Is Newbee Truly Guilty of Match-Fixing?
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! The organization that has traditionally held some of the best Dota 2 Players, has been put under the grinder this past week. In 2014, Newbee was winning The International 4. In 2017, the team finished 2nd after losing the Grand Final to Team Liquid. Then, during the 2018 – 2019 and 2019 – 2020 seasons, they did absolutely nothing, lost almost their entire roster, and vanished into the abyss made up of highly competitive Chinese teams.
Now, the Newbee Dota 2 team has not only been accused, but practically found guilty of match-fixing and will receive a lifetime ban from all Dota 2 events organized by Imba Media. Besides this ban, we’ve yet to find out what action (if any) will Valve take on their part. Given the close ties between the company and China, I don’t think they have a choice but to take note of this incident and make a radical decision. But we’ll see how far they’re willing to go.
The incident that Newbee Dota 2 team was involved in
The match that Newbee was accused of fixing is almost certainly the one against Vengerls, which took place in the Chinese Qualifier for the 3rd Dota 2 Minor of the season. Avengerls won the first game in that match and had a huge advantage in the second one as well. Then, out of the blue, they started a series of highly suspicious plays that eventually lost them the dispute. Some of the more vocal people in the Chinese community immediately called out the teams for match-fixing. But the investigation went on for 3 months before concluding. And to everyone’s surprise, Newbee stands accused of match-fixing.
Why we need to know the details of the investigation
This incident is a grave thing for the entire Dota 2 scene, because you really don’t expect an organization with such a great history to get involved in petty theft. There was very little to be gained from this and the risks were enormous. This was the reason why some people regarded the match between Newbee and Avengerls as an obvious example of a 322, but on Avengerls part. The feeling was that such a small and insignificant team with nothing to lose might be tempted to intentionally lose after betting on Newbee while the match was happening, or perhaps ask some of their friends to do so. This is a hypothesis that would absolve Newbee of all their guilt. Because how could they know?
There is very little information, at least in English, about the details of the investigation. Did Newbee actually ask Avengerls to intentionally throw the match in exchange for a sum of money? Or did the underdog team act on its own? Taking advantage of the esports betting system and its live betting options. It’s a tricky question and until we learn what exactly happened there, it’s hard to trust the Chinese to be fully objective. Of course, if Newbee was proved guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, then the ban is fully deserved. But if someone just wants them banned without having clear evidence, then we have a different kind of problem.
What does having Newbee banned by CDA mean?
Newbee has already released their statement regarding the incident: “Since the establishment of the Newbee eSports club, it has never participated in any fake matches and gambling activities with the club or branch as the main body”.
Valve has not moved forward with punishing Newbee from official events. This however, does not stop 3rd party organizers to withhold invites or bar Newbee from participating in qualifiers. Having Newbee banned by CDA, does put additional stress on Valve to conduct their own investigation and do it promptly. Apparently, all evidence has already been put forward.
For the players and organization a ban of this magnitude might mean an end to the player careers. It will definitely cause the Newbee organization financial difficulty. Even if the players are cleared of all wrongdoing, having a taint of a scandal of this magnitude can make players un-signable. Potential sponsors will most definitely keep away for the time being. Dota 2 Betting providers have already scrapped odds from Newbee’s matches. The trend is likely to continue until Valve gives an official assessment.