The last of the qualifiers was held over the weekend for the year’s biggest Counter-Strike tournament. But a controversy involving one of the winning players quickly became a bigger story than the teams who managed to qualify.
Coming into the weekend, six spots still needed to be filled out for ESL’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in Cologne. Three other qualifying spots had already been filled: iBUYPOWER in the United States, Vox Eminor in Australia, and Wolf in India.
The six remaining spots would be competed for by the best teams in Europe who had not already been directly invited to the event.
Some of the qualifying teams were no surprise. French sides Epsilon and Titan were joined by Ukrainian team Natus Vincere and Copenhagen Wolves of Denmark. More surprising was the qualification of London Conspiracy, the Norwegian team who recently added Preben “prb” Gammelsæter to their ranks.
But the biggest surprise of all was that of the Russian and Ukrainian squad Dat Team.
After a surprising two-games-to-none sweep of Mousesports in the qualifier’s first round, Dat were faced with rising Swedish side ESG in a series with a qualification spot on the line.
Things quickly grew heated between the two teams, culminating in an outburst late in the second game during which multiple members of ESG bluntly implied that Egor “Flamie” Vasilyev, who was playing for Dat as a stand-in, was cheating.
The accusations beagn with Vasilyev’s relatively low number of hours in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This made it clear that the account Vasilyev was playing on was not his original, and it is often the case that players create and play on new Steam accounts after their previous account is banned by Valve’s anti-cheat service, known as VAC.
This hypothetical seemed to be given further credence when it was discovered that the steam account linked on Vasilyev’s ESEA player profile had received a VAC ban. If this were true, it should have resulted in a ban from ESL events for Vasilyev as a result of ESL’s recent rule change, as well as the disqualification of Dat Team from ESL Cologne.
But Vasilyev and his teammates were quick to proclaim his innocence. Through posts on forums in which he responded directly to his critics, Vasilyev explained that while he had indeed been banned, it wasn’t by VAC. He had been given a trade ban, the result of the murky practice of trading weapon model skins for cash.
The steam account linked to in Vasilyev’s ESEA profile was, according to him, just the result of another player having taken his former customized url of “flamiew0w” after he had changed it, something anyone could do by simply adjusting the settings on their online Steam profile.
Convoluted as the issue seems, Vasilyev’s story does seem to check out and it’s unlikely that ESL will intervene unless something else should arise in the near future.
Some fans also commented on the irony of Marcus “Delpan” Larsson taking the lead in the accusations, considering that Larsson himself has previously been found guilty of cheating online.
ESL Cologne will be held from August 14-17 and features a $250,000 prize pool, the biggest of the year in Counter-Strike.
Screengrab via Twitch/RoomOnFire