iBUYPOWER Match-Fixing Scandal

iBUYPOWER Match-Fixing Scandal

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The iBUYPOWER Match-Fixing Scandal refers to the controversy surround the former Counter Strike:Global Offensive team, Team iBUYPOWER, who had deliberately lost a CEVO Professional League match versus NetCodeGuides.com. Later, it emerged that the players and managers had used the skins betting site CSGOLounge to place large bets against themselves[1]. The resulting fallout lead to Valve permanently banning 7 individuals from its sponsored tournaments, which has sparked debate over the harshness of the bans, as well as numerous jokes about the players and the throw.



iBUYPOWER entered the competitive CSGO scene in late 2013, with a team consisting of the US players Skadoodle (Tyler Latham), DaZeD (Sam Marine), anger, adreN, and Canadian player AZK (Keven Lariviere)[2]. The roster changed multiple times over the course of 2014 – At the time of the NetCodeGuides.com match, their roster included swag (Braxton Pierce) and steel (Joshua Nissan) replacing adreN and anger. They enjoyed success in American tournaments, winning CEVO Season 4 and 5, as well as the ESEA Global Finals Season 15, and were tipped as the "North American Super-team". However, their performance at majors was disappointing, failing to make the playoffs in all 4 major events they attended. steel left the team in November 14, and the entire squad was disbanded at the start of 2015, with rumors that some of the squad were to form a new team under the organization Evil Geniuses.

Match versus NetCodeGuides.com

On the 21st of August 2014, iBUYPOWER faced off against NetCodeGuides.com in the Group Stage of the CEVO Professional league, on the map de_season[3]. Despite being heavy favourite, iBP were beaten thoroughly 16-4. Immediately, spectators of the game noticed unusual behaviour from the iBP players. Accusations of a throw were made by some, but the event was largely ignored until January 2015. iBUYPOWER went on to win the entire tournament[4].

Notable Developments

Richard Lewis' Article

On the 16th of January, esports journalist Richard Lewis published an article on the match in question on the Daily Dot website[5]. In the article he revealed various pieces of leaked evidence showing that iBUYPOWER members had placed high value bets against themselves and deliberately lost the match. He and CSGOLounge employee Courtney Timpson were able to identify a large number of unusually high volume bets by Duc "cud" Pham and Derek "dboorN" Boorn, who were connected to members of iBP. The article was confirmed by Cloud9 player "ShahZaM" (Shahzeeb Khan) who had been advised by Netcodeguides.com founder Casey Foster that the match would be thrown and had also placed a bet against the team.

Valve's Bans

On January 26, 2015, Valve released a commentary on the incident, Integrity and Fair Play[6], which announced the indefinite bans of four of the iBP players in addition to the orchestrators of the fix. Valve was able to confirm details in the article by Lewis through inspection of inventories and transactions, noting that many high value items won during bets were transferred through to the banned individuals. In all, seven individuals were indefinitely banned from participation in any capacity in Valve-sponsored events. Valve clarified that the bans are permanent on January 5, 2016, in A Follow Up to Integrity and Fair Play[7]. Numerous websites reported on the bans including Kotaku[8], Rock Paper Shotgun[9], PC Gamer[10] and various others. The original Daily Dot article was linked to the r/GlobalOffensive subreddit, where it received ~4000 upvotes[11].

COUNTERSTRIKE BLOG UPDATES RESOURCES COMMUNITY Integrity and Fair Play 26JAN 2015-G0 Recently, allegations of match fixing in the Cevo Season 5 match between BUYPOWER and NetCodeGuides.com came to our attention. The details are in this DailyDot article: http://www.dailydot.com/esports/match-fixing-counter- strike-ibuypower-netcode-guides/ 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. All together, the information we have collected and received makes us uncomfortable continuing any involvement with these individuals. Therefore we will be directing our CS:GO event partners to not allow any of the following individuals' participation in any capacity in Valve-sponsored events Duc "cud" Pham Derek "dboorn" Boorn Casey Foster Sam "Dazed" Marine Braxton "swag" Pierce Keven "AZK" Larivière Joshua "Steel Nissan 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. In 2014 we witnessed the explosive growth of CS:GO as a competitive eSport, and 2015 has already started strong. But as CS:GO grows, it's important to consider the substantial impact an individual professional Counter-Strike player has on the health and stability of their sport. Performing before an audience of millions of fans, they are ambassadors for their game - the strength of professional Counter-Strike comes from the integrity of its players and teams. COUNTERSTRIKE BLOG UPDATES RESOURCES COMMUNITY A Follow Up to Integrity and Fair Play 5 JAN 2016-GO Professional Counter-Strike is very important to us and to our communitv. The audience's where it entertains millions of fans. To ensure that the highest level of competition continues to entertain, that integrity can never be called into question. trust in the integrity of the sport has allowed it to grow to the point Back in January and early February 2015 we took action after we discovered that a small number of professional CS:GO players were engaged in match-fixing. Our decision was to ban these players indefinitely from involvement in Valve- sponsored events. To clarify, the bans for these players are permanent, and players proven to have taken part in match-fixing will be permanently banned. As the scene grows, it's an unfortunate reality that some individuals will seek opportunities to take advantage of their fans. We will continue to take whatever action we think is necessary to protect the entertainment value created by professional Counter-Strike, including, on occasion, terminating our relationship with individuals who have demonstrated a willingness to exploit their fans' faith in the integrity of the sport. While bans can be disruptive and painful to some members of the community they are som etimes necessary. We sincerely hope that we won't have to issue more in the future.

The individuals permanently banned from Valve-sponsored events includes:

Duc "cud" Pham
Derek "dboorN" Boorn
Casey "caseyfoster" Foster
Sam "DaZeD" Marine
Braxton "swag" Pierce
Keven "AZK" Larivière
Joshua "steel" Nissan

Skadoodle was the lone iBP player to remain unbanned, as he had declined to share a profit in the throw.

On August 31, 2015, Richard Lewis published an open letter to Valve on Daily Dot, in which he condemned Valve for leaving the players in a state of uncertainty regarding the future of their careers due to the "indefinite" nature of the bans[12].

CSGO Community Reacts

Community reactions to the bans were mixed. While some praised Valve for working to stamp out match-fixing, others were critical of the harshness of the bans. One critisism was of Braxton "swag" Pierce's ban, with some claiming that his permanent ban was unjustified given his younger age and that he was likely pressured into the throw by his more experienced teammates. Youtube channel Nerdgazm CSGO published a video from CSGO caster Semmler's stream, where he discussed the iBP bans, saying that 'Steel and DaZeD should burn' for being the ringleaders, as well as 'ruining' swag's career, who was tipped as a future star player.

Other parts of the community were quick to make jokes about the ex-iBP squad. On July 31st 2015, youtube channel Vital CSGO published a video titled 'When I'm iBuyPower' – a spin-off of 'When I'm Bored. In just under 2 years, the video accumulated over 500,000 views and ~4,900 likes.

On July 24 2017, tournament organiser Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced that they would lift the indefinite bans of players banned for match-fixing, including the 4 players of the ex-iBUYPOWER lineup[13]. The development allows the players to play in ESL/ESEA organised events. They were later also unbanned by other major tournament organisers such as Dreamhack and Faceit. They remain banned from Valve-sponsored tournaments and majors.

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