Valve Bans Players Caught In CS:GO Match-fixing

When you refuse to take shots like this people are going to ask questions, Steel.

Valve have banned seven individuals from all the events Valve sponsor as a result of the recent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matchfixing scandal. If you weren’t following the story here’s what happened:

A top American team called iBUYPOWER lost a match to NetcodeGuides.com. The match was part of the CEVO Professional Season 5 and featured a lot of bizarre decisions and odd play from iBUYPOWER. Jetlag and lack of map familiarity were the reasons given by the team but a Daily Dot investigation pieced together text and chat messages along with betting behaviour from the CSGO Lounge to put together a convincing case that iBUYPOWER threw the match on purpose.

(If you’re unsure, CSGO Lounge is a site where you can bet virtual items like guns on the outcome of particular matches. Some of these items have an incredibly high value on the Steam Community Market and elsewhere due to their rarity. You can read Rich’s in-depth account of his experiences using CSGO Lounge here.)

Valve have been digging into the accounts of the accused players and intermediaries to look at the items won in the bets – CSGO Lounge connects to your Steam account so it can access your items and inventory – and state:

We can confirm, by investigating the historical activity of relevant accounts, that a substantial number of high valued items won from that match by Duc “cud” Pham were transferred ( via Derek “dboorn” Boorn ) to iBUYPOWER players and NetCodeGuides founder, Casey Foster.

cud had, according to the DD report, placed around $10,000-worth of bets using nine separate accounts. Texts from the phone of Derek Boorn (a player on a team called Torqued which also contains former iBUYPOWER players) suggest Boorn received and redistributed $7,000-worth of skins on behalf of the players. The texts also state “I even told Dazed [Sam ‘Dazed’ Marine – iBUYPOWER’s then captain] while they were playing to make it close and it was too obvious.”

You can see the whole match below but if you’re looking for “too obvious” head to 11 minutes and watch Steel refuse to take a double kill.

The individuals affected by the ban are:

Duc “cud” Pham
Derek “dboorn” Boorn
Casey Foster (NetcodeGuides founder)
Sam “Dazed” Marine
Braxton “swag” Pierce
Keven “AZK” Larivière
Joshua “Steel” Nissan

Valve add:

Professional players, their managers, and teams’ organization staff, should under no circumstances gamble on CS:GO matches, associate with high volume CS:GO gamblers, or deliver information to others that might influence their CS:GO bets.

It hasn’t been a good few months for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitive scene. On the high-profile side of things Fnatic dropped out of the Dreamhack CSGO tournament quarterfinals after rivals LDLC filed a complaint about the use of boosting, but not before filing a complaint of their own. That was the same tournament the teams Titan and Epsilon were disqualified from after a wave of bans from Valve’s Anti-Cheat system hit several pro-players.

Cheating and match-fixing are slightly different, although the behaviours involved may overlap considerably. Cheating is about advantaging yourself in the contest usually by committing rule violations. Match-fixing is about gaining an advantage outside the contest – usually financial – by altering your behaviour to get a particular result. Both undermine trust in the competition and have a huge impact on how an eSport is perceived.

Bans are one way of dealing with the problem and help demonstrate a zero-tolerance attitude towards players who cheat or match-fix. But when the issue came up on the Dota 2 scene it also pointed to problems with the financial rewards of eSports. As Dennis Schumacher of joinDOTA said “it’s sometimes possible to earn more money by betting than you can by winning.”

44 Comments

  1. Wulfram says:

    See, it really is a sport.

    • SomeDuder says:

      All that remains is players getting doped up on performance-enhancing drugs, but I’m p. sure that Doritos and Dew don’t increase your K:D ratio

      • dysomniak says:

        I’m guessing at least 20% of these guys would test positive for amphetamines or methylphenidate.

        • suibhne says:

          Bingo. Back when I was competing in other shooters, it wasn’t unusual for top players to use Adderall. I imagine this is even more prevalent now, given the drug’s ubiquity on high school and college campuses (at least in the US).

          • SomeDuder says:

            Goddamnit, I was only joking when I made that comment – are you serious? People take drugs for VIDEOGAMES now? This really is the worst generation.

          • suibhne says:

            Absolutely serious. Adderall (basically an amphetamine cocktail balanced for prescription pharmaceutical application) increases focus and reaction time to inhuman levels, potentially for hours at a time. I knew some folks performing statistical analysis of gamer performance, with the goal of identifying botters via hit spread from server-side recordings, and known Adderall users sometimes posted results that were so uncannily fast that, statistically speaking, they would get flagged as possible triggerbots.

            I don’t know exactly how you control this problem, particularly in online-only tournaments (vs. the big-money in-person events)…but either way, the “pro gaming” circuit has spectacularly failed to come to terms with it or even acknowledge the potential scale of the challenge.

          • Beanbee says:

            Young people taking drugs to be competitive? You can hardly deride a single generation for that.

            I mean really, people do it to run in circles. How is that any different to video games. From their perspective, it’s just what you have to do to be part of the competition.

          • Herbal Space Program says:

            Does consuming Peyolt while playing Grim fandango counts?

          • eggy toast says:

            Taking drugs to do videogames sounds more great and less worst generation, to me…

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      It just needs lurid ads and half-time(loading?) shows.

    • Baines says:

      More legit than boxing, and sounds about equal with the NFL under Goodell.

  2. ts061282 says:

    A competitive murder simulator draws unscrupulous players? I am shocked!

    • JS says:

      Well, if you plan to murder someone by moving a mouse around on a mousepad, and clicking on some keyboard keys, then I guess this is a murder simulator. Otherwise, not so much.

      • libdab says:

        Simulate, JS, simulate …

        You wouldn’t plan on murdering someone with a mouse and keyboard but you might simulate it. Just like I don’t plan to drive a car by using mouse/keyboard but I have simulated it.

        • Razumen says:

          To be fair, using a mouse/keyboard in a driving game is a pretty shitty simulation. I think what JS means is if you’d really want an accurate “murder simulator”, you might as well go to the target range or go paintballing than play a moderately unrealistic video game.

          • Darth Grabass says:

            So then a driving simulator would be sitting in your parked car and bouncing up and down on the seat, saying, “Vroom, vroom”?

          • Llewyn says:

            I’m sure in our youth we all had plenty of fun sitting in our parked cars bouncing up and down on the seats.

            The “Vroom, vroom!” bit might be personal preference though, I think.

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        Also Sim City is not a city simulator because you just move a mouse around on a mousepad and click some keyboard keys, not use actual bricks.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Well, it’s at least as realistic as the Astragon-published “simulators”…

    • Anthile says:

      It’s not even a very good murder simulator. People don’t stay dead for very long.

    • fish99 says:

      You’re saying everyone who plays FPS games is unscrupulous? Have you played an FPS?

      • jrodman says:

        Your Honor, these are the voice chat recordings we collected.

  3. Wowbagger says:

    I hadn’t realised there was so much money in CS:GO, it boggles my mind frankly.

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    Why did you do it, xxHeadShotGuruxx?? Why?? You were a contender!!

    • guygodbois00 says:

      He coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what he is.

  5. Stellar Duck says:

    Am I so out of touch?

    No, it’s the children who are wrong.

    What I mean to say with that is, there are huge swaths of modern gaming culture I fundamentally don’t understand. This is one of them. :/

    • Amstrad says:

      What’s to understand? There were two groups of people in competition, people have bet money on less complex games in the past so there’s no surprise that betting takes place here. That those involved in the competition would conspire in some way so as to take advantage of the betting is even less surprising or confusing.

    • Anthile says:

      Match-fixing and cheating is old as dust.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I’m aware.

        It’s more the concept of esports that I can’t wrap my head around and in this specific instance how on earth there can be enough money involved to make match fixing a thing.

        • Wedge says:

          It’s more bizarre that here it seems it’s not even actual money but cosmetic digital products with high “values”.

        • P.Funk says:

          Wrap your head around the notion that there are items generated by the game through random drops that are worth lots of money because of an internal trading/sale economy that surrounds them based on internal infrastructure organic to all Valve games applicable to it. The rest follows naturally.

        • Widthwood says:

          Well betting on rolling cubes or a ball on a platter or an order of pictures in a stack is even more nonsensical, yet casino industry is worth billions of dollars.. I’d say 10k$ is too little for a game with popularity of CS.

  6. Mr Coot says:

    Some good investigative journalism by the Daily Dot (via investigation site link). Very interesting read, ty.

  7. xfstef says:

    CS:GO really needs to see the light of GabeN !
    I’m thinking of getting into the ranked scene more but I cringe at the thought of potential cheaters in almost every game I’ll play.

    I’m really curious as to why wall hacking is still possible, would there really be high ping problems if the server didn’t constantly send the positions of all players to each of the match participants ? This completely amazes me. I can understand that aim hacks are harder to avoid, but wall hacking should be technically impossible.

    • FuriKuri says:

      It’s a very difficult problem to overcome. At what point is it determined you can “see” somebody? Imagine turning round a corner slowly and seeing an elbow jutting out. Or someone doing something behind a wall that emits a sound. How does the server communicate that in a way which wouldn’t allow a wallhack to render at least a rough estimation of a whole person? Certainly, a good player would pick up these cues regardless but a wallhack would still offer a major advantage.

      This is completely glossing over the fact that you’d essentially need to run a copy of CS:GO for every player on the server to make sure what’s revealed by each player’s camera is correct – that’d be some fairly hefty 3d calculation going on.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Hell, it would improve the net codes efficiency. Issue is, you create an uneven stream. When you use preset packets you enable greater encryption and you could use packet sniff to see if you were receiving extra players packet data.

      The emphasis would be on the server creating spoof packets for players who were possibly just around the corner at all times until yes, here they are for real. Maintaining this illusion for 16 players would be next to impossible but in a single team vs a single team the issue drastically eases off you create 2 illusionary output each server tick and send the false and real data interlaced to each team. Verification of the false data would not be a load free task and thus as long as you had a robust RNG (allow players inputs to provide an evolving seed) you could be fairly confident that wall hacks would have a very small window of viability and extreme noise.

      The issue is line of sight calculations would either have to be integrated into each level or a massive cause of server load.

  8. quarpec says:

    pro-gamers are universally awful and any sane person would do well to distance themselves from this toxic scene

    • Reefpirate says:

      I think you might be generalizing a large group of diverse personalities here. Using the word ‘universally’ and everything…

  9. BirdsUseStars says:

    13:20 : A player intentionally walks into a sniper’s line of sight, right after watching his partner killed by that same sniper.

    Come on guys, if you’re going to throw a game, at least try not to be so obvious.

  10. geldonyetich says:

    It’s unfortunately pretty predictable that this is what we get when you mix money making opportunities with gaming. I wouldn’t pitch in with something like that because I’m a rabid gaming zealot who believes in the sanctity of pure gameplay. Many “professional” gamers, though, they’re in it for the money, first and foremost.

  11. JpHetzer says:

    How exactly did they get access to the suspected players’ phone text messages?

  12. racccoon says:

    Why doesn’t STEAM just f off to its stupid console,
    Steam is not god of PC
    its a lemon with prison cells.
    As far as I am concerned I see what these guys did, but that’s what you get in this world we live in.
    People will cheat and its smack right in your face!
    STEAM needs to shut its god awful mouth stop nosing around into peoples accounts and piss off out of the PC market.