Dota 2 Match-Fixing Scandal – Big money, even bigger network
Russian YouTuber and journalist Morf dropped a video last week outlining a potentially massive match-fixing scene inside the Dota 2 ecosystem.
The video outlines potential match–fixing in the Dota Pro Circuit across both the NA and EEU regions. In fact, this cross-region scandal apparently involves so many parties and players behind-the-scenes, it certainly wouldn’t be ideal to even consider it all being true.
At the center of this scandal is Anton Monetin, a fairly unknown and underwhelming academy team coach from the CIS scene.
Scheme set up and all people potentially involved
Morf‘s ‘agent‘ allegedly became part of a shady ring referred to as the “322 Mafia”. It all started in a Discord server called “The Red Book“, which later moved into private Telegram messages.
According to Morf’s ‘agent’, he assisted Anton, the ex-Winstrike Academy coach, in running errands. As a bettor, the agent receives betting money and insider knowledge from Anton, who requests the winnings back while permitting the bettor to bet at a 50% cut on their profits. Considering Anton’s typical bet amount on a single match raked anywhere between $1000 and $20,000, there could be some pretty big money being distributed across multiple parties, including the players.
Unfortunately, Anton confirmed in a live stream that the 322 Mafia scandal and accusations against him are mostly true. Except for the claim that he set up a woman for Albert “alberkaaa” Chernoivanov. Additionally, he rebutted that the ‘agent’ failed to expose anything more than a mere personal conversation with him over an argument.
While Anton Monetin is at the center of the story, he’s only considered an errand boy in this entire scheme.
Full video below. English subtitles are available in closed captions:
Rival match-fixing gangs & cross-region “collaboration”
The agent‘s first bet was on the EEU DPC 2023 Tour 1 Open Qualifier match between HOTU and Beatifull, which went as predicted.
Oddly enough, the second bet didn‘t go as planned, with the Morg claiming that there was a conflicting bet between Anton’s group and another rival match-fixing group, which had caused the loss.
In other words, there are bad actors in both teams trying their best to throw the game.
He then predicted another match, NOSTRVM vs KZ Team, for a bet of over 1.6 million in unspecified currency. With a few more of these exercises under their belt, the agent was able to bet on higher–tier matches in the Division 1 DPC 2023 bracket. One such bet was Dawn Gaming vs Invictus Gaming in DPC 2023 China Tour 2, which resulted in Dawn Gaming‘s subsequent ban from Valve for match–fixing.
What greatly amplifies the severity of this story is that they are involving parties across other regions too. Some 46 Chinese Dota 2 players and teams received bans for match-fixing earlier this year, but the issue seems to be also deeply rooted in North America too.
Two games in the DPC Division 1 bracket were mentioned. The match between Shopify Rebellion vs Thiuth Gaming and TSM vs Wildcard Gaming. Allegedly, the underdogs in these matches (Thiuth Gaming and Wildcard Gaming) manipulated the results and total scores of the games for the purpose of betting. Hence, even in such one-sided match-ups, where the underdogs have extremely low odds of winning, there are specific betting markets to capitalize on the bad actors. Say, the kill score should be three times more than the losing team.
Morf expressed uncertainty regarding which players were aware of the match–fixing scheme.
The core takeaway here is not the accuracy of match-fixers, but the sheer amount of potentially competing rival match-fixing groups across the ecosystem.
Parties exposed and partial response
With that many name-callings, it came as no surprise that the mentioned players/teams have released their statements on the accusation.
An uprising team, HYDRA released their player, Anatoly “Lefitan” Krupnov after he was accused of cheating and 322.
Lefitan himself partially confessed on the matter:
“It all went too far, and I decided to share it as it was. I never worked directly with Anton Monetin, and Morf’s information is incorrect. But I did bet on the victory, totals, and first blood on our team’s games at a D2CL event and Neon League. At the moment, I was in need of money to live, and it seemed to me that it was nothing bad to bet on victory.
I placed bets using a middleman, who later appeared to be Monetin’s acquaintance. Nobody on our team or management knew about this. I was in an uneasy situation and saw no exit. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Now, I’m deeply ashamed of damaging the reputation of the players and the club. I’d like to say sorry to my teammates. It was fun with you at the bootcamp, too bad it ended like this.”
Paragon Events, the organizer for the Dota Pro Circuit in Eastern Europe, gave a statement about the Hydra situation. The organizers stated that they are aware of the developments, but cannot pass any judgment, or disqualify a team of their own volition. They have notified Valve and are waiting for them to swing the ban hammer.
Other people involved, mainly rebutted the accusations:
- Vladislav “Kozak” Lazurenko, the former OG analyst, rebutted claims that he was attributed with the 322 Mafia. Instead, he was merely screenshotted in a chat conversation with Anton without actual proof of betting involvement.
- Albert “Alberkaaa” Chernoivanov and cybercats refuted the accusations but confirmed there was contact between all parties involved and offers being made. Escorenews published a good breakdown of their exchange.
Key takeaway on the “322 Mafia” situation
If there’s one thing that connects every region’s match-fixing situation mentioned today, it’s the unsustainable Dota 2 Esports career for most players. While high-profile players and powerhouses would stray away from match-fixing, players and teams in the low-tier bracket are likely struggling to survive financially with just DPC prize pool winnings.
Additionally, these 322 Mafia doesn’t need to buy out all 5 players to throw a match or do their bidding as 1-2 players are typically enough to ruin a match.
Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev, who watched Morf’s investigation video, shared that match-fixing is very common in EEU:
At the click of a finger, match-fixers can ask players to throw a game.
We’ve talked about prize fund distribution in Dota 2 in the past. Valve’s top heavy approach does make everything below TI participant tier lucrative for manipulation. Hopefully, this stir in the hornet’s nest leads to many changes.
Once Valve makes its verdict on the teams and players to ban from this investigation, the other discussion should be on how to make their DPC circuit more viable for emerging players and teams.