Counter-Strike analyst Sam “DaZeD” Marine announced in a YouTube video today that he may return to competitive Counter-Strike, if ESL allows match-fixing players to compete in its tournaments.
DaZeD is known for his role as in-game leader of the former iBuyPower roster of late 2014. The entire roster, minus Tyler “skadoodle” Latham, was banned from Valve-sanctioned Majors and other large tournaments in early 2015 for their match-fixing scandal. Valve, the creators of Steam and developers of Counter-Strike, spoke out against match-fixing and its detrimental effects on professional integrity and fair play.
The CS:GO community has continued its “#FreeiBP” movement since their forced retirement, calling for the formal unbanning of DaZeD, Braxton “swag” Pierce, Josh “steel” Nissan, and Keven “AZK” Larivière. The movement witnessed a resurgence when swag acted as a stand-in for Cloud9 at BeyondTheSummit’s CS_Summit event.
ESL player liaisons met with professional players at the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals regarding the league’s bans on cheaters and match-fixers. DaZeD noted that the players “unanimously” wanted the former iBP players to be unbanned by ESL. This is most likely because ESL has allowed cheaters, such as Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian, to return to its tournaments.
“Hopefully that means [iBuyPower] will be unbanned by ESL at least, and then maybe other organizations will follow suit,” DaZeD said. “Even if it were just ESL, it would be enough for me to probably play in some competitive fashion.”
The biggest caveat to this ordeal is that DaZeD has not spoken directly to anyone at ESL regarding the matter. Should DaZeD and the rest of the iBuyPower players be unbanned, this could mean an imminent North American roster shuffle, possibly the biggest in history.
“So for now, until I know and until I have some answers, I won’t be accepting casting gigs for the future after ECS,” DaZeD said. “I won’t be committing to anything long-term because I want to see what my options are if [we are unbanned].”
The complete unbanning of iBP would be an unprecedented event in the history of Counter-Strike.