠matr1kz⁠” Santos – 24 months
Australia Cailan “⁠Caily⁠” Lovegrove – 24 months
Australia Akram “⁠ADK⁠” Smida – 24 months *
Australia Andy “⁠Noobster⁠” Zhang – 36 months
Australia Jayden “⁠foggers⁠” Graham – 48 months
Australia Sam “⁠Tham⁠” Mitchell – 48 months
New Zealand M. “⁠Habbo Hotel⁠” Poduje – 48 months
Australia Samuel “⁠samy⁠” Jarvis – 48 months
Australia Daniel “⁠Deezy⁠” Zhang – 48 months
Australia John “⁠wots⁠” Zhu – 48 months
Australia Daryl “⁠Mayker⁠” May – 48 months *
Australia Matthew “⁠Jam⁠” Castro – 60 months
Indonesia Alvin “⁠Gravinz⁠” Changgra – 60 months
Indonesia Wilson “⁠willyKS⁠” Sugianto – 60 months

*Bans started on October 23, 2020

These bans will have effect across ESIC’s members, which include ESL, DreamHack and BLAST. The esports watchdog association called on non-member tournament organisers to honour these sanctions.

ESIC underlined the need for “a unified understanding of the implications of inappropriate betting behaviour and observance of anti-corruption mechanisms” to prevent esports from “facilitating attractive fraud opportunities for bad actors”. It also reminded that “professional players (at the very least)” should refrain from placing bets on the game from which they earn an income “in order to preserve the integrity of the esports landscape internationally and mitigate the potential for bad actors to take advantage of our sport.”

The watchdog association added that it is still conducting other investigations into potential betting offences in “a number of other CS:GO leagues, including leagues located in North America and Europe, and a significant number of other leagues in multiple game titles.” Further updates on these probes and the cooperation with law enforcement authorities will be issued “as and when it is appropriate to do so”, ESIC said.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

pita’s ESIC ban reduced to 5.5 months

Former NiP coach Faruk “⁠pita⁠” Pita has revealed that the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has reduced his 10-month ban for using the spectator bug by 45 per cent.

The 30-year-old coach, who was banned in September for using the bug in two ESL Pro League Season 8 Europe matches in 2018, against Astralis and mousesports, said that the decision was reached after an appeal hearing on December 28. His confession was accepted in full and his attempts to report the bug to Valve through Twitter’s Direct Messages were perceived as him having shown assistance in the investigation.

pita has seen his ban reduced by ESIC

“The commissioner said during the hearing that he had sympathy with me because the bug ‘had come’ to me, and that he believed I acted correctly when I decided to stop it and report it to the developers,” pita wrote in a Twitlonger post.

“The reason why I wanted to share this is because, even though I did something terribly wrong, it feels ‘better’ knowing I did at least do something right in all of this. I guess.”

pita, who has not coached a team since leaving NiP in January 2020, said that he wishes to continue his career once his ban expires on March 13. Until then, he will not accept any offer as he wishes to respect ESIC’s suspension.

“I would like to say that I hope by the middle of March the community can accept me again,” he said. “If some of you don’t, I totally understand and respect it.

“I do hope I can come back and coach again. That’s what I love. Trying to help people become better at what they love. I have learned a lot these last seven years as a coach (mostly) and wish to continue learning. I do not want to go to any other game. CS has been my passion since 2001 and it still is.”

pita is the second coach to be successful in an appeal to ESIC since the esports watchdog group released the first set of substantial findings from its investigation into the historical use of the spectator bug, banning 37 people for up to 36 months. In October, Sergey “⁠lmbt⁠” Bezhanov saw his 7.5-month ban lifted by ESIC after he provided evidence in his defence.

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