Just because it’s a video game doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions for serious breaches of integrity. Like betting on the CSGO match you’re playing in.
The Esports Integrity Commission announced late Friday night that seven Australian Counter-Strike players have received year-long bans for “betting related offences”. In simpler terms, that means some Australians were playing in one of the more higher profile CSGO leagues — the Mountain Dew League run by ESEA — and betting on their own games, or having mates/friends/associates place bets on those same games.
As pointed out when Victoria Police charged five Aussies under the Crimes Act for match fixing, there are genuine consequences for this stuff. Just because throwing a game of Counter-Strike doesn’t mean as much as, say, an A-League player or a cricketer taking a bribe, doesn’t mean you won’t get done. If anything, it’s especially stupid for Australians to be doing it: Australians love to bet on everything, but our scene is relatively so small that keeping an eye on even the smaller leagues is much more manageable for authorities.
It’s worth noting that the Esports Integrity Commission can’t, for instance, issue VAC bans to the players involved. ESEA ran the Mountain Dew League, but ESIC’s members include DreamHack, ESL, WePlay, BLAST, and other organisers, so an ESIC ban is as good as a blacklist from competitive Counter-Strike.
Not all of the players banned bet on their own matches, although ESIC’s summary of outcomes says “several associates of the Offending Parties also participated in betting activities related to the matches being played by the Offending Parties”. Some of those associates even placed identical bets to the ones placed by the players.
The full list of players banned, and the teams they represented, is as follows:
- Stephen “sjanastasi” Anastasi (LAKERS) [now playing as “stvn”]
- Akram “akram” Smida (Rooster) [now playing as “ADK”]
- Daryl “Mayker” May (Ground Zero)
- Corey “netik” Browne (Rooster)
- Damian “JD/The Real Goat” Simonovic (Rooster 2)
- Carlos “Rackem” Jefferys (Rooster 2)
- Joshua “jhd” Hough-devine (Rooster 2)
There’s some high profile Australian teams in there. Netik, for instance, and the Rooster team are currently sitting second in the MDL. They frequently pop up at the quarter finals or semi finals of major Australian qualifiers, sometimes going much further. They recently won the local qualifier for the DreamHack Masters Winter 2020 Oceania tournament, played in Perfect World Oceania, beat out ORDER and Avant to finish 2nd in the ESL Australia & NZ CSGO championship, and were one of the four invited teams to have a crack at getting a spot for IEM Beijing-Handan. Ground Zero are frequently in the mix as well, and while they’re certainly not on the level of Renegades or Greyhound, they’re consistently around the middle of the pack.
It’s a bad look that a not insignificant amount of upcoming Australian CS:GO players are screwing around with their futures like this. Sadly, they’re not the only ones, as ESIC notes:
ESIC is in the process of investigating additional breaches of the Anti-Corruption Code within the MDL in both Australia and North America. As these investigations relate to other behaviours such as match fixing, they have been significantly more complex. As previously mentioned by ESIC in its release dated 3 September 2020, there are a high volume of investigations being coordinated by ESIC relating to match manipulation behaviour.
And the worst part? The behaviour affects not just the players involved, or the matches, or other unrelated parties betting on those games, but the scene as a whole. Here’s an anecdote from Legacy Esports’ business manager:
this just makes it so fucking hard to get commercial deals landed, WHICH PAYS THE SALARIES YOU WANT, cause all they hear about is "police/cheat/bans/betting scandals"
Literally someone in-org fielded sponsor calls this week because the FEARED we were csgo adjacent.
— Michael Carmody (@EmJaeCaer) October 23, 2020
If you’re a professional or aspiring pro player: don’t bet. Just don’t.
Update 1.40pm: In a Twitlonger post, the official Rooster Twitter account says that ESIC had not contacted them prior to issuing the bans. The team confirmed that the players did bet on their own games, but only on themselves to win, something the players allegedly believed was still within the spirit of the rules.
“They tried their hardest and put 100% into every game they played bet or no bet, not a single match was ever fixed, there was no conspiring, there’s no proof of any throwing and this wasn’t really explained in the ESIC statement which led to hate towards our players,” the post reads.
“We expect other players learn from the mistake and ensure they don’t bet on games in there league as it is not worth it.”
You can read the full post below:
The Statement revealed it “issued the Offending Parties with Notices of Charge detailing the offense, ban applied and appeal mechanisms available to them”. What was stated by ESIC is wrong as no Rooster member was and still has not been emailed by ESIC, which led us to find out the bans via HLTV, while doing veto’s for a match. (if we had gotten emails prior, it would of allowed us to acquire subs)
But, as there is a lot of misconception with the recent statement we are here to clear some things up. These players did indeed bet during the MDL Season, not only on other matches, but on themselves to win. They tried their hardest and put 100% into every game they played bet or no bet, not a single match was ever fixed, there was no conspiring, there’s no proof of any throwing and this wasn’t really explained in the ESIC statement which led to hate towards our players.
At the time these players did not educate themselves in proper rulings into the season about betting on games, all they knew was throwing being a no go, as it is wrong morally and of course it is not allowed in any sport as it is punishable by law. (which is their fault)
Ultimately, all 5 players deeply regret the decision they have made, realise it was a mistake and the small amount they won was NOT worth the year ban they have received. We expect other players learn from the mistake and ensure they don’t bet on games in there league as it is not worth it. We hope to get into contact with ESIC about the situation. BTW also wanna give a massive shout out to all our fans who have backed us and supported us. BIG LOVE TO YOU ALL <3
Rooster 1 and 2 will be back.