Pro Cheating Fiasco Leads To Incredible Counter-Strike Final Match

Pro Cheating Fiasco Leads To Incredible Counter-Strike Final Match

After a huge cheating scandal that sent allegations — as opposed to Counter-Strike's normal weapon of choice, bullets — flying, this weekend's DreamHack 2014 pro finals produced one of the best matches Global Offensive has seen. It nearly didn't happen, however, thanks to, yep, more cheating.

In the wake of Valve's discovery that three high-profile pro Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players used hacks/tools, all eyes were on DreamHack this weekend. Two teams, Titan and Epsilon, were banned from competing outright, so people figured players would do their best to minimize shenanigans.

They were right, mostly — except when they were very, very wrong.

The weekend's big controversy came when infamous mega-team Fnatic found themselves dangling from a thread after a beatdown from eventual competition winners, LDLC. Matches were made up of two sets of 15 rapid-fire rounds, and LDLC was up 12-3 at the start of the second half. A few more rounds, and a comeback from Fnatic would have been impossible. So, under the white-hot lights of a community practically launching scrutiny lasers from their eyes, Fnatic whipped out its secret weapon: a thoroughly illegal exploit. This from a team receiving perhaps the most scepticism of all in the wake of the big cheating scandal, with the Internet digging up everything it can about a couple of the team's players.

tl;dr? Not a smart decision.

On the map Overpass, Fnatic had uncovered a "boost" — that is, a place where players can stand on top of each other to get a better view, a huge tactical advantage — that shouldn't have existed. It relied on an invisible (and erroneously added) pixel near the counter-terrorist team spawn point. Using this, Fnatic could get a look at nearly the whole map, terrorist team starting point included. They could also take some shots normally thought impossible. Unsurprisingly, they managed to turn the whole match around. Watch that here:

Here's where things get especially nutty: Valve collaborates with pro players to test maps. They're supposed to report these sorts of findings straight to the Counter-Strike creator, not save them up like a squirrel preparing for the coldest, most famine-ridden winter or an emergency moment in a pro squirrel Counter-Strike match. Coach Devilwalk later confessed that Fnatic had been holding onto that exploit for two months.

LDLC appealed their loss, as Fnatic had broken two big rules: no pixel-walking, and no exploits that render textures transparent. However, Fnatic returned fire with an appeal of their own, claiming LDLC had used a different illegal boost. After much deliberation a disappointingly under-prepared DreamHack ruled that a do-over of the whole match was the only fair solution.

Before this could happen, however, online backlash overwhelmed Fnatic, and they opted to drop out of the tournament altogether. Problem solved? Hardly. Fnatic will have a lot to answer for in the coming months. But in that moment, it was probably the best (and I use that word in its weakest possible form, perhaps after it's been fasting for a month or has appeared in headlines for hundreds of thousands of list-icles) course of action available.

So LDLC advanced, and the competition got back on track, culminating in a positively incredible showdown between LDLC and hometown (read: Sweden) heroes Ninjas in Pyjamas. I couldn't even count the number of momentum shifts, turnarounds, and life-or-death moments in this match. It was thrilling, nerve-wracking, a reminder of what a truly great spectator sport Counter-Strike can be. Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to watch via Twitch, in addition to the few thousand filling out the stadium, roaring and chanting as the action ebbed and flowed. You can see the whole thing in this video:

So many highlights. LDLC's Happy was a blur of precision brutality — part-ballerina, part-chainsaw. At the end of the first round, he had nearly double the kills of anybody else. There was also the moment where NiP shot through their own teammate — killing him instantly — to end an LDLC player's hot streak. Down on the scorecards, LDLC then tried the same tactic in a later round. It didn't work, and they just ended up with a pointless team kill on their hands. Later, in what was perhaps the best play of the whole game — back on Overpass, because these things practically write themselves — NiP managed to array smoke grenades such that they had a perfect path to the bomb site (one means of victory; the other, of course, is killing everyone on the opposing team) while LDLC was none-the-wiser.

In the end, after two gruelling halves and down-to-the-wire overtime — a mishmash of bizarre strategies and, eventually, sheer brute force — LDLC narrowly snatched victory (and $US100,000) from a team nobody expected to make it this far. While NiP is one of CSGO's most popular teams, they haven't exactly been at the top of their game in recent times. Team captain Fifflaren recently dove from the sinking titanic, with replacement Maikelele taking the wheel only a few weeks ago. The new team lineup had potential, but it wasn't the sort of machine — Terminator-like in its efficacy — these tournaments demand yet.

And yet, the new NiP grew in the spotlight. A semi-final match against Virtus.Pro resulted in another one of the best, closest games of the tournament, with players like GeT-RiGhT and f0rest making gorgeous plays while Maikelele racked up kill after kill with terrifying precision.

It was a great event, even with some technical troubles on the broadcast, dead air here and there, and of course, the cheating. Doubtless, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's eSports scene is still in a weird spot, with major teams slinking off in shame right and left, but DreamHack's firework-filled conclusion served as a reminder that there's greatness beneath all the muck. Time will tell how this all shakes out, but I dearly hope we're able to see more matches of this calibre. These moments — where skills, personalities, and stories collide, pushing madly forward, never even chancing a look back — are what sporting's all about.

Kudos to RPS, whose report helped me fill in a lot of background details.


    26:50 mark where you first see the boost exploit.

    " It relied on an invisible (and erroneously added) pixel near the counter-terrorist team spawn point."
    *clipping point, not a pixle. They are common and valve doesn't care unless it causes major issues.
    They might fix it 6 years later, like with the obvious 2fort issues.

      Naw. This'll be out of the game within a couple of weeks at most (probably in the very next patch). Fixes to maps to remove exploits are extremely frequent (when needed) with CS:GO. This one in particular disrupted a major tournament (which Valve invested money into themselves). CS:GO's a little different than TF2 on account of being a much more serious competitive game with lots of big tournaments. Fixing this kind of stuff is therefore a much higher priority.

      Last edited 02/12/14 3:50 pm

    I don't like watching pro-gamers play. By the time they've killed someone and moved on I've just seen the person they've killed

    Except Fnatic never cheated and only used a position that would have been 100% fine, should some other bugs, which were never abused, not exist.

    Watch this for an explanation from Dream Hack. Pixelwalking was not against the DHW rules and no one abused that invisible texture bug.

    People are just on a witch hunt to convict Fnatic of cheating when there is no solid evidence to say that they ever have in any shape or form...

    It disgusts me that Kotaku reports these lies as facts and saddens me that the CS:GO ( community may be destroying one of the world's best teams for no reason.

    Last edited 02/12/14 5:18 pm

      Standing somewhere that creates a transparency bug or immortality bug is against the tournament rules, regardless of whether or not it's actually used. That's explained in the exact video you linked. LDLC used a spot that can create a similar bug. It was against the tournament rules and had a major impact on the outcome of the match. You're saying it's not cheating, but the video you linked explained that it WAS against the rules - just not for the specific reason some have claimed. Restarting the whole match seems reasonable to me.

      But I think the bigger issue, and the real reason Fnatic is attracting so much hatred right now, is that they knew about the spot for a long time in advance an kept it secret. That might not be technically against the rules, but it's EXTREMELY scummy, unethical behavior and very bad sportsmanship. There's no real precedent for that behavior affecting a major tournament in CS:GO - spots like this are usually reported when they're discovered so that they can be fixed (or sometimes left in the game if they're judge by the devs to make the map more interesting instead of less). Not to mention Fnatic's general bad manners and attitude towards other teams.

      Fnatic aren't being "destroyed" anyway. I don't think this issue will mean they won't be welcome back at Dreamhack/similar tournaments in the future, and they'll likely continue being one of the top teams in the world. All that really happened is that they lost a lot of fans and some credibility in the wider community as a result of acting in a way that people find despicable, regardless of its legality in the tournament.

      I will say that I find endless stream of hackusations against Fnatic lately by a part of the community to be pretty baseless and unnecessary, though.

      Last edited 02/12/14 5:51 pm

        Yes, I agree they probably shouldn't kept the boost secret and it's very unsportsman like for them to abuse the position to win.

        I still just think it's not fair to call them cheaters given that there is a good chance they were not even aware of the other illegal bugs in that position. You can't blame them for bugs they don't know about. Which is precisely why they only called for a rematch and didn't disqualify them.

        I have no doubt they will be allowed to attend Dreamhack again and prove themselves. But this all may still leave a scar that will damage their reputation, to an extent far more than they deserve, for a long time... You have to remember that these teams largely depend on fans to keep going.

        To be honest though I wouldn't surprise if all of the Fnatic hate leads to a line up change or some retirements, which I would really find disappointing.

          Fair enough. I'd agree that the level of backlash is probably more extreme than it should be considering that poor sportsmanship != intentional cheating, and that does affect their chances of sponsorships and so on in the future.

          And like I said, I think the whole hacking witchhunt is absurd. I do hope these issues don't cause them to feel like they're forced to change their lineup or retire players; it's an over-reaction to something that, while kind of lame, shouldn't be the end of the world.

      It's not a witch hunt. You like something and are defending it by grasping at straws. Regardless of whether it was explicitly stated in the rules, they also broke other ones and also admitted to action which would require a response from any other sports oganisation in the world... Ideally. At the very least you're enabling some crappy behaviour. So, it' NOT a witch hunt and these are NOT lies. Those are both great examples of your hyperbole though. There's also a reason... not "no reason", several actually. Those reasons are listed in the video above, your own video, comments above and below as well as the rulebook.

      Last edited 03/12/14 4:15 pm

        The witch hunt is all of the haters watching all of Fnatics demos and making videos of anything that looks remotely like they could be cheating as an attempt to try and 'catch' them.

        People see a cross hair stop on a players position once and instantly are convinced they're aim botting. It's ridiculous. These people are the ones grasping at straws...

        Last edited 03/12/14 5:45 pm

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