Starcraft Pros In Cheat Scandal

By Jim Rossignol on April 13th, 2010 at 4:39 pm.


I’m not entirely sure how to dig deeper into this particular drama, as the main source sites are in Korean, and the auto-translations aren’t proving to be particularly useful. Anyway, the story as originated here reports that top Korean players are being named and shamed for throwing matches to make money on illegal betting. It’s apparently been a problem that the e-sports organisers have been trying to stamp out for a while, and it has now reached an impass, with players being outed, or forced to retire. It’s the biggest drama the game has seen in some time, and could shake things up for the leagues as they move ahead to the Starcraft II launch, with sponsorship being put at risk, and so forth.

You are permitted to respond to this article by chuckling to yourself and thinking “ah, e-sports. I remember them.”

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63 Comments »

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  1. Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

    Ah, e-sports.

    I remember them.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    How can gambling and criminals possibly become connected. This is definitely computer games fault, if south korea’s national sport was anything else corruption would not be an issue.

    Do you think that was clear enough?

  3. Eoin says:

    gambling? cheating?

    Now all we need is one star “allegedly” having intimate affairs with another stars girl, as well as some doping scandals and e-sports will be all grown up.

    • Lack_26 says:

      I thought their coaches wouldn’t let them have girlfriends, which would make there situation closer to that of race-horses.

      I wonder if they get put-down if the break a finger or get really bad RSI. Or even if they get put out to stud once their reflexes get shot. [/idle wondering]

  4. Sobric says:

    Throwing games purposefully is probably the hardest “cheat” to prove in any sport. But as with all accusations and scandals, it will inevitably hang around the Korean SC scene like an unwelcome guest, since the burden of proof lies with whoever doesn’t shout the loudest.

    • Zaphid says:

      Not really in Starcraft, you pretty much have to forget one upgrade or miss an attack window and if your opponent is on your level, he should roll over you. It happens once in a while to every pro, although the question is now, was he paid?

    • Adam Bloom says:

      I think you misread his post. He said hardest to prove

    • Bhazor says:

      Sarcasm is always tricky to convey in text.
      If I’m being truly honest I think we really need some kind of sarcasm font. I really, really mean that because I really think it is a very, very important issue.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Bhazor is a bastard.

  5. Aim Here says:

    “How can gambling and criminals possibly become connected. This is definitely computer games fault, if south korea’s national sport was anything else corruption would not be an issue.”

    Errr, I hope you’re being sarcastic. Most ‘real’ sports have some sort of cheating scandal, whether it’s football or cricket or baseball having the matches fixed, or drug scandals in athletics or cycling or whathaveyou. This is the Starcraft scene all grown up as a sport! Now it can join the big boys…

    • JB says:

      Trust me, he was being sarcastic =)

    • Bhazor says:

      Sarcasm is always tricky to convey in text.
      If I’m being truly honest I think we really need some kind of sarcasm font. I really, really mean that because I really think it is a very, very important issue.

    • Jochen Scheisse says:

      Cricket? There’s a country that plays with crickets as a sport?

    • Lukasz says:

      well yes. it is roughly second biggest sport played in the world behind only football. It is much bigger than your ballbasket or something.

  6. Zaphid says:

    Anyone interested should read these posts on teamliquid.net, pretty much the #1 site for all things Starcraft:
    http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=119456
    http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=119403

    Basically what it comes down to: SC might be THE esport in Korea, but even if you ever manage to win anything, you burn out in 3-4 years, because you have to practice 8-12 hours on daily basis and there aren’t many career options after that. The pay isn’t really good, you don’t have any skills that might help you get a job, so why you shouldn’t grab all the money they give you when you still can ? The biggest player in this scandal is probably Savior, who was destroying everyone for a year, but then pretty much died overnight, who supposedly made millions of dollars by betting against himself.

  7. Eury says:

    This is pretty serious stuff, and there are a lot of money involved. One of the player that have the nickname “Savior” is rumored to have gained over $2 million in the past 2 years just by throwing games and betting against himself.

  8. Aemony says:

    Next big blockbuster from Hollywood, yes?

  9. a says:

    Say it ain’t so, [Proz]Raynor69

  10. Vinraith says:

    Am I the only one for whom that screenshot induced some very strong Starcraft nostalgia? It’s weird, all the discussion of SC2 hasn’t had anything close to the impact that shot of Terran barracks does. It almost makes me want to reinstall, but I distinctly remember the last time I tried that (years ago) that the interface was so shit by modern standards that I just couldn’t play it.

    • Rich says:

      My interest in SC2 is entirely based on my nostalgia for SC1. It was only the fourth game I ever owned. Many complain that SC2 looks like more of the same, with better graphics, a slightly better interface and an even bigger single player campaign. It’s like Blizzard are making it just for me.

      If it weren’t for the fact that I know my PC isn’t going to run it very well, I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it. Well, that and the PhD I’m supposed to be finishing.

    • guisim says:

      Sadly, there is no Barracks in that picture.

    • Vinraith says:

      @guisim

      Well, like I said it’s been a long while. :)

      I see a main base, a vespene refinery, what are the other two buildings there?

    • Thants says:

      Factories. Siege Tank FTW.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Thants

      D’oh, of course! Damn, it’s clearly been too long. Has anyone managed to mod in higher resolutions or, even better, some UI improvements?

    • rocketman71 says:

      @Vinraith: Those are 2 factories, one with the machine shop upgrade (needed to be able to put tanks in siege mode and I don’t remember what else… speed for the vultures and range for the goliaths, I think)

    • rocketman71 says:

      Damn, late :P

    • Psychopomp says:

      Oh, I remember that map. It’s the one where you first get Kerrigan, wraiths and dropships.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I replayed it a year or three ago. Still felt like the best RTS ever.

      Well, the fact that you can’t select more than 8 units was frustrating…

    • Pantsman says:

      @Carra: It’s twelve, actually, but who’s counting? :P

  11. diebroken says:

    All bets are off – the critters caused a traffic jam for zerg rush!

    • tome says:

      I would just like to say that I understand and appreciate this reference.

  12. Mario Figueiredo says:

    What’s really disturbing is the dystopian reality this piece of news attempts to bring me into. The whole scenery made to look like a major scandal worth full attention of the society. Can’t be any more cyberpunk than this.

  13. Ffitz says:

    I’m just glad that my current game of choice, BF:BC2, will never suffer from cheating.

  14. SirDorius says:

    Meh… “ah, e-sports. I remember them.”
    SC isn’t the only e-sport, and from what I know the others are doing pretty well

  15. Adam says:

    >The largest scandal in e-sports history is currently unfolding in Korea, with revelations that a number of current pro gamers are involved with match set-ups and illegal betting.

    >“Blacklists” of players have been posted and taken down from the internet – we found a reportedly translated version which names most of the current major StarCraft pro gamers in Korea as being currently under investigation.

    > Myung Soo (Yarnc), Chan Soo (Luxury), Sang Ho (SangHo), Jung Woo (EffOrt), Yong Hwa (Movie), Jae Yoon (sAviOr), Taek Yong (Bisu), Byong Goo (Stork), Jae Wook (BeSt), il Jang (hero), Myung Hoon (fantasy), Heui Seung (UpMaGiC), Jae Dong (Jaedong), Sang Moon (Leta), Jong Seo (Justin), Chang Hee (go.go)

    • merc says:

      It’s worth bearing in mind there’s no official word on who’s involved and the police can’t release the names of alledged criminals, so lists like this of who is being investigated are heavily based on rumours.

    • Raum says:

      That sounds pretty insane.

      Jaedong, Effort and Bisu? That’s some huge names.

    • Adam says:

      *apparently* it’s sAviOr who is ‘prime suspect’ – i.e. he is the one accused of throwing games; and Jaedong is heavily accused also due to the power incident in the final vs. flash.

      The others are there just down to suspicion over substance.

  16. postx says:

    The “main” and “sites” link are a marriage article, that guy has nothing to do with the scandal.

  17. Xan says:

    I was pretty shocked to see that Jaedong was one of those involved. He won the MSL league (arguably the biggest SC-league in Korea) last year in a final against Flash where the last round ended mid-game due to a power loss. Instead of starting over, the judges made the crazy decision of giving the game to JD who was deemed as having the upper hand at the time of the power cut.

    Despite having won, Jaedong seemed to be incredibly miserable. Hell, even Flash was in a better mood. At first I thought it might’ve been because he won in an unfair way (and it could very well still be so), but after having read about this, there might also have been a lot of money involved that he lost by winning.

  18. Pus Filled Sac says:

    Hard to say whether this increases or decreases pro gaming’s credibility.

  19. ColorMeMeh says:

    Whenever big money’s involved it’s bound to happen. I wonder if this will affect pro-competitive gaming and Starcraft 2’s future, if at all.

  20. Cassette Kids says:

    The time I was playing in the secret Donkey Kong Racing League (DKRL)… money was the biggest issue as well. I guess that’s why they never released it.

  21. Bob says:

    font

  22. Tao says:

    @Bhazor Absolutely. If the discourse is to evolve on the Internet, a sacasm syntax needs to be invented. I, for one, am appalled it hasn’t already happened.

  23. Daniel Klein says:

    So, Savior, eh? That’s the only one that seems confirmed so far, as he’s been stripped of his rank of captain pretty much to coincide with the release of this.

    The War3 scene in Korea died to a much smaller scandal. There was a time when a player named Moon dominated the scene like nobody’s business. He played Nightelf, and at the time a perfectly executed Moon-style NE was considered unbeatable. Of course no one but Moon could perfectly execute Moon-style NE, but that was a minor detail often overlooked.

    So they cheated.

    One of the organizers of a major tournament edited the maps used for the tournament. In both Starcraft and Warcraft 3, maps contain unit info. DotA isn’t a “mod” for War3 as much as it is a custom map. Now custom maps were commonplace in tournaments since sponsors like to put their banners into the maps. Normally that’s all that’s changed: some additional graphics in the maps. This guy, however, tweaked unit stats ever so slightly, toning down the power of nightelf units. I don’t remember the specifics, but I think he increased build times and decreased attack damage somewhat; things that wouldn’t show up in actual numbers and would be very hard to detect by feeling alone.

    Moon still killed everyone. But some time later the map fixing scandal was brought to light. At the time, War3 was struggling to establish itself as a second e-sport in Korea next to Broodwar. That scandal was the death blow to War3. It became a laughing stock of e-sports aficionados and never became anywhere near as lucrative an industry. People quote stuff about the “lack of readability” in War3 due to its abundance of graphical effects and how that makes it unfit for TV, but it was this scandal that broke the fledgling e-sport’s back. Fortunately, something like this could never happen in Starcraft, right?

    Partly I am loving this. Kespa, the Korean e-sports agency, hates Blizzard. This is a little counter-intuitive, seeing that Starcraft is their only profitable e-sport, but it’s quite logical when you think about it a little. Kespa is profiting from a game they didn’t make. Except for box sales, Blizzard doesn’t see a dime. Blizzard has been tolerating this for the longest time (because it’s MAD PR to have a whole country dedicate so much time to your game as a sport), but SC2 has more and more features that cut Kespa out of the picture. Tournaments happen online. Blizzard is attempting to establish their own ladder (not that anyone really cares about Kespa’s surreal ranking; the teamliquid.net Power Rank is a much more accurate up to date ranking of the top players), and so on. When Blizzard sponsored the GOM.TV Season 4 tournament, effectively DOUBLING the prize money these guys had, Kespa told all the major teams in Korea that they shouldn’t attend the GOM.TV tournament “or else”. I’m not sure what they said exactly, but they scared a large team out of attending, making it so the Season 3 champion Bisu didn’t get a chance to defend his title.

    So Kespa == bad news. Kespa will do everything in their power to stop SC2 from becoming a success in Korea, since that game clearly has a LOT of Blizzard control built-in. And up to now it looked like they could be successful. Reactions to the SC2 beta were luke-warm at best from the big teams (SK Telecom’s coach saying in a recent interview with Artosis that there “wasn’t enough micro” in SC2) and SC:BW is well entrenched in Korea. This might shake things loose.

    Interesting times.

    • Zaphid says:

      Rumors say that this also the real reason behind omitting LAN support in SC2.

  24. Pew says:

    It is all Jin’s fault.

  25. -M- says:

    I bet they’ll make them white.

  26. QQ says:

    Yeah. Sure. You need to hire people to keep women away from hardcore gamers.

    When the hell did we cross over into opposite land, anyway?

  27. Magic H8 Ball says:

    Vinraith said:
    Am I the only one for whom that screenshot induced some very strong Starcraft nostalgia? It’s weird, all the discussion of SC2 hasn’t had anything close to the impact that shot of Terran barracks does.

    There is no Terran Barracks on that shot dude. Also I dunno why but using a SP mission screenshot(from original campaign no less) when talking about SC MP pro scene just seems wrong somehow.

    On topic, I dunno what to say really, even though I liked Savior. This certainly is huge blow for entirety of e-sport in Korea, not just SC.