The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has almost reached the end of a two-year investigation regarding the exploitation of spectator bugs in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) esports.
The commission first caught wind of it in 2020, as coaches were using it to give their teams an unfair advantage in the game. Some 37 coaches were sanctioned for their role in using the bug, with bans ranging from a few months to three years.
However, recent reports have revealed that a lot more CS:GO coaches could be in the firing line. When 37 coaches were sanctioned in 2020, only about 20% of the data had been analyzed.
Although the commission is yet to reveal names, it said in a press statement that another 47 offending coaches had been uncovered, bringing the total number of culprits to 84.
The ESIC has acknowledged that the investigations have taken a while, which prompted this release before sanctions are handed out:
“While ESIC is aware that the Spectator Bug matter has been active for an extended period of time, it has been deemed necessary that ESIC make an interim release ahead of ESIC’s upcoming enforcement activity in the public interest.”
During the investigation, ESIC discovered two specific variants of the spectator bug – ‘free roam’ and ‘third-person’.
The third-person spectator bug is said to have affected 47 participants, and it only lasted for one round. The statement also revealed that it posed a low risk to competitive integrity, especially as it affected every participant. Regardless, punishments will be handed out to those who chose to cheat.
Given the severity, or lack of it, of this bug, the commission revealed that the penalty would be a 30-day ban for each round the bug was used. However, those whose use did not last for up to one round will be reviewed separately, and their penalty will be solely at the discretion of the Commissioner.
“In certain circumstances, participants were affected by the Third-Person Spectator Bug for less than 1 round. In those circumstances, the Commissioner will review the matter on a case-by-case basis to determine if those occurrences should be included.”
Regarding the free-roam spectator bug, only three participants were found wanting. According to the release, this is the most severe use of the bug, as it gave users the license to fly around the map without any limitation.
Four participants in the 2022 PGL Major Antwerp are culprits based on the findings of the investigation. However, the ESIC revealed that only three would be punished accordingly, given the severity of their crimes.
The three affected participants have been provisionally suspended and will not feature in the Antwerp Major. The ESIC says the charges will be issued imminently, which suggests that sentences might be dished out before the 2022 PGL Major is scheduled to commence on May 9.
A total of 24 teams representing several regions have already sealed their spots to compete for a piece of the $1 million prize pool as well as BLAST Premier points. However, some teams might be short-handed for the event.