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Home Gambling Industry ESIC and Valve butt heads over Counter-Strike bans

ESIC and Valve butt heads over Counter-Strike bans

3 min. read
Two birds fighting.

Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) and Valve usually play for the same team. One is the watchdog that tries to uphold fair play in competitive video gaming or esports as the term is known with fan bases. The other is the developer, publisher, and often sponsor of many esports games and tournaments, including Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

It’s over the latter game that Valve and ESIC now have an argument with the Commission arguing that Valve’s decision to uphold bans against players named in a previous enforcement action by the regulator served no purpose and was "no longer proportionate nor within the scope of ESIC’s intended outcome," the watchdog said in a statement.

The issue at hand dates to a scandal that formed in 2020 and involved 37 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive coaches who used a game exploit known as "spectator bug" to relay information to their team by using a free-roaming mode in-game and feeding teammates crucial information.

Because the offenses were committed during an official esports tournament, it’s within ESIC’s remit and mandate to mete out punishments that serve as an example and eradicate such attitudes under the penalty of ending a player’s career early. However, Alessandro "Apoka" Marcucci and Nicholas "Guerri" Nogueira offenses were not found to mandate such dramatic measures.

Rather, ESIC awarded the players, who admitted to having used the bug, with several-month penalties which they were relieved would allow them to return to the competitive scene in 2023. However, Valve has other plans.

The company, which is not a member of ESIC and does not necessarily recognize it as the ultimate mediator in such cases, has decided to suspend Apoka from competitive CS:GO permanently, that is from major events which are the most important ones, while Guerri will not be able to participate in five majors in 2023. Effectively, this is career-ending for Apoka and Guerri may struggle to return to professional play following his prolonged absence.

The players sought to argue their case in front of the ESIC which agreed that the punishments against the two players were too severe. ESIC ventured to explain how it used its own "demerit" system to calculate the severity of the offense that needed to be sanctioned by the regulator. ESIC has appealed to Valve to take this system into consideration and pled on behalf of Apoka and Guerri, but Valve seems to be adamant about the way it has handled the issue.

The lack of official recognition of ESIC’s penalties stems from the fact that Valve is not an official member and the company has been avoiding making any commitments to the Commission so far.


10 Aug 2022
3 min. read
Comments (1)
7 months ago

Esports tournaments are now worth millions of dollars in prize money. Do you feel that career-ending punishments should be awarded to offenders and who do you think should be doing this? An independent integrity body or publishers/developers?