Dota 2 Team Accused Of Peeking At Match Stream, Which May Or May Not Be Cheating

An amateur Dota 2 team lost during the StarLadder FastCup this weekend when their wards -- temporary items that provide crucial vision of the map -- were picked off one-by-one, with alarming accuracy. The other team was not clairvoyant, but rather appeared to be getting outside information.

"Stream sniping" is the act of viewing another player's stream to gain the upper hand, learning critical information that would otherwise be hidden. It's the modern-day equivalent of peeking at your friend's section of the screen in Goldeneye -- and in this case affected tournament results.

In the Twitch recording from StarLadder, you can see multiple occasions when a ward belonging to the Dire team is pinged -- meaning a member of the Radiant team clicked on it (see the glowing exclamation point) to point it out to their teammates -- roughly two to three minutes after being placed. The average delay of a Dota 2 game for spectators on Twitch? Two to three minutes.

Stream sniping is very difficult to prove. Observer wards, which provide vision of an area for a limited duration, are critical in Dota 2. They keep track of common chokepoints and high-traffic zones, like entrances in and out of the river or pathways between the main lanes of travel. Because of that, there's a laundry list of common areas that teams will look to de-ward with sentry wards, which don't provide as much vision but can detect invisible objects, like observer wards.

The alleged offender, in this case, makes a critical error of pinging out ward locations using the global ping tool, which is visible to the commentator. This should be irrefutable proof that even if Radiant didn't stream snipe the entire game, they did at least use Twitch or an outside observer to spot the opening volley of wards placed by Dire. In this case, StarLadder would presumably disqualify Radiant, giving their spot in the next round of the weekend tournament Dire.

Except there is no explicit rule against stream sniping in the StarLadder rulebook.

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In the reddit post where a member of Dire brought this situation to light, an assistant referee replied to note that the rules only prohibit the use of software or malicious hacking, not outside influences like Twitch streams.

This makes a certain amount of sense. Stream sniping is difficult to prove, so long as the snipers aren't being dumb and obvious about it. A smart team could easily get away with it, or a smart team who can read the map and rotate well could be accused of it, and then a casual weekend tournament run by volunteer admins would get bogged down in attempting to verify cheating claims.

Stream sniping isn't an issue at major tournaments hosted on local area networks, where referees can visually see the screens of all players and provide the PCs and set-ups. It's much more difficult when the players are all online, spread across the globe.


Comments

    Well there's a reason why in split screen it's called "screen cheating", so if they did look at the stream then they were "stream cheating", which mile maybe not against the rules it's certainly a dirty move and will likely result in teams not being asked back.

    I never understood why observing another player's screen in Goldeneye was cheating. The information was there for everyone. If you couldn't use your peripheral vision to get a bead on what was going on, sucks to be you. That said, you're meant to be playing with mates, together in the same room, for fun. Playing online, for money, different story; though the rules don't expressly disallow it. Unethical? Sure. Illegal? Not unless there's a rule change.

      And I never understood the argument that "just because it's there you can use it" :P I mean there's nothing stopping me physically picking up my piece on a board game and placing it at the end so I win right? To me there's no difference between the two.

        Your example breaks the game to the point of making it pointless to play. Whether meant humorously or not I can't determine, but you've just committed reductio ad absurdum. Board games have rules, advance your piece on the basis of the value shown on the dice. Goldeneye's rule was "kill your opponents the most" (for the most part, I know there were other modes, but did they really get played that often?), my using an additional skill to play better than the guy next to me doesn't prevent them playing, your arbitrarily moving the token does.

          You're committing just as much reductio ad absurdum by summing up GoldenEye with that one line. It's a first person shooter, you're supposed to be playing from the perspective of one person who is not a psychic being that can tap into the vision of anyone else on the map, therefore it should be played as such.

          I would also argue it takes greater skill to hunt someone down and take them out without using screencheating to find out where they are and take them by surprise :P

            You're committing just as much reductio ad absurdum by summing up GoldenEye with that one line.

            Did anyone seriously play flag tag or last man standing often enough for them to be considered? Honestly? I'm prepared to bet most peoples' GoldenEye multiplayer experience boiled down to most kills wins, be it first to x kills or most kills in x minutes.

            It's a first person shooter, you're supposed to be playing from the perspective of one person who is not a psychicbeing that can tap into the vision of anyone else on the map, therefore it should be played as such.

            Except for the radar, the information it provided, the general direction of enemies, falls into the same description of "psychic" information. If you make the argument it simulates hearing noises by the character, I can argue the same thing about screen cheating. Again, knowing what room my opponent was in only gave me the general direction. If you argue Radars could be turned off, out of the box they couldn't, most people never beat Frigate on Secret Agent in under 4 min 30 seconds (damn hostages), and the push button cheat codes had to be published by Rare they went undiscovered so long.

            I would also argue it takes greater skill to hunt someone down and take them out without using screencheating to find out where they are and take them by surprise :P

            I agree, but if the information is there, and available to everyone, why not use it? If everyone did it, no advantage was gained.

              Did anyone seriously play flag tag or last man standing often enough for them to be considered?No but I'm not sure why that's at all relevant. At that level GoldenEye is indistinguishable from Smash TV, despite being entirely different games.

              Except for the radar, the information it provided, the general direction of enemies, falls into the same description of "psychic" information.Or it's just some kind of motion detector they've got on their wrist. It's a game mechanic tells you the general direction of someone relative to you, it doesn't show you their exact location like peeking at their screen does. It's four separate screens for four separate players, limited by the console's inability to output to more than a single screen. In the main game you can't jump into the viewpoint of any of your enemies, so the same should be the case when pitting multiple players against each other.

              I agree, but if the information is there, and available to everyone, why not use it? If everyone did it, no advantage was gained.Because some people don't want to? Clearly some people are wired to do whatever it takes to win, while others are more inclined to follow the spirit of the game.

              Again going back to board games, if someone accidentally angles their hand in such a way that gives you view of their hand, then would you not consider it cheating to check out what they have? Your only counter point seems to be "but the information is there, why not use it" whereas the game is intended to be played with that information unavailable to you. For me that means I avoid paying it any attention and just continue playing as normal.

                No but I'm not sure why that's at all relevant. At that level GoldenEye is indistinguishable from Smash TV, despite being entirely different games.

                Relevant because you questioned my description of the game as being anything other than racking up the most kills.

                I take your point regarding the way someone holds their cards, and to peek would be cheating. The difference is I alone gain an advantage by peeking and not sharing, compared to everyone else in the game. You can't argue your method of play is "as intended" without speaking to the mental state of the devs, the same way I can't argue that the devs intended people to screencheat. I'd liken it more to playing a game where everyone has an open hand and so everyone has perfect information, makes the strategy that much deeper. If you don't want to use it, fine.

                The point of multiplayer like that in GoldenEye is not to recreate the single player campaign with multiple players, nor vice versa. Your comparison is a nice non sequitur.

                My objection is to the term "screencheat". Cheating implies gaining an unfair advantage. I don't see how the advantage gained is unfair if every player in the game has the same opportunity, and you've yet to make a compelling argument otherwise.

                And if you're not playing to win, why keep score? Whether I win or lose doesn't bother me, but I get more enjoyment if I'm more invested. There's tension, there's drama, there's a buzz. And then there's a massive release when the dust settles and you relive the match talking about it with your mates afterward. Amazing shots, surviving a duel by a fraction of the health bar, some asshole swooping in after a duel and mopping up. I find it difficult to believe that, while you play primarily for enjoyment (don't we all?), you're not playing to win when you do.

                  Relevant because you questioned my description of the game as being anything other than racking up the most kills.Actually I questioned your description as being reductive (as you did me in the beginning), and maintain that it is about more than just killing the most in the same way Mario is about more than just running to the right.

                  The point of multiplayer like that in GoldenEye is not to recreate the single player campaign with multiple players, nor vice versa.Though if I cannot speak for the state of the devs' minds at the time, then neither can you here :P Although to indulge in a little more absurdum, if the devs intended for you to be aware of your entire surroundings at all times the FOV would stretch around the full 360º instead of just the ~60º ahead of you.

                  I find it difficult to believe that, while you play primarily for enjoyment (don't we all?), you're not playing to win when you do.This is only your assertion, I never claimed that I don't have any intention to win. I play a game to play the game, if I just wanted to win then I would set up arbitrary rules so that I win no matter what. To me a game of Perfect Dark or GoldenEye multiplayer without screen peeking is an entirely different game, just as it's an entirely different game if you were to suddenly enable infinite ammo.

                  Actually back with Halo 3, me and my friends came up with our own little game we liked to play. One dude's on a mongoose and starts behind one of the towers on Valhalla. The other two have rocket launchers, and it's up to them to stop the solo guy from making as many laps as he can from the back of one tower to the other. Can't remember now if you had to kill him to end his run or just destroy his vehicle. Also you didn't necessarily have to use a mongoose and could try one of the other vehicles if you wanted though it was generally harder. Anyway, had ridiculous amounts of fun playing that and trying to rack up a better score than each other, did it all afternoon and it repeatedly got brought out on subsequent hangouts. One day with another group of friends, I tried to get them to have a go but one of them was of the exact same "but the information is right there how can you not use it" persuasion as yourself, and because he apparently just couldn't help himself no matter how much we tried to get him to do otherwise. Instead of trying to team up with the other rocketeer to track down the runner he just looked at the runner's screen and knew exactly where he would appear, headed that way and popped him every time. The game was ruined and entirely unenjoyable, no one got anywhere with it.

                  But anyway, yeah. When it's actually a built in game mechanic like in Screencheat it's interesting and fun, but otherwise it just makes the game uninteresting for me. Plenty of duel-surviving and vulture kills to be had without it, it's hardly necessary to that at all.

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