Nearly a year after a notorious scandal, Valve has clarified their stance on the punishment for match-fixing (that is, conspiring to lose on purpose, typically for the purposes of illicit moneymaking) in pro Counter-Strike: a permanent ban from competition. Not "indefinite". Permanent. Valve have finally handed down a definitive verdict to teams languishing in "indefinite" time-out — such as iBuyPower, whose members were found to have participated in a major match-fixing conspiracy in early 2015, rendering their name retroactively hilarious. In short, if anyone has been found guilty of match-fixing or is found guilty in the future, they're out. Forever. Valve wrote:
Back in January and early February 2015 we took action after we discovered that a small number of professional CS:GO players were engaged in match-fixing. Our decision was to ban these players indefinitely from involvement in Valve-sponsored events. To clarify, the bans for these players are permanent, and players proven to have taken part in match-fixing will be permanently banned.
As the scene grows, it's an unfortunate reality that some individuals will seek opportunities to take advantage of their fans. We will continue to take whatever action we think is necessary to protect the entertainment value created by professional Counter-Strike, including, on occasion, terminating our relationship with individuals who have demonstrated a willingness to exploit their fans' faith in the integrity of the sport.
Valve later confirmed that this permanent ban also applies to Epsilon, another team found to have thrown a match shortly after the iBuyPower controversy. It's also worth noting that this perma-ban only extends to Valve-sponsored events, so theoretically players can compete elsewhere — albeit with significantly limited earning potential.
Valve's scene-splitting lightning bolt from on high has not come without controversy. A lot of eSports fans are pissed that a DOTA 2 player, Alexei "Solo" Berezin, continues to be allowed at Valve-sponsored events despite being the originator of a similar rule in DOTA 2. By fans' logic, Solo and iBuyPower are in the same situation. They're originators of this rule in their respective games, so both should either get a perma-ban or be let off easy, since technically they broke the rule before it was solidly in place.
Beyond that, some fans feel like this punishment — while important for the sport's future health — is too harsh. A year or two-long ban? Sure, that sounds like it'd fit the crime. Life, though? For pros who could've played for maybe another decade or so? That's brutal. And these players could've given the North American CSGO scene — which often comes up short against superior EU teams — some much-needed momentum. It's a rough situation.
Valve, though, stands by their decision. Even if it leaves portions of the CSGO community on shaky footing right now, it's for the greater good.
"While bans can be disruptive and painful to some members of the community, they are sometimes necessary," Valve wrote. "We sincerely hope that we won't have to issue more in the future."