A match-fixing scandal rocked competitive CS:GO around this time last year, when members of the iBUYPOWER team were accused and found guilty of throwing a match in return for in-game skins, which can be sold on the marketplace for decent money. At the time, it was unclear exactly how long the bans for the players would be. Now Valve have confirmed that, as far as their events go, it’s permanent, and those players won’t be seen at the highest level of play ever again, nor will anyone who ever “demonstrate[s] a willingness to exploit their fans’ faith in the integrity of the sport.”
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In the announcement post, Valve lament the the harshness of their punishment but point out that it is necessary to protect the growing scene from those that would damage it for their own gains. With new sport comes highly lucrative betting, and that means corruption is inevitable. Setting this sort of example seems like the only option.
The affected players and others, who you can see a full list of on Reddit, also won’t be able to compete at high levels in ESEA, as confirmed by the company a few hours after this announcement. They will still be allowed to play in the minor pick-up proleagues ran by both ESEA and FACEIT, which do offer cash incentives but on a very minor scale. Those leagues’ nature as online tournaments would also make bans fairly difficult to enforce. Players such as IBP’s Skadoodle, who were on the team but no evidence of wrongdoing could be found, have not been punished.
This is hardly the first time permanent bans have been handed down for scandals in e-sports. At every turn, especially in Korea, those found responsible have been removed completely from competition. There’s even rumours that players were banned from streaming on popular services within Korea, to prevent them making any money out of their previous talents at all. While I doubt Valve will be going to Twitch with a similar demand, the message has always been clear – an example is being set, and this is not something you should have done if you ever wanted to play this game competitively again.
I fear every major game is destined for one of these before people get the picture, and it will only continue if punishments aren’t harsh enough and companies aren’t vigilant enough. It’s also a problem of payment within various e-sports – bribing someone to throw a game is a hell of a lot easier if they’re not receiving a regular salary for it. Hopefully these punishments means it’s done with in CSGO for a while.