The aftermath of the largest CS:GO scandal is upon us. After 37 coaches were banned by the ESIC, or Esports Integrity Commission, yesterday, many of the victims, their organizations, and members of the community spoke up. Some took it well, others - not so much.
The news hit like an Astralis HE thrown in banana. 37 CS:GO head coaches were sanctioned for exploiting the spectator bug to their team's advantage. The longest ban will span over a three-year period, so we're not speaking peanuts here. Fair to say CS:GO is facing its biggest scandal in recent history.
Some big names are publicly pilloried. Names that have a legendary status within the Counter-Strike scene. That inevitably leads to some polarizing opinions on the matter. Some feel the bans are 100% rightful, others - not so much.
The reactions to the first three bans against Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen, Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia and Aleksandr "zoneR" Bogatiryev were still clear and in places quite funny. There's always the danger of your words chasing you back and some of the naysayers found that out the hard way. Such as Natus Vincere, who's tweet on the matter is now a matter of serious ridicule after team legend and former coach Sergey "starix" Ischuk was included in yesterday's ban list.
With the news of 37 bans, the mood quickly changed from meme-ish to dead serious. While some coaches accept the punishment they have been given, others express their strong displeasure and feel that it is unfair and excessive. ForZe eSports is the first team to announce that it will take action against the decisions of the ESIC. Their head coach Sergei "lmbt" Bezhanov received a suspension of almost 8 months, which they feel is much more than he should have gotten.
Another accused is the ex-FaZe coach Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström. A true Counter-Strike veteran, he enjoys legendary status and reputation within the scene. Not only did he express his discontent with the accusations, but he also received the support of many in the community, including fellow Swedish legend Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund.
RobbaN's case is actually one of the strongest arguments against the harshness of the measures. His single use of the bug came in a 1-16 loss three years ago, which is hardly abusing anything. Yet he still received a 5-and-a-half-month suspension.
The question of whether the penalties are justified is difficult to answer. Cheating should be rigorously prevented and punished, that we all agree on. The whole spectator bug thing is slowly taking on alarming dimensions, however. For example, many of the alleged offenses are not only months or years old, but also concern only a minimal extent. In the case of RobbaN and some others, it wasn't even abuse but just an unfortunate set of circumstances.
In addition, only 20% of the available data material has been evaluated at this time. It can therefore be assumed that some coaches could still be caught, and existing penalties could be further increased. If the suspensions continue at this rate, we could run out of CS:GO, coaches, once the final report is in at the end of October.
Last but not least, a large part of the blame should lie on the shoulders of Valve who took years to fix the questionable bug. Some coaches stated that they had already pointed out the bug to the responsible personnel some time ago.
The last chapter in this saga is yet to be written. At the end of October, the ESIC's final report will see the light of day and with it probably further sanctions. We expect more of forZe and RobbaN's approach to challenge the decisions to come in the next days as this is getting out of hand.