Dota 2 esports has been hit with a match-fixing scandal, as team Meta4Pro announced on February 16 that it would be forfeiting its DreamLeague spot during an ongoing investigation.
Meta4Pro completed five of seven scheduled series in the Lower Division European Dota Pro Circuit. Through those five games, M4P was 0-5 overall with a 2-10 match record.
According to a statement from Dreamhack, the tournament organizers, Meta4Pro “suspect one of their own players to be involved in match-fixing.” As the investigation is ongoing, there has been no public word on which member of the team is suspected of match-fixing.
|Date||M4P Closing Line||Opponent||Series Score|
|Jan 18, 2021||+345||Spider Pigz||Spider Pigz 2-0|
|Jan 26, 2021||+150||No Bounty Hunter||No Bounty Hunter 2-1|
|Jan 30, 2021||+900||Hellbear Smashers||Hellbear Smashers 2-0|
|Feb 9, 2021||+105||Hippomaniacs||Hippomaniacs 2-1|
|Feb 13, 2021||+115||burjui||burjui 2-0|
The investigation has yet to be completed, but it’s not the first time Dota – or even esports as a whole – has seen such allegations. If you’re new to betting, you may be wondering what match-fixing is, or what this means for esports bettors overall. Let’s break it all down.
What is Match-Fixing?
Match-fixing is when one or more parties involved in a competitive contest decide to play the match to a predetermined outcome. It has happened in just about every competitive sport, ranging from amateur to the highest level.
There are many different types of match fixes, but when it comes to esports, it usually focuses on one party “throwing” or intentionally performing worse in a match. This doesn’t necessarily mean losing the match, but can also involve something like dying more frequently than usual, or making a series end in a predetermined scoreline.
The point of match-fixing is to place wagers on an unlikely result, netting a huge win. It is, however, illegal, as it violates not only the rules of a game but different laws by predetermining the outcome.
How Often Does Match-Fixing Take Place in Esports?
Match-fixing in esports seems to be a rare occurrence. Like any sport, there are examples big and small over the years and it’s most common at the lower levels.
We usually see match-fixing at the lower levels of competition because there is much less of a spotlight on these matches, and players earn low wages, if any, making them perfect targets for match fixers to scheme with.
When it comes to the overall number of matches that are fixed, it’s impossible to say. However, in 2020, there were just a handful of match-fixing cases that were confirmed to the public. This included a few games in minor Dota 2 leagues, as well as one relatively high-profile case that saw 35 Australian CS:GO players banned for match-fixing.
When it comes to the elite-level competition, no match-fixing cases have been announced and no players have been banned in recent history. However, this wasn’t always the case, and there are some famous examples of match-fixing at the top level of esports.
Biggest Match-Fixing Scandals In Esports
One of the earliest examples of elite-level match-fixing came from Dota 2, with the infamous “322” fix and subsequent ban. In 2013, a player named Solo was caught after betting against his own team and then losing the match on purpose, all with an aim to make $322.
The match was played in a minor league at the time, and the player faced a lifetime ban from the host, Starladder, which was later reduced to just one year. He hasn’t faced any further repercussions since and went on to have a successful Dota career. Solo has earned over $1 million in prizes so far and has seen his match-fixing become a joke/meme in the community, while no doubt having organizers keep an extra eye on his matches. Surprisingly, the overall repercussions for Solo were very tame, but this can’t be said for modern cases.
One of the most famous cases of match-fixing in esports comes from iBuyPower, at the time an elite CS:GO squad. The North American team preemptively decided to lose a match, with four of the five squad members being in on it, and placed wagers for themselves to lose, while being heavy favorites.
The match was played in August 2014, and by early 2015 an investigation confirmed that iBuyPower had fixed the match. This time, the repercussions were much harsher and more aligned with traditional sports. The guilty players faced an indefinite ban from all CS:GO competitions sponsored by Valve, the game developer, which still stands to this day, as well as multiple-year bans from all other organizers.
However, the players did not face any other punishments, and some even consider them lucky for avoiding repercussions from outside the game.
When it comes to punishments for match-fixing, these can extend to the involvement of authorities and things like fines and even jail time. While most cases of esports match-fixing are relatively self-contained, one famous Starcraft 2 example shows just how harsh punishments can be.
In early 2016, a Starcraft player called Life, who was then considered to be the SC2 greatest of all time, was caught in a match-fixing scandal. The player had received payment to fix two matches and was arrested in South Korea, where he was jailed for two months, and received an 18-month suspended jail sentence. He was also fined 70 million Korean won (around $65,000), stripped of his various championship titles and permanently banned from the game.
What Does Match-Fixing Mean for Esports Bettors?
While there have been examples of match-fixing in the past, the highest level at least has been devoid of confirmed match-fixing in recent years. With esports coming into the spotlight and becoming much more popular, strict rules have been put in place, and many regulations are tightly enforced to avoid match-fixing.
Of course, it does still happen, but it is largely in the lower levels. If you’re a casual esports bettor and stick to the mainstream events, you shouldn’t need to worry about match-fixing. Even if you like to bet on the obscure matches, we only see a handful of confirmed cases annually, and considering tens of thousands of matches are played a year, it’s fairly unlikely for your wagers to land on a fixed match.
Bookmakers also keep a close eye on each match and bets are often canceled and refunded if there’s any suspicion of match-fixing. As long as you stick to a reputable betting website, all you need to worry about is which wager to choose.