In late December, German esports organization myRevenge was approached by a group of Counter-Strike players led by Robin “Robsen” Stephan. They wanted to know if the organization was interested in taking on a new Counter-Strike team.
The players had formerly been associated with the Dot Pixels organization, and professed to have left Dot Pixels over problems with the team’s sponsorship.
After a review of the team’s history, which included a recent appearance in the ESL Pro Series playoffs, myRevenge agreed to work with the players with the understanding that the team’s successes under the partnership might lead to additional funding and opportunities.
“We think this may have been planned against myRevenge.”
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been rocked in recent months by a series of match-fixing and cheating scandals that have reached the highest levels of the game. Unbeknownst to management at myRevenge, Stephan and his crew were about to thrust the team into the center of the controversy.
“They seemed like pretty nice guys, they were friendly,” myRevenge’s marketing manager Simon Adam told the Daily Dot.”Nothing negative to say about their personalities.”
But problems would soon arise. The team was scheduled to compete with Hungarian opponent Volgare in a showmatch on Jan. 6. Expectations were low given that the match was an exhibition, as Nadia Thümling, another marketing manager for myRevenge, explained.
“Because it was a showmatch we knew they might not do the best they could,” Thümling said. “But we never thought they’d throw the match or that they were aware of any bets.”
Though the match was an exhibition, betting website CSGO Lounge still chose to host it, allowing fans to bet Counter-Strike weapon skins, with real-world value, on either team. And as myRevenge’s new team were considered heavy favorites, there was a good opportunity to win big by betting on Volgare’s slim odds.
When the match played out, something seemed amiss to myRevenge staff. Volgare won in a clean sweep, and the new myRevenge team looked helpless at times.
“We watched the game and after the match we said, ‘OK, that was really shit,’ and we strangely couldn’t reach the team after that,” Thümling said.
Shortly after the match, CSGO Lounge announced the findings of a snap investigation: myRevenge had not only thrown the match, but both members of the team and friends of the players had placed numerous bets favoring Volgare.
A member of myRevenge made a maximum bet against his own team, CSGO Lounge alleged. At the same time, a vast majority of some team members’ Steam friends made similar bets both on their personal accounts and alternative accounts.
MyRevenge staff quickly sought answers from their new Counter-Strike team, who were less than forthcoming.
“The team manager told us that they didn’t know about it,” Thümling said.
But soon, Thümling and her fellow staff members were provided with screenshots that directly contradicted the team’s position, showing the team manager and his players advising their friends to place bets against myRevenge to take advantage of the match being thrown.
“The players knew they could beat Volgare every day,” Adam said. “They told us they didn’t try hard because it was a show match, so we were aware of them not playing at their best level, but we never expected them to lose because of bets.”
Stephan and his crew were about to thrust the team into the center of the controversy.
Reports have suggested that players quit the team amid the rising controversy. But according to Adam, myRevenge released the players immediately following myRevenge’s confirmation of the CSGO Lounge announcement. But the players weren’t willing to wait to hear about the decision.
“We started to kick some of the players (from the team), and the rest of them left, so they knew something like this was going to happen,” Thümling said.
Since that decision was made, no one from myRevenge has been able to make contact with the players. They did not respond to requests for comment on this article.
While on the surface the situation seems to be as simple as a group of Counter-Strike players trying to make some extra money through dishonest means, Thümling thinks their actions may have been more personal.
“We think this may have been planned against myRevenge, to put us in the situation we’re in,” Thümling said.
Indeed, myRevenge has suffered a big hit to its reputation, but also an apparent loss in funding. Adam confirmed that the esports organization had lost sponsors as a result of the match-fixing scandal.
“We’re in contact with our lawyers. As we’ve lost sponsors because of this incident, we’ll try to sue [the players] for damages to our reputation,” Adam said.
While the specifics of such a lawsuit are still being considered, one thing is clear: myRevenge is taking a hard stance against the players. In the future, other organizations across all games may need to follow suit to convince players that match-fixing simply isn’t worth it.
Image via Moisés Italiano/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed