Riot Games conducting their own Valorant match-fixing investigation among players - Dexerto
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Riot Games conducting their own Valorant match-fixing investigation among players

Published: 1/Apr/2021 5:28 Updated: 1/Apr/2021 11:34

by Richard Lewis

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Sources have informed Dexerto that Riot Games have been conducting a series of interviews among Valorant players relating to allegations of match-fixing, including those that are suspected to have engaged in such activity in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

This investigation is completely independent to the one being undertaken by the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), and it isn’t clear how much, if any, overlap there is between the two.

One source, who was approached as part of the investigation, explained it had begun following public talk regarding suspected match-fixing activity in the North American Mountain Dew League (MDL) operated by MTG-owned league ESEA. The matter has been at the heart of a months-long ESIC investigation that many had expected to have been published by now.

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Several of the players under suspicion in this investigation had made the move to Valorant to pursue opportunities in Riot’s new first-person shooter.

Riot Games
Riot’s internal investigation could impact the Valorant Champions Tour.

During this time several organizations had expressed concerns about committing to offering players contracts as it wasn’t clear what the outcome of the investigation was going to be, nor what Riot’s response would be to bans being issued in a completely different esport. 

One such example of this occurred in September last year.

Dignitas didn’t commit to signing Ryan ‘Shanks’ Ngo, despite his stellar performances, amid rumors he was one of the players being investigated. Kevin ‘poised’ Ngo was also released. Both had played together on CSGO teams in MDL that were repeatedly accused of match-fixing.

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After DIG’s decision, several high-profile Valorant players tweeted their thoughts.

It still isn’t publicly clear whether or not the allegations made towards these individuals have any substance.

“Currently there’s a team of people investigating the claims from CSGO and they’ve interviewed a number of players they believe are named in the ESIC investigation,” the source told us.

“They’ve interviewed players and owners as they’re trying to ascertain the overall integrity of their scene. Several organizations have been telling the players involved that they can’t sign them until Riot have cleared them and this has pressured Riot to get involved.”

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What isn’t clear is what information Riot would be able to gather that ESIC wouldn’t, especially as the allegations were made in a league that was running a Valve title.

ESIC’s partners include several prominent betting websites and gambling commissions that co-operate on combating integrity issues and, as such, their ability to gather evidence is significantly greater.

ESIC bans 35 more CSGO Counter-Strike players for betting offences.
Valve / ESIC
ESIC are currently investigating a number of matchfixing cases in CSGO’s Mountain Dew League (now ESEA Premier).

Another source who was interviewed as part of the investigation wasn’t convinced by Riot’s line of questioning.

“A lot of the questions were vague and not about specific times. I was asked if I knew anything about [one of the accused players] ever fixing a match and other questions like that. Everyone knows which players did it. We all talk among ourselves. Some [players] have confessed privately but if they don’t do that when Riot ask them I don’t see what they can do about it.” 

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Whatever the outcome of the investigation, it should be seen as a welcome action from Riot Games.

While the developer has already issued several bans for players caught cheating in tournaments, it isn’t clear what their stance will be on matters relating to match-fixing. There’s certainly a suggestion they might be soft on integrity issues based on incidents they have already dealt with.

Last year a Riot investigation cleared Ardis ‘ardiis’ Svarenieks of any wrong-doing, despite another pro player saying he was approached by Svarenieks to throw a match, and a public recording being leaked that featured the player saying he would be willing to match fix for two other parties.

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The fact they are deploying resources to investigate the influx of former CSGO players into their game suggests they may well take action against players found guilty, even if the infractions didn’t take place within Valorant.

Ardiis playing CS:GO
ESL
Ardiis, now on G2, was cleared by Riot in 2020.

Our sources couldn’t tell us whether or not Riot Games intended to make their findings public. 

The timing of this investigation seems to have come prior to the announcement from ESIC that their investigation has been slowed down due to the involvement of law enforcement agencies, specifically the FBI, as revealed by Slash32.