The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match-fixing scandal has been oddly silent as of late. The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has been hard at work figuring out precisely what occurred within the competitive scene of Counter-Strike, and a new announcement has fans reeling.
The start of the investigation into the match-fixing scandal occurred around the same time as the investigation into coaches using a spectating bug in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to cheat. The coach spectating bug was relatively easy to solve, with VODs available for officials to peruse that showed the view of every entity within the server. To solve the matchmaking fiasco, however, ESIC is calling out the big guns.
The FBI is now officially involved in the investigation in the North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match-fixing, ESIC commissioner Ian Smith announced today. Yet the stakes involved have escalated as well: the commissioner states that this wasn’t a few players deciding to bet on their own matches. Instead, he reports that external betting agencies bribed teams to throw matches to allow the betting syndicates to turn a profit on a match with a foregone conclusion. The FBI is a primary arm of the enforcement of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as the RICO act.
This positions both the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant competitive scenes at a dangerous precipice. The mass-exodus of younger and lower-tiered semi-pro Counter-Strike players towards Valorant, has been well documented. Some players have already been removed from teams with rumors of match-fixing being at the heart of the cause, although neither organizations nor players commented on the ongoing investigation. Rumors of many of Valorant’s burgeoning competitive players being involved, if true, could spell a sudden downfall for the competitive scene of Valorant.
Within the interview, the commissioner states that ESIC has been able to retrieve evidence from Discord of the match-fixing. Incoming bans will be handed out for “a very long time,” states Ian. Competitive bans are the least of the concerns for the players that were actually involved, however. In Australia, an investigation into match-fixing resulted in five men being sent to prison for up to ten years. Other match-fixing scandals have been far softer, resulting in lifetime competitive bans. The match-fixing scandal of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that involved iBUYPOWER and NetCodeGuides of 2014 resulted in no prison sentences, though that was with far less money at stake than what is alluded to here.
The results of the investigation are up in the air well after a year of the ongoing investigation, but it appears that ESIC is readying to reach a verdict. The end result could hurt esports on a global level in both mainstream acceptance and availability of betting on matches. ESIC has not stated which leagues are involved in the investigation at this time.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is available now on PC.