As esports becomes bigger business, it’s beginning to deal with the issues faced by more mainstream sports. That includes betting and match fixing scandals. The commissioner of the Esports Integrity Commission says that they’re now working with law enforcement, including the FBI, to help combat the problem in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
ESIC commissioner Ian Smith talked about progress in addressing match fixing during a recent interview with CS:GO YouTuber slash32:
Smith begins by saying that their investigation into esports match fixing can be split into two parts. In the first, ESIC are investigating and taking action against players themselves, and Smith says he’s “optimistic” that they’ll go public soon with evidence of match fixing against a group of players they intend to ban for a “very, very long time.”
But, Smith says, this is part of a much larger investigation into more serious organised match fixing in the North American MDL. “In North America, it’s much more serious. What I would describe as classic match fixing,” says Smith. “In other words, it’s players being bribed by outside betting syndicates in order to fix matches, rather than players doing it off their own backs opportunistically. It’s been going on for longer, it’s much more organised. We’re to some extent working with law enforcement, with the FBI, who only recently have had a sports betting investigative unit within the FBI.”
The North American MDL, which stands for Mountain Dew League, is an amateur CSGO competition created by the ESL and ESEA and which offers qualification to the ESL Pro League. Since Smith’s interview above, a recording of a group of players discussing manipulating the outcome of two ESEA Premier matches leaked on the website dust.us. The ESEA subsequently announced the suspension of five players while the investigation was ongoing.
The recording is possibly part of the evidence Smith referred to in the interview above, when discussing their own investigation into match fixing. “We have a very focused investigation where we have really, really good corroborating evidence from Discord, from various chat log screenshots, and recordings of players, that we are going to ban for a very, very long time,” he said.
“The first part we’ll deal with quite quicky because, we’re dealing with idiots basically.” The larger investigation, in which they’re also working with police in Australia, takes longer due to the involvement of law enforcement.
The Esports Integrity Commission was founded in 2016 “to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of all forms of cheating in esports, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping.” Their members include many of the major operators of esports events, including the ESL and their subsidiary, Dreamhack.