Back in September 2020, the CS:GO professional scene took a big hit when ESIC announced that 37 coaches of a variety of professional teams had been hit with bans ranging from 3.75 months for those with the most minor misdemeanours, up to 36 months for the more serious offenders.
At that time, the investigation was said to be ongoing, with around 20% of the available data, around 99,650 demos, having been examined by the commission.
However, on the 2nd December, ESIC announced that they had completed their investigation into what they have labeled “stream-sniping” and they have decided not to press ahead with any prosecutions for what they have termed ‘widespread’ abuse of the streaming bug in the CS:GO esports scene.
“Alarmingly Regular Basis”
In their press release on the 2nd December, the company stated that it has now completed its assessment of the evidence presented for stream-sniping and it had concluded that this form of cheating “has been taking place on an alarmingly regular basis and at all levels of competition.”
While deciding not to prosecute any organisation or individual at this time, ESIC has however sent out a strongly worded declaration about the issue, as well as issuing a rally to arms to teams, players, managers, and esports tournament organisers about the issue of stream-sniping and how to prevent it going forward.
Furthermore, ESIC has also warned that any future examples of this form of cheating “will be treated with zero tolerance if detected in the future.”
While not expressly stated, it is reasonable to assume that anybody found guilty of stream-sniping in the future would likely receive a lifetime ban.
Series of Further Measures
In addition to outlining a strict new approach to stream-sniping, ESIC has also issued a series of further measures to try and prevent people from exploiting the issue, not just in CS:GO tournaments, but in other esports tournaments going forward.
Included in these recommendations are:
- A call for tournament organisers to strengthen their rules regarding the illegality of stream-sniping in tournaments and to publish them to teams more explicitly.
- The delay in the streaming of match action to be increased up to a minimum of three minutes.
- During any pause in a match, the stream should be altered to ensure that no information about the current round, caster, or analyst is visible or audible.
- In Tier 1 matches, live video feeds from the team rooms should be encouraged. This footage may not be streamed but would be stored by the organiser of the tournament for 90 days following the match, as should all communications between each player and all players and coaches.
- Given a delayed stream of 3 minutes poses issues in terms of betting fraud, ESIC also recommends that key countermeasures are put in place to avoid exploitation of this.
One positive for CS:GO fans was that ESIC noted that the delay between
“real time game action and the broadcast stream negated almost all of the realizable competitive advantage that could be gained from the on-screen information.”
Finally, while stating that this investigation will now be closed with no prosecutions imminent, ESIC has warned that future violations will be “prosecuted vigorously and the maximum sanction sought if the player, coach or team is found guilty”.