The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) has set new punishment standards for cheating and match-fixing in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Major event and league organizers ESL and ESEA have already acknowledged and adopted the new standards, lifting bans against numerous former pro players previously found guilty of match-fixing.
The biggest overturned bans
Most notably, the ruling allows former members of the CS:GO team iBUYPOWER to return to competition in ESL events and leagues. These players include Sam “DaZeD” Marine, Braxton “swag” Pierce, Keven “AZK” Lariviere, Joshua “steel” Nissan, and others.
Banning the iBUYPOWER players in 2015 had a huge impact on professional CS:GO play. Revelations that one of the world’s top pro teams had actively conspired to throw games to take advantage of bets made in their favor sent shockwaves through the community and brought harsh punishment directly from CS:GO developer Valve. All who participated in the scheme were banned indefinitely in January 2015.
Were lifetime bans too harsh?
Community opinion gradually turned over the ensuing two years as the banned players continued to languish without any idea if or when their bans might be lifted. The ESIC, founded in 2015 to help establish standards in the common interest of the esports industry, surveyed the community about appropriate punishments for match-fixing and cheating infractions.
While most surveyed agreed multi-year punishments were justified in professional cases of cheating or fixing matches, there were some exceptions. Polled community members favored lighter sentencing for minors, and many voiced a desire to see former iBUYPOWER players unbanned after spending more than two years barred from competition.
At the same time, ESL conducted interviews with industry professionals and players alike, collecting opinions generally aligned with those gathered by the ESIC. ESL’s eventual decision to lift its sanctions also applies to players from other banned teams, notably including former Epsilon player Joey “fxy0” Schlosser.
New punishment standards aren’t lax
The news wasn’t all good for banned players and their supporters. Valve has still not budged on its own indefinite bans, meaning these players still cannot participate at Valve-sponsored majors, the biggest annual CS:GO events.
Moving forward under ESIC guidelines, bans for match-fixing will be heavier than those already served by guilty players. Standard bans for match-fixing will be set at five years. Players found guilty of cheating could be punished even more harshly, with bans ranging from two years to a lifetime.