Details are emerging of the first match fixing scandal to hit Chinese CounterStrike: Global Offensive. Evidence has emerged where Eastern Mysterious Power (EMP) appear to have bet against themselves, profiting from losing the second map of their WCA China qualifier against T.O.T. EMP are an up and coming side who last weekend won the WESG Hangzhou Qualifier to earn a spot in the WESG China Finals, which offers ¥100,000 ($14,720) to the champion.
Two players who appear to have been involved in placing the bets, however the performance of the entire team during the second map, Overpass, is under scrutiny. YuFan “Yvonne” Guo and WenXuan “Ling” Zhong both appear to have bet on the other side, T.O.T. with a handicap of +6.5 rounds – that is, T.O.T. would need to win at least 10 rounds in order for EMP’s players to win their bet.
EMP went on to lose the second map – their map choice – Overpass, 16-3, despite winning their opponent’s map pick, Cache, 16-6. EMP were heavily favoured to win Overpass, being priced at 1.22 with esports bookmaker EGB to win the map.
The bets were placed on VPGame, a skin trading and betting website with over 100,000 Facebook fans. Focused on the Chinese market, VPGame started offering CSGO skin betting after CSGO Lounge was shut down in August 2016. The site claims that “All the games in our website are just for fun. The items and P coins you win can not be converted to money”, however users can withdraw their skins to sell on third party marketplaces, the most famous of which is OPSkins.
YuFan “Yvonne” Guo bet 19 knives – estimated to be worth in total around $2000 – whilst WenXuan “Ling” Zhong bet 15 knives and an AK. The cheapest CSGO knife can be sold for around $50.
A tweet by CSGO fan Neil T suggests that the coaches of both sides are denying any involvement, however it would be an elaborate and fortuitous way to discredit EMP’s players in the unlikely case that emerges that the VPGame accounts are not their own. A conversation leaked on Baidu suggests this is not the case.
The fixture was a qualifier for the World Cyber Arena China Grand Finals and was broadcast on local streaming site douyu. The qualifier has a total prize of ¥100,000 ($14,685), whilst the China Grand Finals offer a further ¥230,000 ($33,850) and lead to the World Finals, which will be held in December in Yinchuan, China. Last year’s World Finals had a prize of ¥1,350,000 CNY ($195,000).
However, it is debatable whether betting should even have been offered on the match. It was already mathematically impossible that T.O.T. could qualify for the next round prior to the game. They sat in last position, already eliminated with 8 losses and 2 draws, whilst EMP, the side accused of wrongdoing, were in 6th place out of 9 teams, on 6 points with 9 to play for from their three remaining fixtures. The team in 4th, the lowest qualifying spot, Flash, already had 14 points with 4 games left to play – and an 81 round better map difference than EMP. Thus, it was incredibly unlikely that EMP would have been able to qualify, even if winning all their remaining matches.
As such, Sportradar confirmed to CSGOBetting.com that they did not offer prices on the match to any of their clients. Some European bookmakers, such as Betway, bet365 and Betsson, bet the win-draw-win market on the match. Only EGB appeared to have offered betting on the map winner and it is unknown whether any significant bets were placed with them.
This is the second scandal for Chinese esports in as many months, as this news follows last month’s bans from competition of two Chinese StarCraft II players Pang “Punk” Hao and Wu “Coffee” Yishen. The pair were banned from all Blizzard sanctioned competitions for two years and eighteen months respectively.
Report by Luke Cotton (@LukeCotton) for CSGO Betting