ESIC provides evidence to Valve related to potential match-fixing and betting fraud in Project X and Akuma matches

The esports watchdog has found out that Project X's CEO placed bets on matches played by his team and in the controversial match between Virtus Pro and Akuma, the tag of three former Project X players.

Image via ESIC

The Esports Integrity Commission has found evidence to suggest that Oleksandr Shyshko, the CEO of Project X, the former organization of three out of five Akuma players—Sergey “⁠Sergiz⁠” Atamanchuk, Alexandr “Psycho” Zlobin, and Dmitriy “SENSEi” Shvorak—has placed “numerous bets on highly suspicious Project X matches.” His bets took place when most of the current Akuma CS:GO lineup was playing for his organization, which ceased operations in March and saw the team disband.

The esports watchdog also added that Shyshko made an accurate pre-match bet on the outcome of Virtus Pro vs. Akuma in the EPIC League CIS, the first Regional Major Ranking (RMR) event for the region, which saw Akuma take down VP, the large favorite to win the match. This match between Akuma and VP has been at the center of cheating allegations aimed at Akuma and 14 of the 16 teams that attended the tournament signed an open letter to Valve last week asking the game developer to launch an investigation into Akuma.

ESIC forwarded the evidence it received to Valve and also recommends that ESIC-member tournament organizers don’t accept entries from Akuma, a team made up of more than three current Akuma players, or any team associated with Shyshko in their competitions until an investigation is concluded. The list of ESIC members includes some of the biggest tournament organizers, such as ESL, DreamHack, and BLAST Premier.

The evidence was gathered through the Suspicious Betting Alert Network (SBAN) and ESIC said there was a “reasonable basis to believe that potential match-fixing and/or betting fraud was perpetrated.” ESIC has forwarded the evidence to Valve since the actions happened in tournaments that aren’t partnered with the esports watchdog.

“While ESIC has not undertaken a full investigation into the detail, extent, and validity of any particular instances of match-fixing behaviour and the perpetrators of such behaviour – information on hand would indicate that this is a matter worth investigating further,” ESIC commissioner Ian Smith said in an official statement. “If ESIC did have jurisdiction, we would have opened a full investigation based on what we already know. ESIC has therefore referred the evidence available to us to Valve for further consideration.”

In the announcement, the ESIC clarified that it has “not sanctioned, nor does it currently plan to sanction any individual associated with its referral,” since it doesn’t have the authority to conduct a full investigation. Unless otherwise instructed by Valve, the ESIC’s actions will be limited to “the referral of evidence, recommendations to members and this statement.”

Akuma’s surprising run at the EPIC League CIS, where they made it into the playoffs after beating Natus Vincere and VP 2-0, has been a hot topic in the CS:GO community, especially after several clips of the team’s actions in matches have surfaced. In particular, questions have been raised as to why their players were looking at the game radar so much during clutch situations.

In the previously mentioned open letter to Valve, 14 teams that participated in the EPIC League CIS event expressed their concerns that Akuma may have received live data from third parties on external devices to gain the unfair advantage of seeing opponents’ positions on the map at all times. The RMR event organized by Epic Esports Events and the Russian Esports Federation (RESF) said Akuma’s players were investigated but “no signs of foul play” were found.

Valve should release an official position regarding Akuma and whether the EPIC League CIS RMR event should be replayed or not in the coming weeks.

SENSEi, one of Akuma’s players, has released a statement on behalf of the team. “None of Akuma/ex-Project X players were involved in betting on own matches,” the statement reads. “Also we want to claim that we cannot be responsible for our ex-CEO of Project X Alexander Shysko activities on betting websites. We are ready to cooperate with ESIC and provide all necessary information.”

Update June 9 9:50am CT: This article was updated to add the statement SENSEi released after publication.