Electronic Sports League (ESL) is lifting lifetime bans from a few players who were previously caught match-fixing in competitive Counter-Strike events.
In early 2015, it was confirmed by Valve that seven players between North America’s iBUYPOWER and France’s Epsilon had breached the moral and ethical codes of fair play. Sam “DaZeD” Marine, Braxton “swag” Pierce, Joshua “steel” Nissan, and Keven “AZK” Lariviere from the former; and Duc “cud” Pham, Derek “dboorn” Boorn, Casey “caseyfoster” Foster from the latter, had colluded with the opposite to throw their games. As a result, they all were barred from ever competing in Counter-Strike on a professional level ever again.
The sanctions for the affected players will now be lifted with the start of the next month, giving them the opportunity to once again participate in ESL. However, the lifetime bans have only been lifted from the side of the tournament organizer. They still remain banned in the books of Valve. This means that the players can play third-party Counter-Strike tournaments but not those that are partnered with Valve. In other words, Counter-Strike Majors being hosted by ESL will still impose the ban.
“We believe that integrity and fair play are of the utmost importance in esports, and our updated catalogue of sanctions reflects that commitment,” said Ulrich Schulze, senior vice president product at ESL, on the official website. “All of these adjustments do not apply to bans and punishments issued by Valve directly though, which will still be in place for all Valve sponsored tournaments run by ESL, such as Majors.”
The decision to offer the charged players a second chance arrives on the back of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), which seeks to work with tournament organizers like ESL and develop standards for the effective policing of the breaking of rules.
Despite the bans being lifted, there remains the issue of which organization is going to pick the players up. Investing in players that cannot represent your brand in Majors, the most important and lucrative tournaments of Counter-Strike, is a downer.