Following allegations of cheating and potential match-fixing activity at EPICENTER’s CIS CS:GO Regional Major Ranking event, the Esports Integrity Commission has released a report that they have evidence of suspicious betting activity around matches involving the Akuma team.
After a notification from the Suspicious Betting Alert Network (SBAN) they were shown that the CEO of the now-defunct Project X org, Alexander Shyshko, had been placing bets on suspicious matches involving that team, the core of which is now Akuma. Crucially Shyshko had made accurate pre-match bets on the Akuma vs Virtus Pro match that has been subject to allegations of cheating.
The event was blighted with a number of problems from the start all of which raised serious doubts about the integrity of the competition. First, there were multiple claims of players being DDOS’d in high-profile games although no official statement was made on this matter. In addition to this, there were public questions raised about the lack of protective measures put in place by EPICENTER. These included no anti-cheat client, no recording of voice communications, and most perplexingly of all, recording POV demos was not required either. The absence of this information would make any attempts to corroborate claims of cheating impossible.
Allegations of cheating would manifest when underdogs Akuma achieved a streak of five clean wins including victories over Na’Vi and Virtus Pro, ranked second and eighth in the world respectively. Akuma came into the tournament ranked 138th. The allegations were given additional substance by the occasional lack of live camera feeds for players and due to Akuma players seemingly looking at something other than their crosshair during clutch situations.
This prompted many players and pundits alike to speculate that at least one of the players was utilising a radar hack or watching a live feed from the server to ascertain where their opponents were. The Na’Vi coach, Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy, even stated his belief that the team was cheating in the HLTV Confirmed podcast. Following the public allegations, Akuma would suffer heavy losses against Gambit and Virtus Pro.
The subsequent furor around the legitimacy of these results was given more fuel when forZe player Alexandr “zorte” Zagodyrenko publicly stated he had discovered the existence of a zero-delay GOTV feed that was in use for matches.
He added that there were people sat on these servers and that he was unsure who these people were. “We could start the match and the manager could sit in the GOTV in real time and no one knows how long he could be there… The password was changed and no one could connect except admins and some Chinese guys who entered the server in spectators and just sat there during our entire match against Na’Vi.”
While frustrations were building among the affected CIS teams the Russian Esports Federation (RESF) released a statement saying that their investigation “did not reveal any evidence of compromising the administration of the tournament and the work of GOTV… A review of the Akuma players, their hardware and software revealed no signs of foul play.”
This statement didn’t satisfy the teams and they grouped together to release an open letter urging Valve to investigate the matter and outlining recommendations for future RMR events. All attending teams, with the exception of Akuma and the ex-Marlian roster, signed the letter. Specifically, the letter requested that ESIC or “any other competent authority” conduct an investigation into Akuma.
Sources have informed Dexerto that Valve is currently in the process of reviewing the standards of the tournament. It isn’t clear how these new revelations will factor into that review nor whether or not they have been in communication with ESIC around this matter at the time of publication.
ESIC refers evidence indicating potential match-fixing and betting fraud in RMR event to Valve.
ESIC has made a referral to Valve including substantial evidence indicating the existence of potential betting fraud in the CIS RMR event run by EPIC.
— ESIC (@ESIC_Official) June 9, 2021
While the revelations of the betting activity are by no means conclusive evidence that these matches were fixed, the sheer volume of coincidences makes it an assumption impossible to look past. Attention will now turn to the Russian Esports Federation who will have to make a determination about what sanctions, if any, are appropriate under these circumstances.