Australians love their competition, and where there is competition, there will be betting. Unfortunately, the message still hasn’t gotten through locally, with players racking up bans for betting on their own CSGO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) matches.
After seven Australians were banned for 12 months towards the end of last year, the Esports Integrity Commission has handed out their harshest penalties in professional CSGO to date. To go with the generation of coaches that were banned for abusing a spectator bug that would let them spy on opponents while a match was live, ESIC has handed down a total of 35 bans.
Out of those 35 bans, two players have had their bans from last year extended. The worst bans have been handed down to Wilson “willyKS” Sugianto, Alvin “Gravinz” Changgra and Matthew “Jam” Castro, who will be banned for 5 years for “aggravated betting against team”, meaning they laid more than 10 bets against their own team in matches they were playing in. 7 more players have been banned for 4 years, while most of the bans will run for 12 months.
It’s worth noting that the bans here are just for laying bets in a match — not match-fixing itself. However, particularly given the nature of some of the games, ESIC thinks a future investigation is inevitable.
“This release does not deal with ascertaining or alleging the presence of match fixing, although the strong possibility of this in a number of cases is still under investigation by both ESIC and law enforcement,” ESIC said.
Sanctions issued in today’s release are not for matching-fixing. However, ESIC is of the view that there is a high possibility that it will issue match-fixing charges arising from the ongoing investigations, potentially including against players sanctioned today. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/PU7bt5Iedl— ESIC (@ESIC_Official) January 22, 2021
“It is crucially important that professional players (at the very least) abstain from placing bets on the game from which they earn an income in order to preserve the integrity of the esports landscape internationally and mitigate the potential for bad actors to take advantage of our sport,” the commission added.
LetsPlay.Live issued a statement Monday morning, saying they would be honouring ESIC’s findings “given to all players indefinitely”. “LPL strongly encourages all esports players to ensure they are fully informed of the rules and consequences regarding wagering in esports,” the organisation said.
Statement regarding ESIC's latest ruling. pic.twitter.com/rWnIw3gjhZ— LetsPlay.Live (@LetsPlayLiveHQ) January 24, 2021
The commission thanked Ladbrokes Australia for their support in the investigation. And as before, while ESIC doesn’t run their own tournament their sanctions are honoured by the entirety of their membership. So given that includes WePlay, ESL, Dreamhack, BLAST and others, these bans are as close as you can get to an official Counter-Strike blacklist.
Understandably, players are challenging the bans. The ones that are the most contentious are the 12 month violations for betting, particularly after the majority of players affected didn’t even receive an official notice because the emails weren’t configured properly. ESIC’s due to inform players of the specific matches and bets that resulted in their ban, so watch this space.
But as for the players who repeatedly bet against their own teams? I imagine Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit might have some thoughts about that.