This year, in 2021, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community was rocked by a string of match-fixing scandals. As a result, the CSGO competitive and esports betting scenes were left facing major issues of integrity. It all started with the actions of several CSGO players in the Australian Mountain Dew League, who were banned for betting on their own games and fixing matches. But from there, it just spiralled…
This should be a quick need-to-know guide on the CSGO betting scandal.
The Spectator Bug
As the first major event in the CSGO betting scandal, the ‘Spectator Bug’ exploit serves as a perfect introduction to the explanation. In September of 2020, the ESIC (Esports Integrity Commission) began investigating allegations levied against a string of players and coaches. It was revealed that these individuals were using a ‘spectator bug’ to openly view CSGO competitive matches, using what they viewed to gain an edge against opponents.
This was a direct form of cheating, using an exploit to gain a competitive advantage. Initially, a slew of 25,000 demos of CSGO games played over a four year period were reviewed extensively. There was so much data to trawl through that the ESIC resorted to an AI inspector alongside human operators. In total, more than 15 terabytes of data was reviewed, following which, 37 CSGO coaches were sanctioned.
Remarkably, this included coaches from teams such as FaZe Clan, MiBR, HellRaisers, Heroic, Natus Vincere, and Team Dignitas. For the most severe cases of exploitation, coaches were banned for a massive three years.
However, quite bizarrely, on the 2nd of December 2020, it was suddenly revealed that no prosecutions would be handed down. While this issue was severe, things were about to get a whole lot worse. By October of 2021, the results of the lengthy investigation were published by the ESIC. In this report, the ESIC discussed the outcome of this case, revealing the depth of research carried out.
Corruption in the Mountain Dew League
For the duration of a two-year period, the ESIC had been receiving numerous alerts and reports through their ‘global integrity monitoring framework’. It’s worth highlighting that as real money, careers, and individuals are involved, these allegations, claims, and prosecutions are severe and must not be taken lightly.
The ESIC responded to these alerts by launching a coordinated investigation into allegations of match-fixing, which included players betting on their own matches. Unfortunately, some of the best csgo betting sites were used for these nefarious acts.
Ultimately, seven players were identified throughout the investigation:
- Akram “akram” Smida
- Corey “netik” Browne
- Damian “JD/The Real Goat” Simonovic
- Carlos “Rackem” Jefferys
- Joshua “jhd” Hough-Devine
- Stephen “sjanastasi” Anastasi
- Daryl “Mayker” May
As a direct result of their part in the CSGO betting scandal, all of the aforementioned players were handed 12-month bans from CSGO esports.
The Revelations Begin Rising
One of the players implicated in the CSGO betting scandal, Joshua Hough-Devine, came forward to blow the whistle on the entire scene. He was handed a 12-month ban for his actions, and shortly after, spoke out to ABC News, spilling the beans on the widespread nature of match-fixing in CSGO. He claimed that he’d only ever bet on himself to win and never threw a single match, in an attempt to regain some lost integrity.
While Hough-Devine took full responsibility for his actions – and rightly so – he claimed that he ‘didn’t know the rules’. However, he also opened up on the fact that younger players were leaning towards these malicious actions, stating that ‘less experienced esports competitors made easier targets for those looking to fix esports matches’.
Unfortunately, the younger participants remain much more impressionable, and if a malicious organisation gets them young, they’ll be behind them when they inevitably climb the ladder.
The FBI Gets Involved
In April of 2021, we reported on the FBI’s sudden involvement in the CSGO betting scandal. It had now become a much more severe case, and it seemed to need intervention from a federal agency. Ultimately, the FBI revealed that it would be using RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act) to subdue the ongoing cases on match-fixing in CSGO esports. This was because, in many cases, criminal organisations would coerce players into pursuing these illegal acts in-game.
By November of 2021, the investigations were still pending. It was subsequently revealed that CSGO wasn’t the only platform targeted in these scandals, as midway through 2021, it was revealed that Valorant was suffering from similar circumstances. Riot Games, the developer of Valorant, responded strongly to these allegations, demanding an intensive investigation into the claims.
We’re yet to see how all of this will unfold, but thanks to organisations like the ESIC, we can rest assured that acts like the CSGO betting scandal will always be uncovered.