“External attack” against CSGO players behind heavy delays in NAVI vs Heroic ESL Pro League match

Helena Kristiansson/ESL Gaming via ESPAT

An ESL Pro League Season 16 match between NAVI and Heroic finished well past midnight following tech problems that left players in desperation mode.

What was supposed to be a straightforward round-of-12 match between NAVI and Heroic turned into an almost six-hour marathon following tech problems during the third map of the series, Overpass.

The issues began in the first round and saw several of NAVI’s players experience connection problems for a large portion of the first half. In one instance, Oleksandr ‘⁠s1mple⁠’ Kostyliev is seen putting his hand to his face in desperation after lagging in a 1on2 situation.

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It took ESL two hours to fix the problems, with NAVI going on to beat Heroic 16-7 on the final map to set up a quarter-final match with G2 Esports on September 30.

On Twitter, Ulrich Schulze, ESL’s SVP of Game Ecosystems, explained that the tech issues were caused by “a targeted external attack against individual players.”

“We have taken several measures to mitigate this for upcoming matches, and have also relayed our findings to Valve,” he said.

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It is believed that the perpetrator of the attack used a tool that floods players with Steam friends requests, causing them to experience connection issues. This method was recently brought to light by YouTuber Sparkles, who interviewed a hacker who allegedly crashes professional games for money through such attacks.

Veteran tournament referee Michal Slowinski said on Twitter that this method is “unique” as it works like a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack but through Steam.

ESL Pro League Season 16, which is taking place in Malta, will continue later today with the first two quarter-final matches, pitting MOUZ against Team Liquid, and Cloud9 against FaZe.

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