Corruption in Australia: CSGO and Overwatch teams under investigation
Not just one but several different esports organisations based in Australia are currently under suspicion of having rigged matches and being connected to other criminal activity. Revealed in a report from Sarah Curnow and Nino Bucci of ABC Investigations, the Australian police are now investigating what are supposedly very credible accusations and suspicions.
The accused organisations are said to have fixed Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matches, while an unnamed Overwatch Contenders team (a step below the Pro League) is said to be owned by someone with ties to organised crime – in other words, the mafia. Earlier this year, six Australian CS:GO players were arrested on suspicion of match-fixing.
There is no specific information on which teams are under suspicion, but due to the report containing screen grabs from a game between Jade and Downfall Gaming in the Australian division, fans have taken to assuming one of if not both of those teams are involved – this is entirely unproven though – no formal accusation against either team has happened.
The report does address another, perhaps even more pressing issue – the strong rise in gambling problems, especially in younger men. With betting and gambling getting ever more popular and easier to access via the net, it’s no surprise that fraud in this area is also becoming more commonplace.
How big a problem is corruption in esports?
Match-fixing isn’t new either – StarCraft, one of the most popular esports in South Korea has repeatedly been involved in corruption scandals, with one player (Lee ‘Life’ Seung Hyun) even getting sentenced to 18 months in prison for throwing official matches. CS:GO isn’t any better off – it’s had its own share of fixed match issues, most notably the iBUYPOWER scandal that ended in some players being permanently banned from Valve-operated tournaments.
As for the current proceedings – Victoria Police assistant commissioner Neil Paterson said that the force’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit was investigating ‘betting anomalies’. A lecturer from the University of Sydney explained why the esports industry was so easily prone to problems like this – lack of proper understanding from mainstream audiences.
Esports is a billion-dollar industry, yet are still largely not taken seriously and shrugged off as a flash in the pan. A lot of the offenders involved in corruption in esports are also quite different from ‘normal’ fraudsters – young people often below 20, with no history of criminal activity, suddenly face themselves with around ten years of prison time, depending on the severity of their offense. A lot of people still think of esports as a lawless area – this is simply not true.
There are severe punishments for match-fixing, bet-fixing and similar offenses, and sooner or later, potential fraudsters will hopefully realise that they better try and make their money honestly. According to Australian police, in their ongoing investigations, dozens of people or more could still find themselves arrested and charged with various crimes relating to this whole affair. Crime doesn’t pay – only about $30.000 dollars were involved in the CS:GO scandal – a very low amount for several years in prison and next to the millions in pay-outs that esports pros can earn.