The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued a public update into its ongoing Counter-Strike spectator bug investigation, identifying a total of 37 guilty parties.
On September 4th, ESIC launched a historical inquiry to assess the use of an in-game exploitation in professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matches. At the time of writing, ESIC has reviewed approximately 20 percent of the 99,650 game demos provided by ESEA and HLTV dating back to 2016.
The audit has since uncovered 96 instances of the bug being deliberately triggered in a competitive environment, resulting in the implication of 37 coaches. The issued sanctions will prevent affected coaches from joining official match game servers, communicating with the players 15 minutes before and after a match, and participating in the map veto process.
Penalties will be enforced across all ESIC member organisations, including ESL, DreamHack, WePlay! Esports, BLAST, NODWIN Gaming, LVP, and Eden Esports. The non-profit association has additionally asked tournament operators outside of its membership jurisdiction to honour these bans for “the purpose of protecting the CS:GO esports scene internationally.”
Using a tiered system evaluating both the frequency and duration of bug abuse, ESIC administered demerits eliciting competitive bans ranging between five and 36 months. The open confessional period extended at the launch of the investigation was additionally considered in the sanction outcomes.
Confessions, assessed by accuracy and contrition, were accepted in a variety of degrees, offering a reduction to the length of ban received. At the time of writing, 19 coaches have come forward with applicable admissions of guilt.
ESIC commented on the investigation update in a statement: “We understand that these revelations have been tough for many people within the CS:GO community, but we believe it is in the long term best interests of the game and all of esports for integrity breaches to be dealt with head on. We know that most coaches, players, tournament organisers, publishers and developers, fans, sponsors and broadcasters want CS:GO and esports to be clean and a fair competition between players and teams doing their very best to win. We see our job as being to ensure that that happens and that corrupt and bad actors are rehabilitated or removed.”
Initially estimated to last eight months, ESIC noted that due to the “techniques developed” and “extraordinarily hard work and dedication” of its investigative team, the spectator bug abuse probe is expected to conclude in October. This will include one further summary released at the end of the month, with the possibility of “additional complications” arising from the inquiry which may defer its completion.
ESIC declined to comment on team complicity related to the spectator bug, asserting it could not confirm with “reasonable certainty” the involvement of players. Instead, it “encourages the community to refrain from speculation on this element.”
Special mention was made of Rivalry, DreamHack, and WePlay! Esports for making contributions toward the costs of the investigation. A broader, unnamed group of industry stakeholders were additionally thanked for funding previous ESIC investigative activities.
“ESIC is a non-profit association which often faces large operational burdens in its efforts to maintain integrity within the esports industry,” the organisation said in a statement. “Your commitment to integrity is valued and appreciated.”
ESIC has yet to provide an update on the Mountain Dew League match-fixing investigation launched on September 3rd. The inquiry is intended to examine 15 cases of misconduct considered to be “of significant concern to the industry.”
Esports Insider says: ESIC notes the positive indications of spectator bug abuse from the first leg of this investigation only equates to 0.1 percent of game demos available. Although, the breadth of organisations and calibre of tournaments the bug was triggered in is no less alarming. It’s yet to be determined how CS:GO developer Valve will react to this news, especially being only one-fifth of the way through the probe.