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Is Match Fixing a Real Danger to Esports?

12 Experts Weigh In

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Editorial Team

Contributed by Luka Petkovic of gamopo.com

Let’s face it — cheaters are no stranger to gaming.

During our whole gaming lifecycle, we are faced with cheaters left and right. If you ever played Dota 1 then you certainly know how annoying maphack used to be. Or wallhack in Counter Strike. So you’ll agree when I say that nothing annoys hard working gamer as much as a blatant cheater.

What happens to cheaters who grow up is, put simply, match fixing.

Match fixing is one of the best ways to cheat in esports — it’s next to impossible to figure it out without analyzing odd fluctuations on betting sites and it supposedly pays well.

Let’s quickly go back to 2015, when there were a number of fixed matches in the Global Starcraft 2 League. The same league that has witnessed the growth of one guy called Life, who won over $450,000 before he got arrested over match fixing charges in the beginning of 2016.

As a matter of fact, that same scandal saw more than 10 people arrested for the same match fixing allegations, which supposedly involved five fixed matches. Pretty optimistic, to say the least, considering how closely South Korea watches over their nation’s pride and joy that is their Starcraft 2 league.

This particular scandal spun off into a complete mayhem in mainstream media: news, detailed reports, statistical breakdowns — many people claimed that esports is facing a serious problem.

Even though the Starcraft 2 scandal I just mentioned is probably the biggest match fixing scandal in esports history, there were a couple of more that stirred the industry up:

  • The infamous iBUYPOWER loss in 2014, when IBP lost 16-4 despite being apparent favorites

  • The testimony of League of Legends match fixing in Korea by one of AHQ players

One of the ways we can prevent future match fixing in esports is by monitoring how betting patterns play out and how odds fluctuate. There are specialized services dealing with this issue, so we’re not going to delve into this.

What we’ve been missing in these past couple of years, however, is the general consensus on the topic of match fixing in esports.

Many have stated their opinions but not many people went deeper into the topic with the experts.

Just recently, we at Gamopo did an in-depth interview with an esports expert panel, consisting of casters, analysts, writers and team coaches in order to get their honest opinion on match fixing in esports.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what they said:

  • 7 out of 12 experts claimed that match fixing is an actual threat to esports

  • Some have limited it to 2-3 tier teams while some limited it only to less developed countries

  • Experts who said that match fixing is not an issue think that the current punishments are more than enough to stop future cheaters

You can read the full interview here.

For those of you that don’t feel like reading, here is an excerpt of some of the best answers:

Eoin Bathurst, esports analyst

© @SilentEchoUK

Match fixing in esports is as much a concern as it is in real sports. The media driven environment of today has exacerbated these issues which are actually no more prevalent than they have been in the past within traditional sports such as soccer or basketball.The difference is, in the past, it was much harder to be constantly aware of events like this and for league organizers it was much easier to control the narrative and limit the bad PR that such things could bring to the environment.

David “Blaze“ Dillon, Dota 2 caster

© @BlazeCasting

I believe the threat of match fixing in esports is a very real concern, especially in regional divisions with less economic and organizational stability. However, it is very difficult to determine whether a team simply had an off game and made too many mistakes or if they deliberately lost a game.

Kim “Drayich“ Larsson, Dota 2 caster

© 24kalmar

When the first betting company came to Dota, people immediately started to discuss match fixing. They questioned whether it would become a problem in the future. The answer to that question is a very brief — no. First of all, Dota has a lot of prize money involved, coupled with the chance to get invited to bigger competitions. I’d say as long as there is money involved in anything there is always a risk of cheaters, but the risk is not bigger within esports. We are in the arenas now, remember?

Alan “Nahaz” Bester, Dota 2 analyst

© Redbull

Basic economics suggests the decision to engage in match fixing should boil down to three factors: how much you can make doing it, how likely you’re caught, and how costly the penalties are if the latter occurs.The bottom line is match fixing in Dota is almost certainly limited to tier 2-3 teams in less developed regions.A nice corollary here is that the incentive to fix matches declines as competitive depth flourishes and those teams have a better chance to compete at the larger LANs. I’d imagine most other esports are similar. The biggest concern would have to be CS:GO. The total market for skin betting is an order of magnitude larger than cash, and most estimates I’ve seen suggest 75% or more of that is in Counter Strike.

Now I want to lay this over to you:

What is your opinion on match fixing in esports? Is it a real threat or we’re good at handling it?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.