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Even with the GAB’s involvement, PH esports or even Southeast Asian esports do not have an active governing body overseeing the large variety of tournaments that take place each year.
It usually falls to developers of the games and the independent tournament organizers to handle all disciplinary issues that may arise in their leagues. However, developers like Valve and Riot Games and organizers like PGL and the Mineski Events Team aren't entirely infallible, which begs the question of whether or not permanent or indefinite bans on young (often underage) players are fair or justifiable.
With that said, it's time to look at five of the most controversial player bans in SEA esports and discuss whether the ban hammer was actually necessary.
Chawy: The Singaporean Sentinel
Wong "Chawy" Xing-Lei holds the distinction of being the first professional player to play at the highest tournament for both Dota 2, and League of Legends. Chawy finished 3rd place in The International 2011 on the Singaporean team, Scythe Gaming, along with notable Dota 2 professionals, iceiceice, xy-, and hyhyh.
Chawy transitioned to professional League in 2012, when he started playing for the Singaporean Sentinels. Chawy was penalized in August of 2015 after news of elo boosting from March 2014 came to Riot's attention.
Chawy announced in a post on his private Facebook account that he was not initially paid for the ELO boosting and that he only started requesting for the pay because he became short on money due to a failed investment. Chawy believes that the "friend" that received the ELO boosting, was the same person who reported him to the officials.
Chawy received a six-month ban starting from August of 2015 which hurt his team's preparation for the 2015 League of Legends World Championship. Chawy has since made a return to the competitive stage and participated in the World Championships in both 2016 and 2017.
Jacko And PH 322
The term "322" originated from Alexey "Solo" Berezin's incident of matchfixting in 2013 where he won USD 322 after betting against his own team in a StarLadder event. Now the term has spread across the entirety of competitive Dota as a shorthand for any match-fixing scandal by players.
Jacko "Jacko" Soriano was a promising young Dota 2 player that found himself indefinitely banned from Valve Dota 2 tournaments following his involvement with the PH 322 scandal of 2014.
In 2014, several members from Mineski-Dota and MSIEvoGT also landed in hot water when conversations between players from both teams were leaked. These conversations proved that members from both Mineski and EvoGT agreed to throw their games in order to win Dota 2 items.
RELATED: The PH 322 Scandal
The country's leading Dota tournament organizers, the Mineski Events Team and TNC, both imposed bans on the eight professional players that were involved in the 322 scandal. Most of the players received one-year bans from competing in MPGL tournaments, while Jacko received a nine-month ban because he was underage at the time of the ban.
In January 2016, Valve clamped down on players with histories marred with cases of match-fixing with an indefinite ban. The culprits of the 2014 PH 322 scandal were all slapped with an indefinite ban on Valve tournaments. Jacko was no exception.
Jacko's recent professional stint found him competing with Clutch Gamers in the World Cyber Arena 2017 APAC Qualifier in July 2016.
BYB: Redemption As Coach
Mark Adrian "BYB" Gavin was also involved in the 2014 PH 322 scandal alongside Jacko and six other young professionals in Dota 2.
BYB's team during the scandal, EvoGT, received the full brunt of the punishment as all members of their team received bans from Valve after earning approximately USD 900 after all was said and done.
BYB's final great outing as a professional player came in September 2016 where he won the MPGL Southeast Asia Championship with Execration in a 2-0 victory over MVP Phoenix.
Given his longstanding ban, BYB is still unable to compete for any Valve sanctioned event. Due to his undeniable talent and experience however, BYB has instead been coaching for Execration since September 2016. This serves as a good workaround for now in utilizing his talents, while still respectfully complying with Valve's decision.
ddz: Broken Arrow
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Kok Yi "ddz" Liong is a Malaysian professional Dota 2 player who is considered to be one of the best players in SEA. His run in with the ban hammer took place in 2014 following his then team, Arrow Gaming's stint in The International 2014.
ddz revealed all in a post dated October 20, 2014 where he admitted to the 322 allegations levied against their team. Both ddz and Fua "Lance" Hsien Wan confessed after thorough investigations of their match-fixing activities and stated that they will be accepting any punishment that they deserved.
"Firstly, we want to admit that the 322 by ddz and Lance is true, and we are very sorry for this mistake, ddz, said. We considered doing it in the first place because we were desperate for money. We live in the city, and being underpaid, things are just very tough and harsh on us sometimes. We are very very sorry for this action and we should have never done it."
Trouble followed the Malaysian Dota 2 superstar when Valve banned their new team, Team Redemption, in 2015 because of their past case of match-fixing. The news broke out in March of 2015 that all of the members of the 2015 Team Redemption received indefinite bans that would prevent them from competing in any Valve event.
"It is with a heavy heart to inform that Team Redemption - or in this case, the players consisting of DDz, XiangZaii, MoZun, MtR and Lance will not be participating in any future events hosted by Valve." Team Redemption Management, said. "his message was received directly from Valve, which essentially means that we will not be participating in The International."
ddz remains banned to this day though he continues to play for a new team, HighGround.
Nando and the Hacked Account
Fernando ”Nando” Mendoza is yet another Pinoy Dota 2 player that got caught up in a 322 scandal. In a recent case of match-fixing that was kickstarted by the chat log leak from Nando’s stolen smartphone, a possible case of match-fixing from 2015 was brought to light.
Several prominent players were named in the chat logs from the inciting leak. Jacko was implied to have once again indulged in match-fixing, one year before his Valve ban for his participation in the 2014 322 scandal.
The old roster of Acion Arena was heavily implicated in the chat leak after Jayjay ”Yaj” Garan and ChampoOy from AcA were stated to have accepted a similar match-fixing offer as the initial message to Nando.
The 2017 leak raised the possibility of there being undiscovered cases of match-fixing from Pinoy Dota 2 professionals that have not yet been revealed.
These cases of player bans mostly revolve around the temptations of money. It's a callback to the infancy of esports where a career in professional gaming wasn't entirely lucrative and the scene was mostly about betting on games in LAN cafes.
The sad part is that for the five players on this list, they sacrificed a career in something they love for a bit of short-term money. These are clearly the decisions of players from difficult lives, or who are too young to have the maturity to think of their finances in the long term. Is it then completely fair to shut these players that have made mistakes, from competing in the game they love?
Extinguishing the Hope
Chawy somehow got off lightly with only a six-month ban. The Dota 2 players have it rougher with Valve citing past instances of match-fixing to completely block them out of participating in any Valve tournament.
Jacko, BYB, and the rest of the 2014 members of Mineski-Dota and EvoGT could have ignited the PH Dota revolution way before TNC Pro Team's historic run in The International 2016 given that at their peak they were truly dominant players. But due to the stringent Valve ruling, which was based on an incident that did not occur during a Valve event, one is left asking why Valve was as strict as they were.
It's understandable that Valve values the integrity of its competitive scene, but an extended ban on offenders, especially underage players, is a death sentence for budding competitive careers.
For Dota 2 specifically, Valve has taken great leaps in restructuring the competitive scene with the new Dota Pro Circuit. It may be time to review the ban ruleset and reassess whether or not the sweeping judgments is really what's best for the industry. I mean, even convicted criminals have a chance at parole depending on their offenses. Why can't professional players be given the chance to earn back their spot in the highest stage of the games they love?