A translation of the original publication of cyber.sports.ru in Russian.
Who is ESIC? Esports Integrity Commission, founded by Ian Smith in 2014, previously never worked in esports tied to traditional sports. They "deal with [...] the threat that matches manipulation and betting fraud and other integrity challenges poses to esports." A holy protector partnered with ESL, BLAST, WePlay, and more. You might know them for the infamous CS:GO coaching bug scandal.
Read more: Halloween Themed CS:GO Inventory
Yesterday, Alexey "Yarabeu" Kurlov claimed that he worked for betting companies and ESIC, helping both before digging a lot of dirt on pro teams and players. As an experienced bet company employee, he had his blacklist and knew match-fixing principles. It was his betting company to reveal the legendary 322 Solo case.
In his blog post, he accuses ESIC of helping betting companies and being utterly incompetent in their job.
Good day everyone!
In this blog, I want to tell the story of my life, during which I walked hand in hand next to the betting business, fraud, as well as esports. But let me start from the beginning.
Once upon a time, when I was young and not completely stupid, I registered on such a great site as IP.pokerlite. Today most of you won't recognize it, but esports old-timers may remember because later, this site will monopolize the esports betting market and will be the sponsor of all major organizations in the world that you love to this day. As you can understand, I signed in not only to watch Dota 2 broadcasts but also to try to earn money by betting. I may have been an ordinary student, but I was the most dedicated Dota fan who first watched the streams of Casper and Vilat [most famous CIS casters - ed.], and then switched to American tournaments, casted by Ayesee (it's amazing that I still remember how his nickname is spelled).
On this site, I made my dollar bets and lived the most ordinary life until a separate post appeared in their new-named same-branded group, in which people could leave small self-descriptions and try for a position on this very site. The competition was, of course, unrealistically interesting, I would say idiotic: you had to become a support operator for an hour, and the more and better you answer users' questions, the greater the chances to be hired were. I took second place and was taken on as a "replacement" for the winner, if necessary, that is a reserve. I was super happy with a job related to esports (chat operator) but still! It didn't really last long though...
Not my job, but my position did not last long because due to the fact that the boss and many office employees combined their main duties and support job and monitoring the website, rates, and everything that the betting company moderator does, they immediately gave it all to me and hired me as the main employee with fixed shifts. By the way, I had these shifts 7 days a week, but you can’t even imagine how happy I was then with this job. I had to not only answer people in support but also follow all the esports that were on my shift, I had to create lines, and odds, and close all sorts of side events that appeared with the development of esports, like first blood, first towers, or 10 kills. Sometimes when there was a Dreamhack, I sat with 20+ open streams and kept up with everything. Surprisingly, but I was young.
My salary was hourly, in dollars, and clear. Clear means that there was a common channel where people wrote how much they earned in a month. In my boss's and the founder's ideal world, this should have motivated us to work harder, but it only raised questions for other employees. Which questions? Imagine, you know a person for several years at work, you see their salary, you understand their annual budget, because they have nothing but work, and then you find out that they bought an old collectible GTR from Japan, went on a vacay to an expensive country, and then even bought a whole house in cash, bypassing taxes and citizenship laws. How? Investments? Crypto? Death of a wealthy relative?
Fake bets and match-fixing events, yes, you read that right. Some of the company's employees were interested in personal enrichment. Since for a long time, we were monopolists in the esports betting market not only in the CIS but also in the world, all the scammers stuck to us.
We caught Aleksey "Solo" Berezin and were pretty close to Vladimir "PGG" Anosov, but they were only a smaller part. Anyway, working all the time with bets, numbers, and teams, I began to build my own database of fraudulent players, teams, and people with whom they cooperate. I identified employees of other companies, brothers, sisters, and friends of esports players, established contacts, and, in general, started developing a base and a system for protecting my bets, so that I would not have to block accounts 10 times, and ideally not get a statistics downfall, since my bosses penalized us for this.
While I was collecting this base for defense, some employees were collecting it for the attack, and since I am a fairly sociable person, one day one of these employees in a conversation offered me the opportunity to "make money on the side". For me, this was not something surprising, we were all at a meeting where people boasted of financial successes dumped from other companies. What did our bosses say? They were satisfied: "We are robbing competitors, which means we make a profit for our site" and, you know, it sounds simple, but it was enough. So I was offered to plunge not into the process of protecting my own rates, but into the process of attacking other companies.
While I was blacklisting people who organize 322 and all that, some employees wrote to these people and offered their analytical assistance in the process of placing bets since no one knew better than us how to catch a dishonest user, which means we could eventually imitate honesty but not be one. And you know, I agreed, without a second thought. We started betting on StarCraft 2 with Revolver being the organizer (google him, he has been long been banned by Blizzard for match-fixing). I did the necessary actions and received my %. It was then that I realized and saw by personal example that 99% of the companies on the market not only didn't know that there were fake or fraudulent matches but also did not believe in it. Which meant that we calmly took not one, not two, and not even ten thousand dollars at a time. Over time, everything became very suspicious, BCs started banning accounts and the system outlived itself. Remembering this, I can only say: "Damn, I should have asked for a larger percentage of my work."
By the way, when they started trying to catch us, in one of the countries they even took us to the police after instructions from one of the main esports representatives (Stepan Shulga, howdy, though). But where is esports and where are the laws on it? I think you understand. They asked one of the team members how he managed to predict the events, canceled the bets, and let him go home. Nothing criminal.
Since betting on SC2 had become obsolete, we had to do something else, and our small team switched to Dota, and then to CS:GO. There is a lot to write about because after participating in this, there are more than 500 names of esports players who took an active part in making money in my database. But it all happened not only because we were sharks in the ocean, but because the CHINESE took us under the wing.
Chinese? What about the Chinese? Well, 99% of the match-fixing market is owned by them, they are the big bosses, they pay the money, they create the tournaments, and pay the salaries. When another "knowledgeable esports scam expert" tells you that China is the root of everything, he is an idiot. The Chinese directly own the players and teams. While the esports organizations pay the team’s clear wages, they don’t even suspect that this team has a second owner in China, who pays not only a salary higher than the organization but also a percentage of a completed match-fix. The money we got—not as much as you can imagine, on SC2 we received a lot at a time, little at a distance— was little at a time, but at a distance it was surreal. I shared my poor percentage with the person who brought me into this, they leveled us, so to speak. We made bets in Europe and the CIS, while they worked in China for a long time.
Over time, from a simple student and a Dota 2 fan, I turned into a member of a criminal gang. And not a single one, there are many in China, as well as their orders, and even more schemes for execution. I moved to another country, bought myself a car, went on vacation to expensive countries, and got married. In general, a successful adult no matter how you look at it.
So, the title says "fraud". You've already read about frauds, although this is the tip of the iceberg, but I had to bring you up to date. What does ESIC have to do with it?
All this time we have been employees of a betting company and professionals in our field, analysts who are able to set odds and think ahead, we were even among the first to launch LIVE for esports, and I was the person who did it. But everything has to end, and so the monopoly of our company ended, problems appeared, including internal quarrels between employees for every penny (I remind you that salaries are still open). Therefore, I decided to leave the company and try to get a job somewhere else. It took a lot of time until someone was really interested in me, that's how I got a new job and I was glad, I don’t know why, but despite all the financial advantages from my "dark" job, I was glad to return to the betting company again and instead of placing bets, I was happy to catch those who are trying to deceive us (my new company). This allowed me to enjoy my work again and at some point stop betting. Since I went to a psychologist (and since a rich person could afford personal development), I realized that it’s better to get paid less but work with pleasure, than get more and hate yourself.
One way or another, I worked, lived, and smiled, and my database remained, along with people who constantly tried to drag me back. Although I didn’t do anything, I always was and, most importantly, WILL STAY up to date with everything that happens with esports, who works for whom, who, and when commits a match-fix, fraud, or something else. The types of how you can make money on bets now are simply endless.
My new company was a member of ESIC, which means we received letters from them asking to check some events for suspicious betting activity. At some point, I began to answer these letters not just with yes/no information, but with a description of the team or tournament in which it was, how it works, who created it, and which teams are involved. This interested the main founder of the company, Ian Smith, we talked with him a couple of times, and he offered me the position of head of the investigation department, but with a consultant contract for 3 months. While we were negotiating with him, I did not stop sending information about every event that I knew about or saw. Job received, I'm Head of Investigation at an esports integrity company with a three-month test, now I'm not just going to catch betting scammers, but in all esports, hooray!
No hoorays, no hoorays at all. When I arrived, I was shocked, firstly by the company’s system from the inside, secondly by their database, which turned out to be 50 times smaller than mine, and thirdly by their knowledge of esports and how to cheat in it. This is almost the middle of 2022, and I explain to them what is a GRID, what is an Observer, and how can a team access it and win. You will say "we don’t know all this either", but first, take it as a fact that this method is four years old, and the loudest scandal was with AKUMA, in which ESIC promised to sort it out is also based on this.
That is, the company that promised to sort it out doesn’t even know what it needs to do, after more than a year I tell them about it, but they don’t, well, they just don’t understand what I’m talking about. Speaking of the number of employees, I came in and headed the whole investigation department with investigations in ALL esports. Do you know how many people were in this department before me? ZERO, and with me a whole ONE!
One? Are you serious? Yes, there are only a few employees in ESIC, they are all lawyers, and all of them are not just far from esports, they are absolute 0 in this. There is also a poor secretary who is responsible for everything there, an excellent woman, but she has purely technical duties.
The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), formerly the Esports Integrity Coalition, is a non-profit members' association established in 2016 to promote and facilitate competitive integrity in esports.
Single out the NON-COMMERCIAL here, while in fact, it's a commercial one, the system of ESIC's work is not to ensure honesty in esports and promote it, but to connect more bookmakers to its system into a monopoly of market "security" and collect annual payments from them, transferring it to their personal accounts through salaries.
Speaking of security, in addition to the fact that their database is smaller than mine, it also dates back 2+ years, many teams that are there simply do not exist anymore.
Well, you told us this, and what? Well, they make money, so what? What are you not happy with?
With the fact that I came to the company to do investigations and blocked those who do this. I did quite high-profile investigations over these three months, started cleaning their database, and thought about updating it (thank God I didn’t). But the last month there has been decisive for me.
I conducted an investigation related to one of the bookmakers, which was not among the participants in the ESIC system since this company obviously had a mole who stole money from the company: he let them fake tournaments, made money on bets, and also laundered the budget. I did this because I simply witnessed this, which means that as the head of investigations, it was necessary. I made a contact and explained everything, the mole was found, and esports was cleared. Success!
No, not a success. At first, I got a penalty for doing it, but it was softened, as one of the key employees figured out how to monetize it, namely:
"We will first ask them to pay for the investigation, and then we will offer to help them clean up their reputation, and this will be VERY expensive for them, and since they want to get a place in the association, we will receive money from them, and in the end, we will refuse. And since they have problems with the legality in the US, we will use this as a reason for refusal."
At first, I thought that I missed something, then I noticed that for almost three months not a single one of my investigations had been published, and not a single person had been punished. I investigated, interviewed witnesses, and I was also on calls with game publishers, but this was not done in order to help esports, but for ESIC to shine its name.
That is, you take a HUGE name, tell companies about it, tell them that you know about it, and that's it, you do nothing else, nothing at all.
At some point, ESIC's partners began to contact me with questions: what about the investigations? Will there be any information? Can ESIC share a list of dishonest teams? And I could not answer, because no one was going to answer me.
By the way, some of my investigations are really large, one is even connected with RIOT and 322 in South America, so if ESIC ever decides to publish it and carry out "sanctions", you can appreciate my work :) Yes, by the way, any investigation they publish is my work.
That is, ESIC's system is built like this. Betting companies and large organizers pay ESIC -> ESIC grabs everything and thinks about how to get more. A non-profit organization by the way. True, it also went into my pocket for the whole three months, they paid well and this could've prolonged for a very long time. So why am I unhappy?
The fact that such a thing exists. I earned enough through dishonestly in my life to give it up, I was imbued with the idea of changing esports and cleaning it from frauds and ended up in a company of scammers who stuck to esports, consisting of old dudes 40 yo plus, who are excellent lawyers, but zeros in esports. They all have their own lives and parallel careers, they are not interested in changing or doing something, aside from putting money in their pocket. Yes, but why did I think they weren't interested?
It's simple. After 3 months of hard work, with 0 publications and 0 involvement of ESIC in this (not counting the moments where they placed me in headlines to show how aware they were of new issues). I was told directly: here is a new contract, you don’t need to do investigations, you don’t need to do anything, you sometimes need to analyze what happened and share your inside information, otherwise sit on your paycheck and enjoy your freedom, you can even find a second job. Whaaaaa, the salary was too low you might say. No, it wasn't, the salary indicated in the contract is 6 times higher than the average salary in the place where I live, considering that I need to be on the call once a week and do nothing else, and I even can have a second job. Too easy.
But after working for three months struggling with what I once created and developed myself, it became important for me what I will do in my life. I don’t want to become a scammer, again and again, to earn money by scamming betting companies because of their profanity in esports. I want to change it, which is apparently simply unrealistic.
Once upon a time I personally wrote to v1lat: "I have direct evidence of the participation of t1 players in 322 in Dota", and he answered, "no one gives a f**k".
It happened many years ago, but this truth remains to this day, no one gives a f**k. There is not a single body and company interested in catching scammers, everyone is interested in their personal enrichment. Let them do 322, let them win with observers, let them create fixed tournaments, and launder money, no one cares about this and never will.
Media personalities and communities, this is true for you. Members of fraudulent teams who sell their matches for money, rejoice. No one will ever catch you or even plan to catch you, but I know everything about you, I remember and see, you are not in the shadows, you always will be in front of those who understand this.
I am not a writer and expressed my thoughts as best I could, I can’t write much, of course, it’s quite problematic, but I will be glad if this topic is interesting to you and someone wants to develop it and learn more about it in the format of a real dialogue, so I leave here my data, by which it is very easy to find me.
I also wrote to Cybersport.ru from my work email so that they could verify who I am, I no longer have access to ESIC's work email, but there are screenshots confirming my activities and work documents, which I will provide if necessary. I will also be grateful if you draw the attention of foreign journalists to my blog, I am ready to translate it and tell in English about what happened, I think that everyone should know about it. This is real dirt.