ESIC issues 2-year ban to former HEROIC coach Nicolai ‘HUNDEN’ Petersen

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued a two-year ban to Danish CS:GO coach Nicolai ‘HUNDEN’ Petersen.

The ban was a result of allegations made when he was at his former team, HEROIC. The allegations state that Petersen shared information about the team’s strategy with opponents via Google Drive just before the start of IEM Cologne 2021. 

Petersen’s ban started on August 25th, 2021 and will end on August 24th, 2023.

Image credit: ESIC

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Ian Smith, Commissioner at ESIC, commented: “The sort of conduct punished here has to be unacceptable and would not be tolerated in traditional sport under any circumstances. Whilst I understand that, in the context of CS:GO, strategy and anti-strat are not the same thing, tactics used to counter a particular opponent based on their play style (anti-strategy) is undeniably a strategy in itself. 

“Accordingly, I believe that what Mr. Petersen did was almost the equivalent of an NFL head coach providing his team’s general playbook to an opposing team before a game and there are no circumstances in which that can be justified.” 

ESIC compiled evidence after extensive investigations, including discussions with opposing team management and an examination of the Google Drive contents. 

The results revealed that the shared strategy material was not accessed by the recipients, as such IEM Cologne 2021 wasn’t considered compromised from a competitive integrity standpoint. ESIC also discovered that Petersen was in the process of negotiating a career move from HEROIC to the opposing team.

On the other hand, Petersen claimed that ESIC ‘chose not to hear [him] out’ prior to concluding the investigation on August 27th. He also alleges that “the only thing ESIC has done is to threaten [him] by saying that if [he] [chose] to appeal the verdict, [he] will be given a five-year ban instead.”

ESIC has denied these claims, stating that Petersen is employing tactics to avoid public scrutiny. 

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Last month, HEROIC also posted an official statement announcing that all its members decided not to compete with Petersen at IEM Cologne 2021 ‘due to severe trust issues’.

Additionally, HEROIC revealed that Petersen blocked the team’s access to the team strategy folder before sharing the sensitive information. 

In 2020, Petersen also received a 12-month ban from ESIC, which was later reduced to eight months, due to his participation in the coach spectating bug scandal. He is also under a five Major ban since January 2021 from Valve for the same reason.

Esports Insider says: Sharing sensitive team strategy information has no place in competitive esports. The trust between a team and its coach is essential to do well in competitions and tournaments, and HEROIC’s disappointment is understandable. Hopefully, there will be fewer incidents like this in the future, seeing how seriously ESIC has dealt with this case.

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