The fallout from the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) investigation into corruption in the Mountain Dew League (MDL) continues with news that the organisation has suspended seven CS:GO professional players, who had been competing in the Australian MDL for twelve months each because the players had been betting on matches in the tournament, including betting on matches in which they played.
The seven players identified by this new strand of the investigation are Akram “akram” Smida and Corey “netik” Browne, who both lined up for the team Rooster. Damian “JD/The Real Goat” Simonovic, Carlos “Rackem” Jefferys and Joshua “jhd” Hough-Devine, who all were team members of Team Rooster 2. The remaining two players were Stephen “sjanastasi” Anastasi of Team Lakers and Daryl “Mayker” May of Ground Zero Gaming.
The ban extends to any competitive CS:GO tournaments that have been organised and promoted by members of ESIC, which includes the main competition organisers ESL, DreamHack, Blast and WePlay.
While ESIC’s release did not reveal which of the players placed bets on their own matches, and which players placed bets on other matches, regardless of those facts it is clearly stated in the ESIC Anti-Corruption code that betting on any matches within a player’s own esport, is a serious violation of article 2.2.1 of the code.
Alongside the seven players named in the investigation, ESIC also concluded that a number of ‘associates of the offending parties’ were also betting on the matches involving the players and that often the bets placed by their associates would be the same bets that the player had made on the game.
This is also clear violation of article 2.2.2 of the ESIC code.
Risk of Facilitating Fraud
Commenting on their decision, the ESIC stated that:
“Without a unified understanding of the implications of inappropriate betting behaviour and observance of anti-corruption mechanisms, esports runs the risk of facilitating attractive fraud opportunities for bad actors.”
“Accordingly, it is important that professional players understand that breaches of ESIC’s Anti-Corruption Code are a serious concern.”
“It is crucially important that professional players (at the very least) abstain from placing bets on the game in which they earn an income from in order to preserve the integrity of the esports landscape internationally and mitigate the potential for bad actors to take advantage of our sport.”
ESIC also stated that these seven suspensions are part of a larger investigation which is still ongoing and that once this investigation is completed, these seven players may face additional penalties in the future. In addition, the players actions have also been reported to the Australian Police who may decide to take action additionally.
The investigation is still looking into further breaches of the code in the MDL in both Australia and North America, including potential examples of match-fixing.
Are the Suspensions Tough Enough?
There are a number of questions that spring up from this latest announcement by ESIC. Why does it seem to be that CS:GO tournaments are the ones that have the most examples of misconduct from players and others? Secondly, is the 12-month suspension enough to deter other players from doing the same?
With the ESIC investigation rumbling on, there may well be further unwelcome revelations in store for those involved in the MDL.