ESIC bans player for two years

A professional eSports player has been handed a two-year ban after he confessed to cheating during the Mettlestate Samsung Galaxy CS:GO Championship this month.

The eSports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), a non-for-profit organisation which was set up to clean up the eSports industry, handed down the ban to Connor Huglin after it was revealed he was using a third-party cheating software.

The ESIC was set up last summer in the UK and this will be its first punishment after the player who went by the screenname “zonC” and played for Armor Legion Gaming accepted a plea bargain.

While Valve’s anti-cheat software was applied, it did not pick anything up. Huglin eventually admitted to using cheating software and voluntarily removed himself from competitive CS:GO. He also apologised to the Counter-Strike community Mettlestate, and his team.

“It is always disappointing when someone cheats and it gives me no pleasure to ban a player, but cheating cannot be tolerated in e-sports,” said ESIC’s e-sports integrity commissioner, Ian Smith.

“It fundamentally undermines the integrity and credibility of our industry. I hope this demonstrates that ESIC will deal quickly, decisively and proportionately with cheats following a fair process.”

Mettlestate’s CEO, Barry Louzada commended ESIC for its handling of the situation.

“Mettlestate are really glad to have a partner like ESIC on board to assist with these kinds of situations,” he said.

“It is never easy to have this kind of thing happen but when it does, knowing that there is guidance from ESIC ensures that it is dealt with properly.”

Many media outlets are questioning the level of cheating in eSports since it is a young “sport” – some are even questioning if it is a sport – and lacks proper regulation.

As a result, the ESIC has released a survey to grasp the consensus on cheating in eSports.

“Esports is a community driven medium and therefore it makes sense to canvas opinion from the wider eSports community,” Smith said.

“Following the conclusion of the survey I hope we can come to a consensus on how to sanction cheats in eSports and create a level of consistency that is deemed fair by the industry.”

Huglin’s ban is just one of a number of issues which has resulted in the questioning of the industry’s integrity. Last year, former Starcraft II world champion Lee “Life” Seung Hyun was caught throwing matches for an illegal Korean gambling group.

The top gambling regulator, the UK Gambling Commission – which recently won the right to prosecute and convict the promotion of virtual item gambling, such as skins, to minors – regularly releases reports about the level of corruption which could be present in eSports.

This coincides with a UK lawyer who specialises in gambling licensing, Christopher Rees-Gay’s view. He wants betting companies to do more to detect unusual wagering behaviour in eSports.

“ESports is a growing area in the gambling market, and the Gambling Commission looked at ‘eSports integrity’ in a position paper it released on virtual currencies, e-sports and social casino gaming in March,” he said.

“The paper sets out that the ‘betting industry should satisfy itself that competitions upon which markets are offered are effectively managed to mitigate the risk of corruption with its attendant consequences for their consumers.

“Hopefully this incident will be a one-off, but it will be food for thought for British bookmakers as a consideration when looking to push into this growth area.”

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