Counter-Strike Pros Refuse To Play After Former Cheater Joins Team

Counter-Strike Pros Refuse To Play After Former Cheater Joins Team

Back in 2014, Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian was cut from a major CSGO team called Titan after he got VAC banned for using a cheat program out of competition. The team collapsed not long after. At the time, he remorsefully declared his career “over”. Now he’s back, and people aren’t happy about that.

Recently, an organisation called Vexed announced that KQLY will be playing for them during the upcoming ESL France event. Now, players who’ve received VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) bans aren’t allowed to compete in Valve-run majors, but ESL recently instituted a controversial rule that allows red-handed rule-breakers to rejoin the fray after serving two-year suspensions. So Vexed, a relative unknown, picked up KQLY, a former heavyweight of the scene.

A handful of pros, including two members of Vexed, are not pleased. Steve “Jarod” Cohen and Léonard “SmyLi” Michelino are refusing to play altogether.

“We were not informed of this decision that was imposed to us,” they said in a statement translated by FlickShot. “We were informed of it right before the official announcement. We cannot imagine ourselves working with someone that has harmed, to the extent that he has, the competitive integrity of CS. We therefore disassociate ourselves from this decision that we deem unethical. @vexedjarod and myself have informed @Vexed_GG that we wish to be benched.”

Shortly after, Vexed also lost a coach/analyst who similarly objected to the decision.

Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans, who was a member of KQLY’s old team Titan before it kerploded, also chimed in on Twitter. “Genius move from @Vexed_GG with @KQLY_,” he wrote. “Good luck and have fun to find players and sponsors in the future who will want to work with you.”

Longtime CSGO pro Spencer “Hiko” Martin gave his two cents as well, pointing to what he believes to be something of a double standard. “He gets VAC banned, but he can join a team?” he said during a stream. “My boy [Braxton “swag” Pierce] throws a match, and he’s banned for life, but KQLY literally cheats in the game, and he comes back? I guess he can’t play Valve events.”

So basically, it’s a big mess. Should cheaters even be allowed to come back after serving suspensions? And when they do, should fans and other players give them a second chance? Multiple years off your career is a steep price to pay, but is it steep enough to dissuade people from cheating in the first place? Or should esports go with a zero tolerance policy? At the moment, there’s no universal standard. There’s a case to be made that people — especially young people, which most esports competitors are — make mistakes, and they learn and grow over time. But also fuck cheating. That’s a very convincing case you could make, too.


  • Cheating in a competitive game isn’t “a mistake”, it’s a conscious decision to illicitly unbalance the playing field in your favour. When cheaters say “I made a mistake” they’re not talking about the fact they cheated, they’re talking about the fact they got caught.

    “Fuck cheating” is exactly right. People who do it clearly have no respect for their fellow players nor the integrity of the game, they don’t deserve the opportunity to play at a competitive level. Bravo to the team members who refused to play because of this, I’d be doing the same thing.

    • It’s the same thing as doping in sports IMO. If they don’t get caught, they just keep doing it and amassing the money… This is why I’d also like the life-ban strategy in sports, because while they cheat and win, other legitimate careers are cut short because a player/athlete cannot show results amongst cheaters.

      • I agree, any kind of calculated cheating (including doping) in a professional competition should result in a permanent ban, regardless of whether it’s sports or video gaming or poker.

  • I think they should be allowed to come back – but if no one wants to play with them, then stiff shit. You reap what you sow.

    • What happens in a tournament situation though? 3 teams don’t want to play with a cheater and 5 teams don’t care. Does he get the boot? Or do the teams that don’t want to play against cheats have to pull out themselves and wear the loss of income?

      • -It is up to the tournament manager as to whether the cheater can play.
        -Then the teams decide whether they want to participate in a tournament against a player with a history of cheating.
        -Then finally the individuals as to whether they would play with or against said cheater.

        Just as the cheater must live with their decision to cheat, it is on other players to decide whether they are going to play in said tournaments.

        • The first point is the problem. Professional tournaments shouldn’t be letting cheaters participate, period. Aside from it being an obvious black mark on the tournament’s reputation, tournaments should be looking after their honest players and protecting them from being forced to play against cheaters or give up their income stream (or worse, get stung for breach of contract) by pulling out.

          • Ultimately though its up to the organisers; I am not saying whether or not it’s ethical, just that within the system in place who is responsible for each parties participation and in which order.

  • Cheater destroy everything about gaming
    and If your a “professional” it should never of even been a consideration
    Ban them for life, and their offspring

  • You can make as many mistakes as you want IF YOU ARENT TRYING TO PLAY PRO

    Playing in professional leagues means you dont get to make mistakes, thats the price you pay for trying to do something in a competitive profofessional league where you get paid

    If you play casually fuck up as many times as you want it doesnt matter, but you throw that right away when you go pro

    Same as any sport or other competition game that isnt a videogame (like i dont know how you would do it, but cheating in a chess or majong tournamnet should get you life banned too)

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