The NA Summer Shuffle promoted itself as a tier-two Dota 2 experience to fans. But what the event initially promised turned out as little more than a litany of false claims, according to several people in the Dota 2 community.
The Summer Shuffle falsified players, sponsors, and prize money for the event, even going as far as to postpone matches only to run those matchups without the actual teams, multiple sources claim.
Two different teams were quick to report that the tournament organizers for Summer Shuffle used their league ticket and fake player accounts to falsify game results. Infinity Esports reported that it was told that its matches were being postponed to July 1. But just a few hours later, the organization received notifications that its name and players’ tags were being used in games.
“We received messages where we were playing the tournament,” Infinity Esports said. “Upon finding out, we entered the organization’s discord and didn’t get an answer. Apparently fake accounts were created and used the team’s TAG along with the player’s nicknames to run the game. Just to clarify, we have nothing to do with these games and more are being investigated on the matter to solve the case.”
In those falsified match results, Infinity defeated Doze Reborn 2-0 in a landslide series. But Doze was the other team that thought something was off early, asking the TOs to confirm their sponsors and guarantee that the prize pool was legit.
“This is the state of T2 Dota, we haven’t played a tournament in weeks and Summer Shuffle couldn’t prove they were sponsored and had the funds,” Doze said. “THEN [they] used the ticket and fake accounts to fake our games being played and it was on betting sites.”
Kala, an admin for esports hub Liquipedia, and Louis, a contributor to the site, both took action, discussed, and kept tabs on the event for a while. This led to the warning signs being caught early and betting sites, teams, and even Valve being alerted.
Doze hit the nail on the head, and soon, teams caught on to the fact that the sponsorship with Vienna-based tech and marketing company Towa-digital was a complete front. The person reaching out to people like Louis and Underdogs League organizer Kyle “Xingtian” went by Glückspilz and told everyone he interacted with a different story.
“When I first started questioning [Glückspilz] he immediately tried to divert the subject to me trying to allow a monopoly on SA tournaments to continue,” Louis said. “That kind of behavior is almost always indicative of someone lying.”
Louis provided a screengrab showing that Glückspilz created a fake document that contained a falsified signature of one of Towa-digital’s employees, along with a copy and pasted sponsorship agreement that’s searchable on Google. He emailed the signature page to Towa-digital and got a response from the company.
“I emailed an image of that signature page to Towa-digital and they responded pretty quickly that it was fraudulent,” Louis said. “Once I got that confirmation, I informed all of the NA teams I had contacts with about it and then a few others helped contact the SA teams. Liquipedia banned him and removed his page.”
Within two hours of Louis receiving the response from Towa-digital, every team competing in the tournament was made aware of the fraudulent activity and agreed to abstain from playing. With that evidence, Liquipedia also immediately started working to fix the issue, deleting the tournament page and any related information.
Part of the fault does fall on the betting sites, however. If they had done more research into the tournament and found some of these inconsistencies before listing the matches, the entire situation would have folded once all of the teams dropped out. Unikrn’s CEO Rahul Sood outlined that point in a statement about Summer Shuffle, noting that his company didn’t list odds for the event.
“Unikrn had already flagged Summer Shuffle as problematic due to several visible factors: lack of known tournament organizer, sudden appearance, small community footprint, unverified prize pool and other considerations,” Sood said. “Correctly and responsibly operated, betting is a driving force behind growth an opportunity in esports. When irresponsibly operated, it creates many opportunities and incentives for abuse.”