Counter Strike: Global Offensive

ESIC confirms ongoing investigation into HUNDEN claims

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued a statement confirming that it is currently investigating claims that former Heroic coach Nicolai “⁠HUNDEN⁠” Petersen shared sensitive information with a competitor ahead of IEM Cologne without the knowledge of the team.

ESIC said that its preliminary findings indicate that, while HUNDEN “did engage in behaviour that could constitute a breach of the ESIC Integrity Program, the consequences of his behaviour had not impacted the tournament integrity of IEM Cologne.”

The esports watchdog echoed the statement made earlier on Thursday by ESL’s Senior Vice President of Product, Ulrich Schulze, who said that ESL’s investigation had shown there had been “no possible impact to the tournament integrity of IEM Cologne”. According to the tournament organiser, the contents of the folder shared by HUNDEN were “not accessed by the recipient”.

ESIC added that it now awaits any further evidence that may arise from the various seizures that have been carried out before ruling whether there have been violations of its Integrity Program. The esports watchdog will not make any further comments about the matter until the investigation has been completed.

Heroic announced on Thursday that it had launched legal proceedings against HUNDEN following what it described as “a clear breach” of his contract. According to the Danish organisation, the coach “had shared confidential and sensitive information from our strategy folder with a key individual at a major competitor prior to the tournament [IEM Cologne].”

Heroic added that HUNDEN‘s contract was terminated and expressed shock over his actions, highlighting how they had supported the coach during the eight-month ban that he served for using the spectator bug. The 30-year-old was reinstated as coach on April 30 after moving into an analyst position following his suspension.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, HUNDEN claimed that the only material that he shared was “anti-strat material of opponents” in the context of sparring. The Danish coach, who did not attend IEM Cologne with the team, said that he has “the biggest respect for Heroic” and that he “would never want to harm the team or in any way affect them negatively.”

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

ESIC forwards evidence to Valve related to potential betting fraud in Project X, Akuma matches

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) have received evidence that Oleksandr Shyshko, the CEO of Project X, has an active CS:GO betting account and has placed “numerous bets on highly suspicious Project X matches”. The betting took place at a time when most of the current Akuma roster was playing under the Project X organization, which disbanded and ceased operations in March.

ESIC adds that Shyshko also made an accurate pre-match bet on the outcome of Virtus.proAkuma in EPIC League CIS 2021, a game at the center of cheating allegations aimed at the team led by Sergey “⁠Sergiz⁠” Atamanchuk. ESIC has forwarded the evidence received to Valve, and recommends ESIC-member Tournament Organizers to not include Akuma, a team made up of more than three current Akuma members, or any team associated with Oleksandr Shyshko in their competitions until an investigation is concluded.

ESIC forwarded evidence of potential betting fraud to Valve

The evidence was acquired through the Suspicious Betting Alert Network (SBAN), with ESIC determining that there was a “reasonable basis to believe that potential match-fixing and/or betting fraud behaviour was perpetrated”. As the tournaments in which the actions happened are not ESIC members, ESIC referred the matter to Valve for consideration.

“While ESIC has not undertaken a full investigation into the detail, extent, and validity of any particular instances of match-fixing behaviour and the perpetrators of such behaviour – information on hand would indicate that this is a matter worth investigating further,” the commissioner of ESIC, Ian Smith, explained in a statement.

“If ESIC did have jurisdiction, we would have opened a full investigation based on what we already know. ESIC has therefore referred the evidence available to us to Valve for further consideration,” Smith adds.

In the announcement, ESIC clarifies that it has “not sanctioned, nor does it currently plan to sanction any individual associated with its referral,” as they do not have the authority to conduct a full investigation. Unless otherwise instructed by Valve, their actions will be limited to “the referral of evidence, recommendations to members, and this statement”.

Akuma, an orgless, all-Ukrainian squad featuring AWPer Dmitriy “⁠SENSEi⁠” Shvorak, came into the spotlight in May. At the first CIS Regional Major Ranking (RMR) event of 2021, as the 12th highest seed at the tournament, Akuma made it to the playoffs and secured 2-0 victories over Natus Vincere and, placing third overall. Shortly after, clips from the tournament broadcast started to surface, pointing out suspicious eye movement and suggesting that players are gaining info from a second device.

Notable CIS players and community members, including Natus Vincere coach Andrey “⁠B1ad3⁠” Gorodenskiy, soon made their accusations public, after which fourteen of the sixteen teams that participated in EPIC League CIS released an open letter calling on Valve to investigate Akuma. The group suspects that the team “received live [match] data from third parties on external devices” in order to gain an unfair advantage, putting the competitive integrity and the results at the Major-qualifying event under question.

While another investigation involving Akuma adds more fuel to the public outrage against the Ukrainian team, ESIC’s findings have not verified the suspicions regarding them having access to live match data in the games played in the CIS RMR tournament.

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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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