Home » OPINIONS » Is Matchfixing in Esports Real?
gamer being controlled by a puppeteer

Esports As A Passion

Esports is an industry that is based solely on many people’s ultimate passion – gaming. Gaming is essentially a way for us to communicate, share experiences and enjoy the one thing that provides us with a way to escape our everyday lives and responsibilities. They, being purpose-built for entertainment and joy, can gather a large audience and give people something to have in common. Warcraft, Counter-Strike, StarCraft, DOTA, you name your own and it’s guaranteed you’ll have someone to share your passion with.

Having professionals playing our favorite games makes the whole thing that more spectacular. The fact that there are people that studied the game to the very brink and mastered every detail makes us shiver with anticipation. What’s gonna happen next? What epic move will they pull off? Their often superhuman performance makes them our heroes, as they are physically achieving something we only daydream about while playing.

Industries And Money

As the younger generations grew up, most still kept their love for gaming. Grown people, with time, start having money, and their money goes where they please. Therefore, it’s only logical what ended up happening. The Esports industry exploded dramatically – from something people did as a past-time activity to a multi-billion dollar industry that is only growing bigger by the minute. The audience is growing, the suspense is growing, but most importantly – the money involved is growing.

Esports has not been a simple “weekend of venting” thing for a while now. As the tens of millions started racking in, the industry started generating jobs and huge financial opportunities. In a short period of time, thousands of people literally became rich by playing video games. This means that Esports is no longer just a passion for gamers, it’s a thing that attracts many more people with different interests.

Esports audience growth graph and pie chart

Courtesy Newzoo

Let’s take the music industry as an example. Decades ago, music was something produced by and listened to by enthusiasts. It was something that people invested their love and soul into. Then, as the audience grew, the financial potential did too. We saw a massive influx of producents, publishing houses, and many other solely financially motivated organizations take over. The popular music stopped being a gateway to someone’s soul and became something entirely crafted just to appeal to as many people as possible, thus making money.

This may not have much to do with Esports, but my point is wherever there’s serious money, there’s financial interest. If an industry grows too large, you’ll have people wanting to profit from it in different ways.

What Are The Famous Match-fixing Cases In Esports?

Matchfixing itself defeats the purpose of Esports. Every team should be at its peak performance at all times, dishing out their maximum and proving who’s the best. This is what makes it so exciting, after all. If a match is fixed, it becomes nothing more than a work of fiction. Someone made a decision, and now millions of people are supposed to suck that someone’s decision in.

So, the big question – Is matchfixing in Esports happening? Well, unfortunately, the short answer is yes, it does. Just how much, though? And how strictly is it sanctioned?

Let’s take a look at some events that took place in the past few years.

1. Brood War Players Case

The First Big Matchfixing Scandal in Esports was in South Korea – the birthplace of Esports. It’s the place where it began during the ’90s. It is also the country that was home to the first matchfixing scandal.

flash and jaedong of brood war

Courtesy Team Liquid

It happened in 2010, while Esports was nothing like it is today. On June 9th, 11 professional Brood War players were found guilty of fixing matches. Amongst them were the stars like flash and Jaedong. Of course, the motive is money. They were approached by gambling organizations that offered them money in order to alter the match results in their favor. It came as a huge scandal as it involved one of the top 5 Brood War players in the world.

They were banned from the Korean Esports organization, fined, and some of them even faced jail time. Many saw the scandal as a huge step backward for the still young industry.

2. MLG League Of Legends Matchfixing Case

MLG Curse vs Dignitas

In 2012, MLG did not award any money to first and second placeholders after they found out teams Curse and Dignitas colluded to swing the results of the finals. The situation was fairly apparent, as the match commenters vaguely said that it was a “strange game” as it ended after commenting on downright feeding on occasions. Both teams were disqualified.

3. The Famous DOTA2 322 Case

Although this was a much smaller event, it quickly gained traction and became the 322 meme. Alexei Solo Berezin bet against his own team that was playing against zRage. The amount he bet was, you guessed it, $322. He tried to make sure his team would lose, which it did, but it was executed so poorly that it was downright obvious that something is not right.

Alexei Solo Berezin 322 case meme

Later, people would write down “322” when someone plays so badly in DOTA that it’s almost questionable whether they were throwing the match.

Alexei got a lifetime ban from StarLadder events after this, but that was later reduced to a one year ban.

4. iBuyPower CS:GO Matchfixing Case

During the first half of 2014, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was still a relatively new game in the spotlight. Teams from all around the globe were racing to reach the top in this new gaming ecosystem. IBuyPower was at the time considered the best team on the North American continent, and many thought it was the best chance for NA to join the upper ranks with the European and Asian teams.

Infamous iBuyPower CSGO Team Players

Courtesy HLTV

However, on August 20th, 2014, happened the one game that essentially stopped their career in its tracks. At the first glance, it was a basically meaningless CSGO pro match, like any other. As the team had such a great reputation and the players showed some superhuman skills, if you would bet, the choice is obvious. Right?

Well, it should have been, but it was not. Netcodeguides.com, the team they were playing against, absolutely smashed iBuyPower in every way. “Is this really happening?”, asked the perplexed commentator.

Their buys were unorthodox, to say the least. The plays even worse – unrecognizable passiveness. It almost looked like everyone on the team was really drunk. They too were not very discreet with it, as the supposed performance they showed was abysmal.

They denied they threw the match for months. “Strangely”, in November 2014, both of the in-game leaders were removed from the roster. A year and a half later, concrete evidence was present – IBP fixed a match in order to win money skin betting on CS:GO Lounge. They set up a middleman to set up the bets for them, and all they had to do was lose and collect the reward. Quite convenient, isn’t it?

Well, not so much. In 10 days after the second blog post regarding their throwing, Valve released an article titled Integrity and Fair Play. In it, they revealed that all seven people involved in the fraud were permanently banned from all Valve-related events. This is how otherwise great talents cud, dboom, Dazed, swag, AZK, Steel and Casey Foster met the end of their CSGO career.

Related: What If Your Doctor Prescribed You a Game Instead of Medicine?

Match-fixing Hurts The Esports Industry As A Whole

Well, unfortunately, match fixings are more than real. Of course, there are many more cases, but I can’t include them all. In an industry as large as this one, it is expected for there to be some frauds and malversations in an effort to make a quick buck.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Esports is doomed. Great effort is invested to keep the matches as real as possible, and as you have already read now, risks for fixing them are dire. If a prosperous group with a perspective like iBuyPower met its demise for fixing one simple match, others will seriously think twice when trying to do something like this. Granted, it will still be present on some smaller and less managed tournaments. But it is in everyone’s interest to keep them legit – fixing matches hurts the industry as a whole.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments