Esports corruption scandal rocks Australian CSGO, Overwatch scenes

Hunter C. September 25, 2019

A number of Australia-based esports organizations are suspected of shady dealings.

An explosive report from Nino Bucci and Sarah Curnow of ABC Investigations discussed a police investigation into rigged matches of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It also hones in on an unnamed Overwatch Contenders team whose ownership has “organized crime links.”

The news has rocked the Australian esports scene and more cases could come to light.

The report does not get into specifics in terms of which teams are under suspicion, but the report contains screen grabs from the HLTV comments for a game between Jade and Downfall Gaming in the Australia division of ESEA MDL Season 31. It also goes on to discuss the rise in gambling problems among young men.

Match-fixing and other shady dealings are an unfortunately common occurrence in esports.

StarCraft was repeatedly hammered by corruption scandals, with possibly the biggest revolving around Lee “Life” Seung Hyun and a number of other players in 2016. Life was charged with throwing KeSPa Cup matches and was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in prison.

CSGO is no stranger to controversy either. The game has had a number of controversies of its own over the years, most notably the iBUYPOWER match-fixing scandal.

A series of permanent bans were given out to the iBUYPOWER roster after they reportedly threw games. This derailed the careers of several promising young players, including Braxton “swag” Pierce and Joshua “steel” Nissan. Both remain active in CSGO, but are banned from Valve-sponsored tournaments to this day.

While some may be quick to dismiss the allegations since the teams are competing in relatively low-level events, the severity cannot be understated.

These sorts of incidents undermine the competitive integrity of esports and harm the industry as a whole. Meanwhile, the players involved in these incidents face a maximum of 10 years in prison.