As early as August 2014 there were reports that match fixing had been corrupting the professional gaming environment of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The retributive charge was led by DailyDot journalist Richard Lewis and his feature titled ‘Leaked screengrabs hint of match-fixing at CEVO‘ which instantly became a huge topic of controversy in the Counter-Strike community.
Although Lewis had evidence to back up his argument, it wasn’t enough to sway the opinion of many. So, for the past five months he has been scorned by thousands of players who weren’t happy with his findings, many of which said there wasn’t enough proof, and that he was bad at his job.
But he would get the last laugh.
Lewis’ newer article that was published on January 16th was supported with much more evidence. His conclusion remained the same: several high-profile CS: GO players have engaged in not one, but several cases of match fixing. The article held enough weight that it gained the attention of Valve, CS: GO‘s developer.
Just 10 days after Lewis’ latest article was published, Valve responded with hard justice. After investigating the allegations, the studio found seven players guilty of match fixing, and published a blog post to announce its findings, which included the following:
We can confirm, by investigating the historical activity of relevant accounts, that a substantial number of high valued items won from that match by Duc “cud” Pham were transferred ( via Derek “dboorn” Boorn ) to iBUYPOWER players and NetCodeGuides founder, Casey Foster.
The punishment was a lifetime ban from Valve-sponsored events. ESA and other organizations have followed suit, instituting bans of their own, effectively rendering all seven players unable to compete in any professional manner.
All seven perpetrators have been banned from ESEA for one year.
For those unfamiliar, gambling is a common element in the competitive side of CS: GO. Using third-party websites, players are able to bet their in-game weapon skins against other players. These skins hold real world value on Steam’s Market system. In other words, there are thousands of dollars waged in bets using in-game items. In the case of the fixed matches in question, there was more than $10,000 at stake.
What the perpetrators had done is agreed to set a winner for a match beforehand before betting large sums of valuables on the match knowing that they’ll walk away with items they consider much more valuable than the match itself.
Several of the accused have come out after the punishment. Here is just one example made by Braxton “Swag” Pierce, one of the several professional CS: GO players who have had their career ruined by the judgement.
First and foremost I want to apologize to all the fans and sponsors I let down. I was aware of what was happening and allowed it to happen without saying anything. Stealing from people is wrong, and I got what I deserved. I just wanted to reach out to people online and formally apologize because I feel like it is owed. I feel it is important people know that I was not the benefactor from this scandal like some of the other players were. I received very few skins in comparison to some of the other players and I honestly don’t know why as I could careless about skins. If you’ve seen my inventory I still use half of the default skins. I understand by taking one skin, I am wrong, and should be banned. I just wanted the public to know my level of involvement was no where near the person organizing this. This is very unfortunate for me moving forward but the ban was necessary in order to set a precedent for future players to come. I hope one day valve may have mercy on me and let me compete again. Until then I am deeply sorry to all my fans and everyone that supported me that I was involved in this, and not just because we got caught.
Valve is clearly trying to set an example that match fixing can’t be tolerated. It has affected the legitimacy of sports such as college basketball in years past, and Valve is making sure that anyone who does it in CS: GO knows that if they’re caught, their days of competitive CS are over.
As much as the justice is sweet, it has very negative ramifications on the North American culture of CS: GO. As it already stands, Europe has fared far better in the competitive scene. This past weekend the French LDLC and Swedish Ninjas in Pajamas were the two teams that faced off in the grand championship. But no matter how negative the impact is on North American CS, upholding a reputation for legitimate competition is the number one concern for Valve, and rightfully so.