[toc]The lead commissioner at the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) says the publicity garnered by the decision to ban two players for match-fixing at a recent Dota 2 tournament has had a “significant impact” as it once again draws attention to the dangers now apparent within esports.
Ian Smith, the integrity commissioner of ESIC, was speaking in the wake of the news of the two-year bans for Leonid Kuzmenko and Dmitri Morozov. They were alleged to have fixed a match at the Uprise Champions Cup tournament held in September.
The publicity over the case will have been beneficial, he suggested.
“Because of the highly confidential nature of a lot of what we do, it makes the task impossible to talk about, at least as much as it is publicly perceived,” he told Esports Betting Report.
“I don’t think players yet understand how increasingly likely it is that they’ll be caught if they try something like this now.”
Specifically in this instance, Kuzmenko and Morozov were found out after rumors surfaced about their behavior in a match at the UCC European qualifiers tournament against a team called Yellow Submarine.
An investigation was undertaken by the esports integrity services team at Sportradar using the esports betting data, which remains the strongest indicator of concerns that need to be followed up and will then usually be cross-referenced against match data.
ESIC is leveraging Sportradar’s multi-year expertise in this area. The company’s fraud detection system has been operating for many years across both traditional sports and esports and has a wide visibility across all the various betting markets.
This includes Asia, where Sportradar provides the only meaningful monitoring system available, but ESIC has as yet a minimal presence.
“Asia will be a major focus for ESIC in 2018,” he says. “In western markets, the chances of getting caught in betting fraud relating to esports markets is pretty high now.”
A work in progress for esports
The task of educating the esports market further remains a work in progress. The tournament organizers are a particular area of focus as ESIC and others continue to try and drive home the importance of integrity and of the concomitant sanctions and banning measures.
“Some do and some don’t understand the importance of this,” suggests Smith. “In my experience, most tournament organizers live at such a pace and in such a hand-to-mouth manner that they don’t have the time or the inclination to really consider these issues.
“Most have mercifully never experienced the reality of a match-fixing allegation or investigation. Most wouldn’t have the first idea of what to do if it happened to them.”
Face-to-face education on esports integrity
To help with the educational effort, ESIC announced earlier this week an anti-corruption online tutorial in collaboration with Sportradar which is being made available to esports players and other participants, including organizers, so that they can build up a “foundational level awareness” of the integrity issues around esports.
Smith says that education is the best deterrent to corrupt behavior.
“Face-to-face education has been very successful across the top end of CS:GO, Dota 2, SC2 and League of Legends, but that only goes so far.”
One area where Smith said he was very pleased with the progress so far was in persuading the esports bookmakers to sign up to the ESIC approach.
“These that have joined the ESIC network each contribute to a ring-fenced education fund that helps ESIC sustain and expand our efforts in that regard.
“We couldn’t do it without the betting operator support. Obviously, the more of them that get engaged with us, the more we can do and the better our alert network will become.”
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Betting and regulatory partners
ESIC’s betting partners include:
It also has agreements with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Malta Gaming Authority.
ESIC recently requested it be included as one of the bodies that shares information with the UKGC’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU). Although ESIC met some criteria, a recent UK government consultation document made it clear that it “appreciates the value ESIC can add” to the esports integrity area. It added that it would encourage the esports community to establish an “overarching esports governing body.”
Smith said ESIC already has an information-sharing agreement with UKGC, signed in May this year. He added that there was now a British Esports Federation, which ESIC supports.
“They have no integrity function, however, so wouldn’t be able to interact with the SBIU in any meaningful way,” he added. “I would hope (and I think this is the case) that the BEF would support ESIC in that role and defer to us on matters of betting fraud and match-fixing.”