Fnatic’s KRIMZ receives VAC ban before Flashpoint 2 match

Nick Johnson • November 28, 17:30

Fnatic Counter-Strike: Global Offensive star and two-time major winner Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson revealed that his Steam account was VAC banned, but it is unclear what this ban stems from.

The player’s accomplished history in CSGO and the extra anti-cheat methods used by most tournament organizers suggests means there is little chance that KRIMZ has been aimbotting his way through recent tournaments. Valve Anti-Cheat used to be one of the most reliable ways game developers could prevent hacking in their games. Even though Valve’s homemade anti-cheat has a reputation for letting some cheats slip through the cracks, when players saw an account had been VAC banned, they were sure it was because VAC had caught the account cheating. 

KRIMZ VAC banned before FLASHPOINT 2 matchup against DIGNITAS

Could KRIMZ really have been cheating? It’s unlikely. With hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line almost every week in CSGO’s tournaments, it’s not worth the risk for pros to cheat. In this instance, players should probably give KRIMZ the benefit of the doubt until Valve officially responds to the Fnatic player’s request. KRIMZ’s ban came soon after many accounts in China were flagged by the system for use of a third-party tool. Valve commented on that situation by telling users that their accounts would be unbanned after they uninstalled the third-party software.

KRIMZ’s coach on Fnatic, Andreas Samuelsson, backed the veteran rifler on Twitter, saying that the team is working closely with FLASHPOINT to make sure that KRIMZ will be able to play in the team’s matchup against DIGNITAS on December 1. Theoretically, the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association would be a perfect way for KRIMZ to interface with Valve, but so far the CSGO players union hasn’t publically acknowledged the situation.

What’s the difference between an Overwatch ban and a VAC ban?

VAC bans are automatic and are permanent. According to CSGO developer John McDonald, when the system hands out a ban, it’s almost 100% sure that it caught the player doing something wrong. Nobody outside of Valve knows what programs can trigger a VAC ban, but there are occasionally harmless processes that get caught up in system that result in false bans.

Sometimes, player’s confuse a VAC ban with an Overwatch ban. CSGO’s Overwatch system was rolled out in 2018, and it uses human players that have met Valve’s playtime and rank requirements to review demos of suspicious players. At the end of the demo, the Overwatch investigator votes on whether or not a player was cheating. Once the demo has been reviewed by multiple players, Valve crunches the math and hands out and Overwatch ban. These are much less serious than VAC bans and only last a certain amount of time.

But ever since Trusted Mode launched for CSGO to help combat the cheating problem plaguing Valve’s first-person shooter, more and more players have received VAC bans that have been overturned by the developer. 

How many people are actually cheating in CSGO?

The stats say not many. With CSGO reaching nearly one million concurrent players a day, around ten to twenty thousand of them will go on to receive VAC bans at some point. Since CSGO is free-to-play, those users are free to make more accounts and continue to cheat. That means that only around 2% of CSGO’s player base will ever get a VAC ban. That said, Valve’s automatic system handed out over 100,000 VAC bans in December 2018 in one of the largest ban waves of all time. 

But that was nothing compared to August 2020, where over 300,000 accounts were banned in just a single day, followed by another 300,000 the day after. CSGO’s Trusted Mode was likely to blame, with programs like Open Broadcaster Software triggering the bans. Once the creators of the third party tools were verified, many players had their bans reversed. But the craziest number is the total number of accounts Valve has banned, clocking in at over 44 million different accounts across Steam’s different types of bans. In total, almost 30 million of those have come from VAC.

How can you tell if a player has been VAC banned?

Luckily for players, it’s pretty easy to check whether someone has been banned. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough on how to find out if opponents have been VAC banned. The feature us even built in by popular CSGO tools like CSGO Demo Manager. CSGODM actually allow users to add suspicious players to a “watch list” where a bot will occasionally check to see if that flagged player has been banned. 

Luckily for KRIMZ, it’s likely his VAC ban will be reversed. This week has actually been particularly hard on CSGO’s top talents. To add on to KRIMZ’s VAC ban, Triumph’s Paytyn “Junior” Johnson’s account was stolen, resulting in over $20,000 worth of skins being stolen from his account. CSGO’s professional scene helps keep the game making money for Valve, especially as players wait on a new operation to drop and the next Danger Zone map, dz-frostbite, to hit servers, so it won’t be too long until Fnatic gets an answer from Valve.

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