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Henrieta | 6. May 2022

ESIC suspends three CS:GO coaches ahead of PGL Major Antwerp

The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued charges against three CS:GO coaches for the use of the spectator bug. The coaches from Team Spirit, 9z, and Imperial Esports were suspended from all ESIC member events and won’t be able to participate in the upcoming PGL Major Antwerp 2022. 

Sergey “hally” Shavayev (Team Spirit) and Rafael “zakk” Fernandes (9z) have been suspended for the use of the “static” spectator bug, while Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu (Imperial) has been suspended for using the “free-roam” bug, considered as the “more serious one”.

According to ESIC, Peacemaker used the bug once in 2018 when coaching Heroic, Hally used it in 2019 when coaching Espada, and Zakk used it with LG in 2018 and 9z in 2020. The length of the suspension for the coaches is yet to be announced.

Whilst PGL is not a member of ESIC, the tournament organiser decided to ban the coaches from the PGL Major Antwerp, which is set to kick off in three days.

Team Spirit objects to ESIC’s charges

In a response to the ESIC’s sanctions, Team Spirit expressed its disagreement with the sanctions in a Twitter statement. Nikita Chukalin, Team Spirit CEO, said in an official statement that at the time of the incident, hally was working as a coach for 4 months and didn’t know about the existence of the bug. Chukalin added that hully wanted to finish the round before reconnecting. Moreover, he was supposedly looking at his team and didn’t see a single opponent.

The statement also reads that no tournament operator uses ESIC’s code of conduct as an official document at their tournaments and that no one had introduced the organisation to the code.

The Russian organisation claims that ESIC offered a 25% discount on hally’s punishment period if he admits to all charges without defending himself. Spirit decided to give up the discount in order to “influence the future of esports”.

Following the statement, Journalist and Editor-At-Large For Dexerto Richard Lewis pointed out multiple discrepancies in Spirit’s stance, saying that the organisation has “tried to portray ESIC as an unknown, illegitimate entity”. Moreover, ESL commented it is impossible that Team Spirit could not know they are bound by ESIC’s code of conduct if they compete in their league.

Spectator bug variants

ESIC’s investigation of the spectator bug has been in the process since 2020, when the existence of the spectator bug came to light. The slow nature of the investigation was reportedly caused by the fact that there are multiple variants of the bug. During its inquiry, ESIC looked into 99,650 video records. 

In its report from yesterday, ESIC described three variants of the bug, namely “static view”, “free roam” and “third-person”. Back in 2020, 37 CS:GO coaches were sanctioned for using static view bug, the most common version of the bug, while 47 coaches are still waiting for ESIC’s verdict for the use of the same variant. The static view bug, which gives user a viewport angle that they should not have had, was observed in 98 matches.

The free-roam version of the bug, which enables user to fly around the map with complete control of the user, is said to be comparable with a benefit of a map hack, wall hack, or another cheat. Accordingly, it is being punished the heaviest, with penalties of up to 2 years. There were only three coaches affected by this variant, who have been provisionally suspended from all ESIC member events.

The last, third-person version of the bug allowed the affected participant to observe the game from a locked third-person view of their team’s players. However, ESIC deemed this version as the one with “a relatively low risk to competitive integrity” since the bug wasn’t induced by affected participants and lasted only one round in each instance. ESIC will therefore prosecute only those coaches, who decided not to pause the round and remain in the bug. The bug occurred 97 times in total and affected 47 coaches.

Given the relatively less serious nature of this variant, prosecuted coaches won’t be provisionally suspended with immediate effect and the penalty for one round with the third-person bug is a 30 days-long ban.

Header: Valve/ESIC