As esports grows in popularity, it is starting to face the same problems as more traditional sports. This includes controversies involving betting and match fixing. The Esports Integrity Commission’s commissioner says the organization is now collaborating with law enforcement, including the FBI, to combat the issue in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
During a recent interview with CS:GO YouTuber slash32, ESIC Commissioner Ian Smith discussed progress in combating match fixing:
Smith starts by stating that their esports match fixing investigation is divided into two pieces. In the first, ESIC is investigating and taking action against players, and Smith says he’s “optimistic” that proof of match fixing against a group of players who will be banned for a “very, very long time” will be made public soon.
However, according to Smith, this is part of a much broader probe into more extreme organized match fixing in the North American MDL. “This is much more extreme in North America. It’s what I’d call traditional matchmaking “Smith explains. “To put it another way, players are being bribed by outside betting syndicates to rig matches, rather than players doing it on their own initiative. It’s been going on for a while, and it’s a lot more organized now. We’re collaborating with law enforcement, especially the FBI, which has only recently established a sports betting investigation unit.”
The Mountain Dew League, also known as the North American MDL, is an amateur CSGO competition organized by the ESL and ESEA that provides qualification for the ESL Pro League. Since Smith’s interview, a video of a group of players debating rigging the results of two ESEA Premier matches has been leaked on the dust.us website. While the investigation was underway, the ESEA announced the suspension of five players.
The recording may be part of the evidence Smith mentioned in the interview above while talking about their own match fixing investigation. “We have a very concentrated investigation where we have very, really strong corroborating evidence from Discord, from different chat log screenshots, and recordings of players,” he said.
“We’ll deal with the first part quickly because we’re essentially dealing with idiots.” Owing to the presence of law enforcement, the wider investigation, in which they’re still dealing with Australian cops, takes longer.
The Esports Integrity Commission was established in 2016 with the goal of “disrupting, preventing, investigating, and prosecuting all forms of cheating in esports, including but not limited to match manipulation and doping.” Many of the big esports event organizers are participants, including the ESL and their affiliate, Dreamhack.