Top Counter-Strike Players Caught In Big Cheating Scandal

Top Counter-Strike Players Caught In Big Cheating Scandal

To say that all is not well in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘s pro scene would be a massive understatement. Multiple pros have been caught cheating by Valve’s official anti-cheat software, and even more are suspected.

It all started when a semi-pro German player named Simon “smn” Beck got banned by the E-Sports Entertainment Association’s tools. Given that he’d clearly slipped past Valve’s own anti-scoundrel digi-wall, this got the Counter-Strike (and Half-Life and Team Fortress and DOTA 2 and Steam) maker curious. Valve reached out and, with the information they acquired from the ESEA, upgraded their own anti-cheat detection system.

And then, suddenly, people started getting caught with a very new type of red on their hands. Not blood. Oh no, by Counter-Strike standards, this was much worse. Third-party tools that assist players with aim. In some cases, they can help with very difficult shots.

The highest-profile cases involved Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian, a player for bigtime team Titan, and Gordon “SF” Giry from another big team called Epsilon. Around the same time both were initially caught, Beck put out a list of other CS pros he alleged frequently utilise hacks — some of whom are on the world’s best teams — and also explained, to some extent, how the hack works.

He further claimed that 40 per cent of pros derive their otherworldly skills from hacks and tools. Admittedly that’s one person’s claim and should be taken with a grain (or boulder) of salt, but it’s quite a goddamn claim. Other players of note have yet to receive VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) bans, so there’s a chance he was exaggerating.

Meanwhile, KQLY was cut from Titan after they conducted their own investigation, determining that he used a tool for a week outside of a competitive context but that they could no longer trust him. KQLY issued his own statement, in which he claimed to have only used the tool before joining Titan, but that it was a “stupid move” nonetheless. As translated from French here, he said, “I wanted to say that I’m really sorry for all the people who supported me. I’m aware that with this bullshit, my career is over and that my team is in a really bad situation.”

Epsilon followed suit, giving SF the boot in short order. They explained in a post on their website: “We have carried out a quick investigation along with information from Valve, and have also received an admittance of guilt from SF himself. This means that we have moved quickly to remove SF and make sure that we act in a manner that suits this situation.”

This comes at a terrible (or very good, depending on how you look at) time, given that one of eSports’ biggest events, DreamHack Winter 2014, is happening this weekend. DreamHack plans to take “special precautions” to prevent further twitchy fingered shenanigans. On top of that, despite the fact that Titan and Epsilon canned their respective bad apples, both teams are banned from participating in the competition this year.

The Counter-Strike community is abuzz with the news, with some convinced that a bit of smoke means everything is on fire. There are now websites dedicated to monitoring Counter-Strike pro accounts for VAC bans. People are not happy. As PC Gamer reported, other luminaries of the scene — for instance, commentator Duncan “Thooorin” Shields — are calling for an end to the witch hunt.

However, Shields also claimed that this cheat, which allegedly involves Steam’s mod-centric Workshop, is particularly insidious in its subtlety. “It’s a cheat that doesn’t even have an extreme effect, unless you really abuse it,” he said. “It has layers to it where it can just give you a slight advantage in aiming. So if you’re already one of the best players in the world, it will make it so you just look like you’re having your best game. It won’t even seem like you’re hacking and that was an impossible movement.”

For obvious reasons, this calls the accomplishments of many of Counter-Strike‘s best and brightest into question. Their greatest hits, their biggest wins, their slickest no-scopes. It’s a terrible state for any pro sporting scene to be in, not unlike the discovery that an alarmingly high number of top-tier MMA fighters have used performance enhancing drugs or, perhaps most infamously, the recent doping scandal at the highest levels of pro cycling.

Detecting the veritable Swiss murder knife bouquet of cheats/hacks in online games is extremely difficult, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. I would hope that most players dislike the idea of cheating to get ahead, but it’s tough to say at this point — and, well, that’s never stopped people in other sports before. One thing’s for sure: the Counter-Strike eSports scene has some tough times ahead. Here’s hoping it can pull its boots out of this mucky business and give people what they want: a good, fair show.


  • People play the new counter strike competitively? The new cs is a joke, there’s multiple videos around of hits not registering and games doing odd things.

    • Correct, CS1.6 is the only legit pro version. CSS introduced a glitch in the new source engine which meant that bullet-tracking was a lot less reliable than 1.6.

      • I played mainly cs 1.6, I got used to css and played a lot of that but I agree there were times in that where you’d just shake your head or have to admit that you got a cheap kill. I tried out go though and it was like css times 100. Found a bunch of people complaining and posting videos on valves site about the issues but valve kept deleting them or ignoring them.

  • During their period of dominance in the early 00s, the Brisbane Lions were at the forefront of player recovery. They’d take saline drips during half time to rehydrate. They’d use hyperbaric chambers to get an edge. All of this was above board at the time. Some of it has since been outlawed by the AFL.

    There’s no real equivalent of this in esports. Anything even remotely along those lines is (rightfully) outlawed.

    Strangely, more traditional approaches for player improvement are not as common as they could be. Some of the major teams hire sports psychologists and some players go to the physio to deal with wrist issues.

    Before The International 4 this year, Team Liquid took on a new player that was sponsored by Red Bull. Red Bull basically put them through a traditional pre-season (like you’d see in most team sports) and TL performed well above expectations. They weren’t just grinding out games in a team house, which is the norm. They were doing all sorts of team building exercises.

    Imagine what would happen if other teams started doing this.

    • I remember the Brisbane Lions in the early ’00’s… They were such a force, and almost every one of them built like a truck.

        • Yeah, I was a bombers supporter back then, I remember devastation in the 2001 GF after our team was dominant. Bloody Brisbane. Then we snapped up Mal Michaels who didn’t do anything for us.

          • That’s because he retired to do charity work in Papua New Guinea.

            Nope. No bitterness about that here whatsoever.

  • There’s also the recent drama of someone getting banned (1 year) for making a rape joke at the expense of another player.

    Man, this is really a negative light on something that has an air of toxic attitudes that people have been trying to reduce.

  • I don’t really know anything about e-sports. How does this help them, in the long run? Surely they’re not allowed to use their own PCs for the actual big-money tournaments?

    • If it’s a Steam-Workshop mod then using your own Steam account (allowed) is all you need to do. The mod would be downloaded onto the computer along with any other legit mods as well. If “40%” of professionals are using it the 2nd guy on the same computer wouldn’t even need to download it again.

  • HAHA! That’ll teach CS players for ruining the FPS genre for well over a decade.

    It’s YOUR fault that every f*cking FPS between 2000 and about March this year has been a bro-tastic ‘squat to shoot straight’ military team based pile of boring garbage.

    Don’t worry though real gamers, the Y-axis is back from its post Quake III purgatory to undo the damage that CS did. No wonder all the CS n00bs are busting out the aim bots to deal with this newly re-found verticality!

    Jumping to crazy heights, using weapons that have lasers n’ shit! Titanfall, Halo, Destiny…. hell even COD has magic rocket packs now! Your time is done CS, go back to your mothers basement!

    /insane rant

    • I… feel like you could replace CS with CoD in your rant but then I remember CoD has always had heavy aim-assist that you could confuse it for a mod.

      Hahaha! I’m being mean, but really that 1887 shotgun in MW2 required no aiming 😛

      • CS was really a precursor to the whole COD thing as I view it.

        It’s not really a rant if you get too nuanced about the whole thing!

        I remember booting up GameSpy sometime in the very late 90’s to play Quake 2, seeing the number of packed CS servers that were up compared to the Quake 2 servers and thinking “WTF is happening to this genre? Don’t these people love rocket jumps!?”…. little did I know it would be the beginning of a long purgatory for my favourite style of shooter.

        • It was slightly revived with Halo, albeit going for a slower more strategic approach. Then people saw how broken the Magnum was and based their entire playstyle around CoD killtimes >:

          Then it was revived again with Gears of War, albeit going for a cover based shooter. Then people saw how broken the Gnasher was and based their entire playstyle around CoD killtimes >:

    • Hahahaha, Titanfall Halo and Destiny. Those are your three go-to games? How’s the competitive scene for those 3 games? Sorry say again? non existant? Fuck I wonder why…

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