Heroic’s players have given an emotional account of the strain they were under following disgruntled coach Nicolai ‘HUNDEN’ Petersen’s accusation that they were aware of his actions.
In a 35-minute long video, Heroic’s players and former team member Johannes ‘b0RUP’ Borup spoke out for the first time about being entangled in the spectator bug scandal after HUNDEN backtracked on his first comments that he had acted alone, without the knowledge of the squad.
The video was released just a day after the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) said that it had been “unable to find anywhere near enough evidence” linking Casper ‘cadiaN’ Møller, René ‘TeSeS’ Madsen, Martin ‘stavn’ Lund, and b0RUP with HUNDEN’s actions.
The esports watchdog found Nikolaj ‘niko’ Kristensen, another former Heroic player, guilty of breaching its code of conduct. The Danish rifler, who is currently playing for OG, received a lenient punishment as a result of an admission of guilt and “special circumstances” relating to his medical conditions – he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Learning about the bug
In the video, cadiaN revealed that he was “shocked” when niko told him and stavn on TeamSpeak after the 19 May 2020 DreamHack Masters Spring series against Astralis that HUNDEN had used the bug.
“We really gave our opinion and said that under no circumstance should this bug be used, and that it was stupid,” he said, adding that they didn’t share this information with TeSeS or b0RUP. “Looking back, we should have. We should have had a team meeting and said, ‘What the f*ck is going on here?'”
stavn claimed that he and cadiaN made it clear to HUNDEN that he was never to use the bug again. “I felt confident that this would never happen again,” he said. However, HUNDEN ended up exploiting the bug once again just five days later, in a Home Sweet Home Cup 5 match against Spirit.
cadiaN explained that the players remained silent despite the barrage of abuse hurled at them following HUNDEN’s claims that they were aware of his actions as they waited for ESIC to finish its investigation.
“I don’t need to respond to everyone who is coming out with a false claim about me,” cadiaN said. “I need to talk to the people who are judging this.”
According to stavn, the players, convinced of their innocence, felt “at peace” throughout ESIC’s probe. However, as large sections of the community turned against the team, the accusations took their toll on the day-to-day life of certain players.
“The time when I realized that we had to say something was when we had this talk with the team called ’empty the backpack’ and Martin [stavn] said that he didn’t want to have a night out with his brothers and friends because he was scared that someone would come to him and say that he was a cheater,” cadiaN said, before bursting into tears.
“When he said that, I knew we had to talk about it and explain our side of it.”
That is one of the many moments throughout the video when tears stream down the players’ faces. The first was when cadiaN, the team captain and most senior player in the squad, explained how difficult it was for stavn and TeSes, who are 19 and 20 years old respectively, to deal with the vicious online abuse that came their way.
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“I think it’s been very difficult to see the young players being accused of something they didn’t do, knowing that they’re innocent and knowing the pressure they have received from the community,” he said. “I have a bit more experience under my belt and I’m used to a shitstorm or people talking a lot, but it’s been difficult to not say anything when you know you have such a strong case.
“I’m just proud that they handled it like this and that they’re still fighting the way they are and that we’ve been able to stick together as a team through this.”
cadiaN also commented on the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) created by Heroic to prevent the team from speaking about the alleged cheating allegations. According to him, HUNDEN wanted to sign the document even though the players were against it.
“HUNDEN wanted this NDA signed but I was fighting against it,” he explained. “I even remember there was an argument about it, but I was very strong in my belief that this NDA should not be signed, and that’s why it wasn’t.”
Perhaps the most vivid account came from TeSeS, who was mentioned by HUNDEN as having helped him use the bug in the Dust2 game against Spirit.
The Danish coach stated that his claim of player complicity could be proven with server logs. However, this material shows only that TeSeS was on the server with HUNDEN, not that he was boosting the coach for the purpose of using the bug. In an October 18 article, Dexerto’s Editor-at-Large, Richard Lewis, explained that the expert testimony in TV2.dk’s report was misrepresented by the Danish outlet.
TeSes said that, while he did boost HUNDEN in warmup upon request, he did not know what it was for since he was not aware that the coach had used the bug against Astralis.
“I was treated immensely badly by HUNDEN,” TeSes said about the coach’s accusations. “He has f**ked my whole reputation, which I have worked for my whole life. All of a sudden, the whole community is after me for something I didn’t do. I have sacrificed so much to be where I am today. It definitely hurt and still hurts me that HUNDEN accused me of something I didn’t do.
“I have never come to a conclusion why he would betray me because I trusted this guy. He was my coach and I thought he was my friend. It’s not fair at all.”
Heroic’s players are aiming to put this ordeal past them as they turn their attention towards PGL Major Stockholm, which is just around the corner. But according to cadiaN, there were valuable lessons to be learned from this experience.
When asked about comments made by experts and analysts in the scene, the Danish captain said that he lost his “fair share of respect” for some people. “It surprised me a lot that so many people in the community were buying into his [HUNDEN’s] story,” he admitted.
Currently ranked fifth in the world, Heroic will get their Major campaign started with a match against TYLOO on October 26. The players hope that this event can mark the start of a new chapter as they look to replicate the success that they enjoyed during the online era caused by the global health crisis.
“The next goal for us is to win a tournament on LAN, hopefully with a crowd and maybe some confetti when we lift the trophy,” cadiaN said. “We tried to celebrate apart, we tried to do it at a bootcamp. Now it’s time to do it on LAN.”