Everything we know about CS:GO’s third-person view bug and the challenge ESIC faces

Luís Mira

We’ve put together an article outlining everything we know about the third-person CS:GO bug, which has added a new layer of complexity to ESIC’s investigation.

On March 29, Dexerto’s Richard Lewis wrote that “as many as 52” CS:GO coaches faced sanctions as the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) was finalising two investigations related to the historical use of the spectator bug in a competitive setting.

The article explained that one of the reasons for the delay in reaching an outcome was the existence of other versions of the spectator bug, which came to light in August 2020.

In addition to the first, more common version of the bug, called “static view” by Michal Slowinski (the tournament admin that played a central role in uncovering the bug scandal in 2020), two other versions are being investigated by ESIC: the free roam view bug – which Dexerto revealed on February 9 – and the third-person view bug.

The latter version is particularly important, because it affected dozens of coaches, including some high-profile names. Here’s what we know about this bug.

How was the third-person view bug triggered?

The third-person bug was triggered by reconnecting to the game server during an online match. Instead of watching the game from a player’s point of view, this would result in coaches having a third-person view of their players for one round. When the round was over, everything would return to normal.

The advantages this version of the bug gives are more limited than those of the static and free roam bugs. But, with a third-person view, a coach could still relay information – obtained by moving the camera – that would be outside of a player’s field of view, helping them, for example, to clear certain angles in maps.

How many coaches experienced this bug?

Dexerto knows that over 40 coaches came across this version of the bug between 2017 and 2020. All cases are currently being investigated by ESIC.

This version of the bug was triggered only on servers hosted by Gamers Club, one of the most popular game server providers in South America, and FACEIT. Neither company was able to provide an explanation for this when contacted by Dexerto.

A FACEIT representative said that the bug was never reported by coaches. Had tournament admins been made aware of any irregularities, the company added, they would have acted immediately.

There were a number of bug cases in online ECS games in Europe and NA

Dexerto knows that a number of cases were detected in the Esports Championship Series (ECS), a now-defunct league that FACEIT ran between 2016 and 2019 and that featured some of the best CS:GO teams in Europe and North America.

ECS ran for eight seasons before FACEIT pulled the plug on the project and switched its focus to Flashpoint, for which it was the tournament operator.

Gamers Club said that all instances of bug use that it found in its servers were punished in October 2020, when it banned ten coaches, for periods ranging from one to five months, for using the spectator bug (regardless of version) in a competitive setting.

How has this bug impacted ESIC’s investigation?

This third-person view version has posed new challenges to ESIC, which launched an investigation in September 2020 into the historical use of the spectator bug. Thirty-seven coaches were caught in the first wave of bans, all of which related to the static version. Two coaches, Sergey ‘lmbt’ Bezhanov and Anton ‘ToH1o’ Georgiev, were later cleared after successful appeals.

The final batch of findings was due to be released before the end of 2020, but “unforeseen complexities” made it impossible for ESIC to complete the investigation on time. The most recent entry about the investigation in ESIC’s register, dated August 20, 2021, mentions that the second batch of cases includes “very short instances of triggering the coach bug.”

ESIC bans 35 more CSGO Counter-Strike players for betting offences.
The last update regarding the bug investigation was issued in August 2021

The esports watchdog noted that following the appeals launched by coaches, it has had to revisit both the second batch of cases and its sanctions matrix. It added that it is working with Valve to “try and come to a conclusion that is fair to all parties.”

The difficulty in ascertaining just how much information was obtained in each case of the third-person bug has only added to the complexity of ESIC’s investigation. In some of the cases reviewed by Dexerto, there appears to be clear sweeping movements of the camera; in others, there is barely any movement that would suggest the coach was trying to obtain information.

Dexerto has contacted three high-profile coaches who came across the bug in a professional tournament. All expressed surprise when shown footage and said they had no recollection of ever experiencing the bug. They also admitted to being concerned about the possibility of being banned by ESIC without having the chance to defend themselves.

A known problem?

While the CS:GO community at large was oblivious to the existence of this third-person view bug until recently, in Brazil it was all too common an occurrence in 2020.

Sources told Dexerto that South American teams were well aware that all sorts of spectator bugs were happening in Gamers Club’s servers. Brazilian coach Bruno ‘bruno’ Ono even posted in September 2020 screenshots of a conversation with a Gamers Club official in which he reported that coaches kept running into bugs in scrims and official games. “It’s impossible to play tournaments like this,” he wrote.

bruno, who is currently coaching Brazilian team paiN Gaming, has already served a 10-month ban from all ESIC member events for his use of the spectator bug. He is one of seven coaches who are permanently banned from Valve events.

bruno (left) reported that spectator bugs kept occurring in Gamers Club’s servers

And almost two years later, he now runs the risk of being slapped with another ban by ESIC, having also come across the third-person view bug on multiple occasions, Dexerto has learned.

The fact that the third-person view bug was restricted to FACEIT and Gamers Club servers will undoubtedly raise questions about just how much responsibility coaches should bear in this case. Should they face penalties for a bug that could be the game server’s responsibility, lasted one round only, gave very limited advantage, and was triggered by something as innocuous and simple as reconnecting mid-match?

These are all important questions that help explain just how complex and nuanced the investigation into the historical use of the spectator bug has become. Richard Lewis wrote that several parties outside of ESIC had underlined the importance of the matter being resolved ahead of PGL Major Antwerp, which begins on May 9.

That now seems to be a rather optimistic, if not unrealistic, target as more than two weeks have passed and the situation doesn’t seem to be any closer to a resolution.

ESIC have been approached for comment.

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