The idea of lagging on LAN is a popular joke in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community, but a cyberattack made it real for Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev.
After a massive technical delay, Pro League Season 16 host ESL has confirmed that s1mple fell victim to an innovative cyberattack during professional matches. The result was a massively delayed third map against Heroic and a speedy investigation from ESL. Here’s what went down with s1mple’s laggy computer and how the issue was resolved.
The lag first flared up during the opening round of playoffs. Natus Vincere matched against Heroic, a somewhat Na’Vi-favored matchup. However, just rounds into the first match, s1mple began notifying officials about poor computer performance.
In the deciding game, the GOAT of CSGO began moving erratically or reverting to a specific spot on the map. The issue even struck during an important clutch on Overpass, leading to visible frustration from the AWPer.
The lag persisted, ultimately resulting in game three of the series being massively delayed. However, the 1-1 score from the first two matches was kept. Na’Vi won the belated third map Overpass 16-7, securing a top-eight finish. s1mple himself dropped 20 kills to 7 deaths with a 1.58 HLTV rating.
Based on additional information from ESL senior vice president Ulrich Schulze, it’s clear that this attack specifically targeted s1mple. It also appears that the intensity of the attack could be adjusted based on the in-game situation. As for the motive, it’s possible that the cyberattackers were committing betting fraud on the match with Heroic as their preferred winner. Until further investigation, the true motive and perpetrators are unknown.
Shortly after s1mple himself taunted Heroic on social media, ESL put out a public statement on the nature of the cyberattack.
Based on ESL’s statements, the attack appears to take advantage of the Steam network to clog up a computer’s network capacity. Some commenters compared it to a distributed denial of service attack but entirely sent through Steam. It targeted s1mple based on his account, so he has likely swapped accounts for the remainder of this event.
ESL ended its response to s1mple’s lag by saying it had found a way to prevent future incidents. The host also reported the nature of the cyberattack to Valve. With any luck, CSGO’s developer will quickly fix whatever loophole the hackers used against s1mple.