The Esports industry is growing to be larger and larger every year. However, As it gets bigger, so too does the prize money involved with every competition. Unfortunately, because Esports is still so new compared to physical sports, there’s much less regulation around it. As a result, some try to take advantage of it for their own personal gains. However, over time the industry has gotten better at identifying these scams and shutting them down before they come to fruition. In this article, we’ve covered five of the worst match-fixing scandals ever to rock the Esports world.
Before we start, it’s important to note that while these are the worst scandals we’re aware of. There may be even worse ones that haven’t been publicly disclosed. So much goes on behind the scenes. Some of it is never made public. Therefore there’s a good chance some of the biggest scandals in Esports history have yet to come to light.
in 2014, iBUYPOWER was the biggest team in CS:GO Esports. The team was made up of big-name players such as Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, Keven “AZK” Lariviére, Sam “DaZeD” Marine, and Braxton “swag” Pierce who is now known as ‘Brax.’
This team played some of the best teams out there at the time. These were S-tier teams who had proven themselves again and again, but against iBUYPOWER, they hit a brick wall that they couldn’t break down.
Unfortunately for the players, the team collapsed in a way that totally altered the CS:GO scene forever. The iBUYPOWER members played against a team called NetcodeGuides.com. The competition lacked the skill and reputation that iBUYPOWER had, so it should have been a piece of cake. However, the team ended up losing to the underdogs.
The problem was how iBUYPOWER lost. It didn’t seem right. Almost as if the team threw the match.
It turns out that they did, in fact, throw that match. DaZeD himself was a co-owner of NetcodeGuides.com, and would have benefitted from the win. In fact, had the entire team bet on them to win, then they all could have made a substantial amount of money. The only team member who didn’t bet any money, and didn’t receive a lifetime ban from Valve, was Skadoodle.
2) Echo Fox
Gravity Gaming was a League of Legends team purchased by ex-NBA star Rick Fox and Amit Raizada, his business partner, in 2015. The team was then rebranded as Echo Fox. This was a huge moment for the industry because Rick Fox was one of the first sports professionals to invest in an Esports team.
Sadly, this unprecedented link between physical sports and Esports didn’t end well. In 2019 Rick Fox accused Amit Raizada of making threats against his family. He also accused him of using racial slurs against CEO Jace Hall.
After this, the NA LCS launched an investigation into the team and these allegations. They told Echo Fox that they had to remove Amit Raizada within 60 days, or their franchised spot in the league would be given to another team. They couldn’t do this within the time given, and so that spot went to Evil Geniuses.
Fox actually received a lawsuit in 2019 that threatened to remove him from his own brand, which he countered with his own lawsuit. In the end, Fox was removed from Echo Fox, though not before all owners of the team had had their reputations tarnished in a brutal exchange.
Echo Fox was then disbanded in November 2019, ending the link between Esports and physical sports that it had pioneered.
3) Australia’s Match-Fixing
In recent years there has been a spate of arrests in Australia for match-fixing crimes. Police investigated and found several instances when players had deliberately thrown CS:GO matches for money.
In particular, one arrest saw six men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, from Victoria get caught for their match-fixing. They face up to ten years in prison each for two crimes. The first is engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome, and the second is placing bets with the knowledge of unlawful and corrupt information.
In total, it’s thought that there were 20 bets made across 5 matches. The police were tipped off because of the nature of these bets, indicating that they were sizeable. The last news on this situation was that the men had been released pending further investigation.
4) Bhuga and Fortnite
Some instances of match-fixing don’t necessarily involve forethought or betting. For example, Bhuga, a professional Fortnite player, was issued a behavior warning over a tournament match.
Epic Games explained that this is because he requested that another player, Owl, ‘clean up’ the player that killed him. Effectively, Bhuga focused the efforts of another player on a specific participant, altering the game irrevocably.
This is dangerous because the outcome of the match could have been different if Owl had played as they would have otherwise without Bhuga’s influence. As a result, some bets that had been made by the public could have been jeopardized.
5) Rogue and Rainbow Six Siege
One of Esports’ largest games is Rainbow Six Siege, and even it isn’t immune to match-fixing controversy.
In 2019, two players from the team Rogue, Lukas ‘korey’ Zwingmann and Maurice ‘AceeZ’ Erkelenz were found guilty of sharing insider information about their team.
It was found that after the team lost a match on Team Empire in the Pro League Season 11, both players had sent Twitter DMs suggesting this might happen beforehand. That information was sent to individuals who had a clear intent on betting on the match for profit.
However, betting wasn’t specifically mentioned in either Twitter DMs, so both players got off with a warning. The team was issued with a $5,000 fine though. Hopefully this is enough o put them off ever coming close to something like this ever again.
Interestingly, it seems as though the Twitter DMs mentioned in this example were simple one word answers to questions. It should serve as a warning to all other Esports players that even a single word can land you in a lot of trouble.
Those are the five biggest match-fixing scandals in Esports to date. Hopefully, we won’t see any new ones crop up from 2020 or moving into 2021.