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UPDATE SEPTEMBER 28 - Exploitation of coach spectating bug in CS:GO

Josh Folland
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Update - Monday, September 28th, 2020

On the 4th of September the ESIC announced an investigation into the abuse of a bug in CS:GO’s spectator mode. As result of Part 1 of their investigation, the ESIC has issued sanctions against 37 offending parties. The bug was abused in 96 maps out of 99.695 demos analyzed so far.

ESL and DreamHack take the competitive integrity in our tournaments and the esports ecosystem at large very seriously and have fully supported the ESIC’s investigation and will therefore respect and follow all sanctions recommended by ESIC regardless of whether they are for offences in ESL or DreamHack tournaments or other tournaments.  This includes sanctions to 10 coaches that have knowingly used the bug in our official ESL and DreamHack tournaments dating back to ESL Pro League Season 4 in 2016. In regards to the three coaches that have prior been disciplined and received bans, and in consultation with the ESIC, the duration of these previous bans will now be altered following ESIC’s standardized sanctions and concession matrix:


Nicolai 'HUNDEN' Petersen was originally sanctioned with a 12-month ban which will now be reduced to a 8-month ban in accordance with the agreed standard and application of concessions, in particular for his help with the investigation.
Ricardo ‘dead’ Sinigaglia was originally sanctioned with a  6-month ban which will now be increased to a 6.5-month ban.
Aleksandr ‘MechanoGun’ Bogatyrev was originally sanctioned with a 24-month ban which will be increased to a 36-month ban.


Additionally, ESL and DreamHack will take action against any party that abused the coaching bug in an ESL or DreamHack competition as listed below.

If you wish to understand more regarding the ESIC’s investigation, the standardised sanctions, concession matrix, all information can be found in ESIC’s announcement statement. Those sanctioned are still welcome to appeal via the ESIC Appeal Process in the aforementioned statement.

All teams affected by these sanctions will be retroactively disqualified from the tournament in question and will also forfeit any ESL World Ranking or ESL Pro Tour points from the tournament in question. Additionally, teams will be disqualified from an active or upcoming tournament if the bug has been used to qualify them into that tournament and the said tournament has not been completed yet.

 

Upgrading our Integrity Protocols

Since being made aware of the coaching bug we have ensured that it has not and cannot be used during any of our competitions. In the previous weeks we’ve also had extensive internal discussions and reviews on further protecting the competitive integrity during our online competitions and are in the process of strengthening our high standards. Changes that have been made over the last two weeks include:

  • Referees are now recording voice communication during official matches
  • The streaming delay of official matches has been increased to 4 minutes
  • Teams are required to provide web camera feeds of players and coaches
  • Developing a program for anonymous reports together with ESIC


We’d like to particularly thank Michal Slowinski and Steve Dudenhoeffer for their hard work over the past few weeks in assisting the ESIC, ourselves and keeping the competitive integrity of Counter-Strike at heart.


Original Statement

Recently, we were made aware that by taking a combination of different steps, a bug in CS:GO allows the coach of a team to become a spectator anywhere on the map, unbeknownst to anyone else.

The coach would then be able to stay in that position, getting a free camera/observer position on e.g. the opposing team’s spawn area (or other areas of the map that would be hidden to the team otherwise), and could advise their team to react based on that knowledge.

We consider this to be in violation with our rulebook, section “6.10.5 Use of Bugs and Glitches.” We have since introduced measurements that prevent this abuse which have been in place starting with ESL One Cologne.

After closely analysing all matches from ESL and DreamHack competitions which took place in the past months, and consulting with Valve in the process to solidify our findings, we have identified the following coaches to have knowingly misused the bug for a competitive advantage in live tournaments:

  • Hard Legion, MechanoGun at ESL One Road to Rio on 6 maps in 3 matches
  • Heroic, HUNDEN at DreamHack Masters Spring in 10 rounds on 1 map
  • MIBR, dead at ESL One Road to Rio in 1 round on 1 map

Based on the findings and our rulebooks, the following ruling is made after consultation with ESIC:

  • dead will receive a 6-month ban from playing or coaching in competition
  • HUNDEN will receive a 12-month ban from playing or coaching in competition
  • MechanoGun will receive a 24-month ban from playing or coaching in competition
  • The teams will retroactively be disqualified from the tournament in question
  • The teams will forfeit their ESL Pro Tour points from the tournament in question
  • The teams will forfeit their prize money from the tournament in question

The individual teams have been contacted and informed. We have also notified other tournament organizers of this and will help them investigate the matches on their end. ESIC will be issuing separate sanctions with a statement in due course under the ESIC Player Code of Conduct, which was applied at our tournaments and has been breached by these coaches. ESIC sanctions apply to all ESIC Member events, and apply further than our sanctions which apply only to DreamHack and ESL tournaments and leagues.

As part of this announcement, we consider it also important to note that multiple coaches other than those mentioned in this post have encountered the bug. They did not abuse it in any way.

We want to thank Michal Slowinski (CS:GO Referee) for his significant contribution and work as part of the investigation.

Competitive integrity of tournaments is our highest priority, and we will continue to work towards creating a clean and reliable competitive environment.

Clarification - September 2nd, 2020 

The coaches in question must:

  • Not actively or passively communicate with the team starting 15 minutes prior to the official match start up until the end of the match
  • Not be physically present around the team starting 15 minutes prior to the official match start up until the end of the match
  • Not be on the game server during official matches
  • Not be on the official match channel on the Discord server
  • Not be part of the official map veto process nor be in communication with the team during this process

Addition to offline events (once they return), on top of the previous points:

  • Must not be submitted as part of the team, and will not receive access to backstage areas nor allowed to be in any area provided by ESL/DH to the team (e.g. practice room)