A few days ago, an apparently newly organised Dota 2 tournament for Tier 2 teams suddenly appeared on Twitter. The NA Summer Shuffle, which had just 15 followers, announced that the tournament would take place from the 29th June to the 6th July.
The Tweet also stated that Towa-Digital, a Austrian-based betting company, would be the tournament sponsors, but rather suspiciously, did not link to the betting sites own Twitter account.
Undaunted, just a few hours later, the first six teams taking part in the tournament were listed and included Doze Reborn, Infinity Esports, Incubus Club and Portland Burnsiders amongst others. A couple of days later, three more teams, G-Pride, Team Psych and. Team Unknown were apparently added to the roster.
A few days later, another tweet linked to a spreadsheet listing the teams competing, the groups they had been drawn into and the matches that would be played in the Group Stages, Scheduled Playoffs and Playoffs.
Betting sites began to offer odds on the games and on the 29th June, on an official Valve tournament ticket, the games in the tournament began with Infinity Esports beating Doze Reborn 2-0 in the first game.
Only they hadn’t because it appears that the NA Summer Shuffle, was nothing but an elaborate betting scam from the start.
Maltese Warnings Unheeded
Back in April, the Malta Gaming Authority warned betting sites about ‘betting on events with different risk profiles to those traditionally offered’ and that they wanted to ensure that sites offered esports betting on genuinely contested events, rather than pre-recorded games which are played ‘as live’ as the integrity checks that are part and parcel of standard esports events, were not available for online games.
It now seems that the MGA warning went unheeded by many sites, who started to offer bets on the matches in the NA Summer Shuffle, only to quickly withdraw them when it became immediately apparent that this tournament was nothing of the sort.
Tweet from a ‘Competitor’
With the tournament already having several red flags against it, the final nail in its legitimacy came when one of the supposedly competing teams, Doze Reborn, tweeted:
“This is the state of T2 [Tier 2] dota. We haven’t played in a tournament for weeks and the @ShuffleNA couldn’t prove they were sponsored and had the funds THEN used the ticket and fake accounts to fake our games being played.”
That Tweet was responded to by another of the apparently competing teams, the Portland Burnsiders, who added:
“Unfortunate situation unfolding… We’re sad to hear that our fellow NA compatriots @DozeReborn have had their roster spoofed for scam betting purposes. We will not be playing in the @ShuffleNA, if any games occur w/ the “Burnsiders” playing, that is not actually our team playing.”
In addition, a lengthy SubReddit page has listed a number of issues with this tournament with many people expressing the opinion that it was a fake and team members confirming they did not participate in the tournament, and the teams and players that did, were fake representations of the real teams.
Unfortunate situation unfolding…We're sad to hear that our fellow NA compatriots @DozeReborn have had their roster spoofed for scam betting purposes. We will not be playing in the @ShuffleNa, if any games occur w/ the "Burnsiders" playing that is not actually our team playing. https://t.co/P3dbkoPacL
— Portland Burnsiders (@PDXBurnsiders) June 30, 2020
A number of players have questioned the lack of moderation by Valve on their tournament schedule, claiming it is ripe for this type of fraudulent, scamming behaviour. As yet, Valve have not issued any comments about the tournament or any plans they have to moderate the creation of fraudulent future events.
Additionally, Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood has written a statement about the scam thanking the investigator Louis for bringing this “to the broader community’s attention” and explaining why his company did not offer odds on the event.
As the MGA predicted back in April, a lack of rigour means that fake esports events such as the NA Summer Shuffle can be created and while it did not fool the esports betting and gaming community for long, the fact that it was easy to create a fake event, is worrying for all involved with esports betting and its integrity.
Image Credits: Parilov / Shutterstock