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ESIC’s novel sanctioning methods in the CS:GO “coach spectator bug” case

Young Man Playing Video Game
Friday, 13 August 2021 By Daniel Kozelko

In the last year the professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) scene has been rocked by significant allegations of widespread cheating. In September 2020 the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) commenced an investigation into the “coach bug”, a form of cheat that allowed a team to gain a tactical advantage through their coach clandestinely spectating the opponent team. The author wrote for LawInSport on this issue following ESIC issuing an initial slew of sanctions against three players. That article, which provides the background for this update, can be found here[1].

Since then 37 coaches have been sanctioned, ESIC has concluded this form of cheating was “widespread” and decided it will not undertake further historic investigations, and the game’s publisher, Valve, has banned coaches from being present in competitor rooms (or on the server) during live play.

This is a striking case. That the use of this bug was so widespread is indicative of the difficulty ESIC and others face in trying to regulate esports competitions. This article considers:

  • Background facts
  • The outcome of ESIC’s investigations and its novel sanctioning methods
  • Valve’s response to the investigation
  • Next steps and comment

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Written by

Dan Kozelko

Daniel Kozelko

Daniel practises from 39 Essex Chambers and has a particular interest in eSports issues.

He has significant experience in commercial and civil disputes. This includes assisting in multi-million pound contract and construction claims in the High Court, in arbitral proceedings, and appearing in the High Court on civil and regulatory disputes.

Daniel also has an interest in disciplinary proceedings, having worked on a number of matters for a variety of regulators. Daniel is an avid gamer, with a particular interest in MMORPGs, grand strategy, and FPSs. He looks forward to bringing his gaming knowledge to eSports and video game disputes.

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