Esports Integrity Commission Admonishes Valve Over Punishments; Valve Shrugs It Off

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) works tirelessly to ensure the eSports ecosystem conducts itself with integrity. It’s not afraid to hand down harsh punishments, but believes video game developer and publisher Valve has gone too far after suspending a couple of players.

CS:GO screenshot
CS:GO screenshot
A screenshot of the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The game’s developer, Valve, and the Esports Integrity Commission are in a dispute over how to punish those who violate eSports gaming rules. (Image: Valve/CS:GO)

ESIC and Valve are now at loggerheads because of their differences. The dispute stems from a scandal in 2020 when an investigation determined that 37 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:G0) coaches exploited a bug in the system to cheat.

Depending on how they used the bug, the coaches, or even players, were able to see parts of the CS:GO map that would have otherwise been off-limits. When the investigation concluded, ESIC handed down its punishments. However, Valve decided to then take matters into its own hands, giving even more punishments to a few coaches.

Not Playing Nicely

Alessandro “Apoka” Marcucci and Nicholas “Guerri” Nogueira previously admitted to taking advantage of the exploit. As a result, in accordance with its punishment metrics, ESIC gave them “demerits” that it calculated based on the number of times they accessed the bug.

As a result, Apoka received a 5.4-month ban from any ESIC-linked events. For his involvement, Guerri received a four-month ban.

Later, following an appeal, Apoka was able to get a reduction in his ban, while Guerri had to live with his. While that should have been the end of the punishment, things were only getting started.

Valve is not an ESIC member, a trait that has frustrated CS:GO players and coaches on a few occasions. The video game is one of its leading titles. But the company continues to shrug off all attempts to join the integrity body.

As it isn’t an ESIC member, Valve handed the two coaches, as well as others, additional punishments. It banned Apoka permanently from CS:GO and banned Guerri from participating in five majors starting in January of last year.

As a result, both coaches claim “double jeopardy” – being found guilty twice for the same crimes. They have no legal recourse to force Valve’s hand, but they’re hoping ESIC can intervene.

A few days ago, according to an ESIC statement, Apoka and Guerri submitted appeals to the organization. ESIC agreed that the Valve punishments were “no longer proportionate” to the crimes the two committed.

It then tried to appeal to Valve to reverse its position. However, according to ESIC, the only response was a hollow echo.

ESIC to Change Demerit System

While it won’t have an outcome on how Valve handles violations, ESIC has updated its punishment metrics. This, it said, is a direct result of the game developer’s double jeopardy response, which means it won’t have much impact on any sanctions Valve may introduce in the future.

Valve will only take into consideration the number of demerits ESIC issues. For Valve, two demerits mean that the individual will have to miss one major. Three demerits will result in a ban from two, while four will lead to three missed majors.

ESIC’s metrics should effectively lower the number of demerits a player or coach receives for violations. This, in turn, could have an impact on any punishment Valve issues. However, what it doesn’t do is eliminate the problem and bring Valve to join Allied Esports, ESL, Oddin, Entain and others in unifying the eSports space.

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