Valve swings the ban hammer on TI winner Newbee and Avengerls

Match-fixing is sadly nothing new in esports – it’s one of the most common forms of cheating, right along with things like aimbots and wallhacks. It’s a little harder to keep track of/prove than manipulation of the game itself, but thankfully, in a game where tens or hundreds of thousands of people watch closely, it’s pretty doable.

That’s exactly what happened early last year – in February 2020, the Chinese Dota 2 organization Newbee was involved in such a scandal. They weren’t the one throwing though – that was their opponents, team AvengerIs. By May 2020, it had been officially confirmed that they fixed their match – a minor event in the Valve Dota Pro Circuit. The revelation puts a cog into the sprawling Dota 2 betting scene, and the repercussions could be huge.

Newbee ban

The Starladder ImbaTV was by no means an important (or unwinnable) match for a team that actually snagged a The International win in 2014, and yet, by May 2020, their involvement was officially proven.

Clips of the match went viral among fans, and even disgruntled former Newbee players like Xiao8 spoke up. He was part of the Newbee lineup that won the International in 2014, and he left a rather colourful comment at seeing the ‘performance’ of his teammates; “If Avengerls didn’t fix this match, I’ll eat sh*t.”

Match in question

Here you can watch the whole game go down – and around the half-hour mark, it becomes blatantly obvious what’s going on, especially if you watch Tiny, who dies right by his teammates, who don’t try to help – in particular, the Morphling who could have done three different things to assist.

It was pretty obvious that they were feeding – in other words, deliberately losing to allow Newbee to win. Pretty much as soon as the allegations were first levied, Newbee was banned from competing from a whole range of events (but not yet officially by Valve). They couldn’t take part in CDA-DPL Pro League games, or in IMBA TV and MarsTV scheduled games. Even some support staff were affected – manager Feng ‘Feng’ Yiqing was banned from working in any esports-related capacity at any game affiliated with the CDA.

They appealed that and denied they had done anything wrong – however, the Chinese Dota 2 Alliance handed their own findings over to Valve, who have now taken action. Perfect World and Valve have banned the Newbee organization from participating in any sort of Valve-affiliated match. The ban is permanent and doesn’t have an expiry date the way punishments for smaller infractions do – Newbee and five of its players are out forever.

The players affected are Lipeng ‘Wizard’ Wen, Han ‘Moogy’ Xu, Rui ‘Aq’ Yin, Chao ‘Waixi’ Yan and Hongda ‘Faith’ Zeng. All five of them have been banned now as well – what’s notable is that Hongda ‘Faith’ Zeng in particular was a member of Invictus Gaming in 2012, and helped them win the International that year. He is also suspected to be the driving force behind the match-fixing, as many fans agree that he has played quite a few rather suspicious matches in recent history.

Not exactly surprising, but Chinese Weibo sources also confirm that the team that did the losing on purpose was also banned – AvengerIs had already been banned by some 3rd party event hosts, but now they are officially out of any Valve event as well.