Respondents see esports match fixing as a lesser offense
Esports Betting Report

Esports Integrity Coalition, ESL Soften Stance On Lifetime Bans For Cheating

Esports lifetime bans
The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) has welcomed the results from its first-ever survey of community attitudes to sanctions for being caught cheating, which showed that the majority of respondents agreed with the organization’s view that lifetime bans for those caught cheating are inappropriate.

Commissioner Ian Smith said he had some sympathy with those who believed in banning competitors caught cheating from ever taking part in tournaments.

But he told Esports Betting Report: “It just happens to be the case that I don’t agree with that and, in light of the survey, neither do the vast majority of the community.”

There was controversy this week in the wake of the news from ESIC after league organiser ESL — a founding member of ESIC — moved to change its line on sanctions in the wake of the survey’s publication.

In particular, this meant that the ex-IBUYPOWER players previously serving indefinite bans dating back to a cheating scandal from August 2015 now had those bans lifted.

In its analysis of the sanctions survey, ESIC explained that it was clear from many comments that there were a “significant number” who felt that the IBUYPOWER ban and other historic match-fixing cases were too harsh.

“While a significant number of comments support lifetime bans for such activity overall, many more are critical of the publisher’s (Valve) decision in these cases.”

ESIC said its reasoning on lifting previous indefinite bans and allowing players to continue with their competitive careers from August 1, was that though the players were clearly culpable, the rules were not clear at the time, no education had been provided and the procedures used were not transparent and “did not comply with the principles of natural justice.”

Ball in Valve’s court

It remains unclear what Valve’s response to the sanctions survey will be. Ulrich Schulze, senior vice-president of product at ESL, said: “All of these adjustments do not apply to bans and punishments issued by Valve directly though, which will still be in place for all Valve-sponsored tournaments run by ESL, such as Majors.”  

Smith pointed out the new measures were only “recommendations.” But he does believe that the publishers – and “any other group with competent jurisdiction – should be engaging on with ESIC, the leagues and the teams on these issues.

“Some consensus and consistency is desperately needed across the industry to boost credibility and trust in the system,” he said.

He added he was happy that some clarity had been gained. “I didn’t want to make recommendations in a vacuum or impose my view on the community or the independent ESIC disciplinary panel – I was hoping the community would deliver both consensus and validation and, to a very large extent, they did.”

‘Worrying’ attitude towards match-fixing

One aspect that ESIC and Smith said was of particular concern from the survey was the discrepancy between attitudes of those who took part in the survey who saw match-fixing as a lesser offense compared to cheating to win.

Just under 20 percent of respondents believed a lifetime ban should result from match-fixing at a LAN event. More than 57 percent believed the same for cheating to win using hacks or cheats at the same type of event. Only 20 percent believed a ban for cheating to win should be two years or less. Meanwhile, over 36 percent said the same relatively lenient punishment should stand for match-fixing.

Selected survey results

Cheating to win using hacks/cheats/software – pro/semi-pro player (over 18) – LAN Event

  • Lifetime ban 57.14%
  • Two years or less 20.54%
  • Four years or less 14.68%

Cheating to lose – match-fixing (deliberately underperforming to manipulate the result to commit betting fraud) – pro/semi-pro player (over 18) – LAN Event

  • Two years or less 36.25%
  • Lifetime ban 21.42%
  • One year or less 19.35%

ESIC reiterated that it believes match-fixing to be just as serious and added that it was “committed to engaging with the community to try and persuade them that their current perception ought… to change.”

“We will do our best to inform the community about the very real and serious threat to esports posed by betting fraud and match manipulation,” ESIC added. “It is ESIC’s position that match-fixing offenses should attract at least the same level of punishment as cheating offenses based on the experiences of traditional sports.”

Smith added that he wished there had been more responses from participants outside of the CS:GO community, which accounted over 90 percent of the 7,544 responses. “I would also have liked a wider spread of games, but I think I need to rerun the survey in a few different languages to catch the other communities better,” he said.

Future sanction recommendations

  • Cheating: Sanctions to include disqualification from the tournament, results voided, forfeiture of prize money or a ban between two years and lifetime.
  • Match-fixing/betting fraud: Sanctions to include results voided, five-year ban (unless there are significant mitigating factors) forfeiture of prize money and monetary fine (if discovered before the end of a tournament, disqualification).
  • Doping: Sanctions to include results voided, ban of between one and two years, forfeiture of prize money (if discovered before the end of a tournament, disqualification).
  • Competition manipulation and bribery: Sanctions to include results voided, ban of between one and two years, forfeiture of prize money and monetary fine (if discovered before the end of a tournament, disqualification).

 

Sign Up For The Grove Report – US Online Gambling Industry Insights Delivered To Your Inbox:
Scott Longley
- Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and gambling. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, eGaming Review and Gambling Compliance. He now runs his own editorial consultancy Clear Concise Media and writes for a number of online and print titles.