Six individuals have been arrested in Melbourne with suspicions that they’ve been involved in a match-fixing ring for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a popular First Person Shoot (FPS) online game which managed to transition into eSports status some 17 years ago.
The game is quite challenging and requires a lot of skill from the players, thus putting it on part with some of the most popular traditional sports such as football or basketball. The players spend hours every day to be in the best shape possible before tournaments.
The explanation outlines that the sport is quite large and has a huge following in Australia. Imagine what the reaction of the authorities would have been if it were some local football players fixing matches.
The six individuals could face up to 10 years in jail should they be charged and found guilty, which is a refreshment for the eSports community as match-fixing has been rampant for the last couple of years.
Why were they fixing the games?
According to sources, which are local sportsbooks, the players would place large bets on their opposing teams and intentionally “throw” games in order to help them win. This meant that they would not have a cohesive strategy and allow the other players to beat them. The odds on these sportsbooks would be beefy enough to have them interested.
According to several insiders, the players managed to quadruple their bets by just losing games, and displaying their success on a gambling blog online and being quite happy with their achievements, but that much has not been confirmed as of yet and is just a rumour.
The more credible possibility is that the sportsbooks reported the players’ questionable tactics to the authorities who are now investigating the matter.
Fixing eSports games is very easy
The overall nature of eSports, and CS: GO in particular makes the fixing process quite easy. The outcomes of the games are sometimes determined within milliseconds of starting. Should a player manage their financial situation without foresight, or make a wrong move in the early game, it could help the opposing team to absolutely destroy them long-run and not give them any breathing space.
Fans have seen these types of cases multiple times, where just one mistake caused a loss, while one lucky shot won the team their game.
The ones that fix these games, make these mistakes intentionally but manage to mask them as honest blunders. For example, sudden death can be justified by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or mismanagement of the financial situation can be justified by fat-fingering a different key than one was supposed to press.
Although eSports is usually comprised of team-based games, having just one player intentionally perform poorly is enough to bring the whole team down, and it’s not like he can be replaced by the coach mid-game.
That luxury belongs to traditional sports, where one poor performing team member is not enough to bring the whole team down and is able to be replaced momentarily.
It’s great that the police are starting to view eSports fraud as real fraud, simply because the demand for betting has increased. Having people lose thousands of dollars due to unethical behaviour from the athletes is classified as a real crime in traditional sports, why not classify it as a real crime in eSports as well?