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ESIC Issues 2 year ban to Nicolai “Hunden” Petersen for breach of ESIC Code of Conduct

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OVERVIEW:

On Tuesday 6th July, ESIC received notification that Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen had allegedly engaged in behaviour that could be classified as a breach of ESIC’s Integrity Program. Upon receiving this notification, ESIC commenced an investigation, reviewing the evidence then available and pursuing other investigative lines of enquiry.

On 28 July 2021, Mr. Petersen had made a public statement via his Twitter account in which he stated… “The material I have shared is anti-strat material of opponents…”. ESIC viewed this public admission, in conjunction with the evidence collected in the course of our investigation (described below) as sufficient grounds for a prosecution under ESIC’s Code of Conduct which applied to this situation by virtue of it occurring during the period of and related to the ESIC member event, IEM Cologne, and in which Mr. Petersen’s employer team, Heroic, was competing.

Having resolved a majority of available lines of enquiry that are relevant to Mr. Petersen’s behaviour, ESIC contacted Mr. Petersen by email on 19 August setting out the charge and requesting, amongst other things, a response relating to the charge. In response to a request for further information, ESIC issued an additional annexure to the Notice of Charge on 25 August 2021.

In accordance with the Notice of Charge served on Mr. Petersen, ESIC has issued a ban against Mr. Petersen for a duration of 2 years comprising the time between the dates 25 August 2021 and 24 August 2023.

Accordingly, ESIC makes this statement in the public interest.

INVESTIGATION OUTCOME:

The initial report to ESIC indicated that, just prior to the commencement of IEM Cologne, Mr. Petersen (at the time an employee and coach of the CS:GO team Heroic who were due to compete at IEM Cologne) sent strategic team information digitally through Google’s “Google Drive” application to a senior employee of an opposing team (“Incident”).

ESIC’s immediate concerns relating to the nature and content of the information shared by Mr. Petersen included, but was not limited to:

  • The perceived or actual threat posed to competitive integrity created by the Incident concerning the upcoming member event: ESL’s IEM Cologne;
  • The perceived or actual threat posed to competitive integrity in esports more broadly; and
  • The perceived or actual threat posed to the reputation of ESIC’s member, and esports more broadly.

Further to these concerns, ESIC identified that this Incident could constitute a breach of Article 2.4.5 of the Code of Conduct:

'Where the facts of the alleged incident are not adequately or clearly covered by any of the above offences, conduct that brings Esports, the Game, Event, ESIC or a Member into disrepute.'

Consequently, ESIC initiated an investigation resulting in evidence which it has relied upon in determining and issuing this sanction.

Investigation and Evidence

ESIC undertook extensive investigative efforts resulting in the compilation of evidence from a variety of sources including:

  • Examination of the google drive access records relevant to the Incident
  • Interviews with Heroic management
  • Discussions with opposing team management
  • Discussions and examination of evidence with the recipient of the information sent by Mr. Petersen via ESL officials, under ESIC oversight
  • Examination of the google drive contents
  • Examination of a forensic IT report produced by forensic expert firm Frend

In completing our investigative efforts, ESIC observed that:

  1. Mr. Petersen was in the process of negotiating a career move from Heroic to the opposing team;
  2. Mr. Petersen did, in fact (and by his own admission), send information to the opposing team that, at the very least, included information such as anti-strategy materials relating to Heroic’s opponents as well as other sensitive and potentially useful (to an opponent) information;
  3. The recipient had not, as a matter of forensic evidence available to date, accessed the information;
  4. Accordingly, IEM Cologne was not considered compromised from a competitive integrity standpoint;
  5. However, in sharing anti-strategy materials, amongst other potentially sensitive and useful data and information, with the opposing team during:
  6. Mr. Petersen’s employment with Heroic;
  7. Mr. Petersen’s transition or negotiation of career movement to that opposing team;
  8. Heroic’s upcoming attendance of IEM Cologne (in which it may have faced opponents which were the subject of the anti-strategy materials); and
  9. Mr. Petersen’s knowledge of the opposing team’s attendance of the same event;

Mr. Petersen’s behaviour factually:

  1. Created a threat to the integrity of an ESIC member event (irrespective of whether or not that threat materialised);
  2. Created a threat to the reputation of an ESIC member (irrespective of whether or not that threat materialised); and in doing so
  3. Threatened harm to the reputation and competitive integrity of esports, and ESIC’s member ESL.

Further to the above, and in affirming and conclusively evidencing ESIC’s observations, a public statement made by Mr. Petersen on 28 July 2021 via his Twitter account in which he states… “The material I have shared is anti-strat material of opponents…” amounts to an admission of Mr. Petersen’s conduct in perpetrating the Incident and corroborates ESIC’s observations making ESIC’s charge a self-evident matter.

Finally, ESIC notes that:

  • No component of this sanction attempts to resolve nor relies upon presuppositions or assertions relating to any ongoing dispute between Heroic and Mr. Petersen regarding employment law and/or alleged breach of contract issues;
  • No component of this sanction relies upon the materialisation of the threats caused by the Incident.

SANCTION ISSUED:

Accordingly, ESIC has issued Mr. Petersen with a sanction banning him from all ESIC member events for breaching Article 2.4.5 of the ESIC Code of Conduct:

2.4.5 Where the facts of the alleged incident are not adequately or clearly covered by any of the above offences, conduct that brings Esport, the Game, Event, ESIC or a Member into disrepute.

Sanction details are summarised below:

Ban Duration: 2 Years

Ban Start Date: 25 August 2021

Ban End Date: 24 August 2023

APPLICABILITY OF SANCTION:

As per all investigations conducted by ESIC, our determinations have effect across all of our membership. This includes ESL, DreamHack, WePlay, BLAST, LVP, Nodwin, Eden, Relog, UCC, Allied, Kronoverse, Estars, and 247 Leagues.

ESIC also requests that all non-ESIC member tournament organisers honour this ban.

ESIC COMMENTS ON MR. PETERSEN’S PUBLIC MISREPRESENTATIONS REGARDING THE INVESTIGATION:

On 25 August 2021, ESIC was made aware that Mr. Petersen had spoken to the news outlet TV2.dk publicising ESIC’s investigation and intention to issue a sanction against him. As a result of his contact with TV2.dk, the outlet published an article at 19:30 CET on the same day containing significantly erroneous information, propagated by Mr. Petersen.

Mr. Petersen’s misleading and disingenuous representations regarding ESIC and its investigative process have necessitated that ESIC clarify, as a matter of public record, the reality of the circumstances surrounding the investigation:

  1. Mr. Petersen’s claim that ESIC “chose not to hear [him] out”

This statement by Mr. Petersen is false.

Prior to any publication of its decision in this statement, ESIC contacted Mr. Petersen on 19 August 2021, making its intentions known to him via email and providing him with an invitation to respond. Since that time, ESIC has engaged with Mr. Petersen, inviting him to respond on more than one occasion to ESIC’s intended charge ahead of the publication of any release. To date, Mr. Petersen has failed to provide ESIC with any reply of substance relevant to the charge made against him.

  1. Petersen’s claim that “the only thing ESIC has done is to threaten [him] by saying that if [he] [chose] to appeal the verdict, [he] will be given a five-year ban instead”

This statement by Mr. Petersen is false.

Mr. Petersen was offered, as a matter of written record, a plea bargain in good faith (in accordance with Article 7.5.4 of the Code of Conduct and Article 4.6.1 of the Code of Conduct) at the discretion of the Commissioner that he remains free to contest by way of an appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel.

The NOC and the accompanying covering email dated 19 August 2021 was, in effect and appropriately, an offer of a plea bargain allowing Mr. Petersen the opportunity to accept the Commissioner’s decision or appeal it at risk of costs and a more onerous sanction at the discretion of the Independent Appeal Panel.

Accordingly, Mr. Petersen’s statements in this regard were not only a disingenuous misrepresentation of a plea bargain offered to Mr. Petersen in good faith by ESIC, but a misleading allegation that flies in the face of ESIC’s work in esports.

It is apparent to ESIC that, as a matter of observation, Mr. Petersen has attempted to employ tactics to evade the scrutiny that should rightly be placed on his conduct with respect to the subject matter of this release and divert attention to fabricated procedural issues which have no direct relevance to or bearing on the outcome reached by ESIC.

COMMENT FROM COMMISSIONER REGARDING PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT IN ESPORTS:

In relation to the topical issue of professional conduct in esports, ESIC Commissioner, Ian Smith, makes the following comments:

“As esports increasingly professionalises and continues to enter mainstream awareness, it is important that esports participants realise the importance of conducting themselves in a professional manner and with more careful thought to the consequences of their actions. Their obligations to their employers, tournament organisers and the broader esports community needs to be grasped and given higher priority than the mere advancement of one’s individual career. The sort of conduct punished here has to be unacceptable and would not be tolerated in traditional sport under any circumstances. Whilst I understand that, in the context of CS:GO, strategy and anti-strat are not the same thing, tactics used to counter a particular opponent based on their play style (anti-strategy) is undeniably a strategy in itself. Accordingly, I believe that what Mr. Petersen did was almost the equivalent of an NFL head coach providing his team’s general playbook to an opposing team before a game and there are no circumstances in which that can be justified.At a broader level, it is alleged in various public statements by Mr Petersen and others that swapping of information, strategies, data and tactics between coaches in CS:GO is common practice. I don’t know if this is true, but, if it is, it needs to end now, or at the very least in the build-up to events and tournaments. Competitive integrity is key to esports’ growth and future appeal and all participants ought to have this front of mind at all times.”

The original article can be found here.

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