Five Victorian men have been handed down corruption charges that can carry a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment after their alleged involvement in match-fixing a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in March last year.
It has been alleged by the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit that players involved in an Australian CSGO league were arranging to throw official matches, and placing fixed bets on the outcome of those same matches.
The police investigation began in March last year. The focus of the investigation, helmed by the VIC sporting integrity unit, was on one of Australia’s biggest Counter-Strike tournaments, the ESEA-Mountain Dew League.
The 13-month investigation centered around six matches in the semi-professional competition. Six players were signed to the team for the length of the competition, but only two active players were accused of any planned wrongdoing.
The initial stage of the investigation ran from March until August, when the Victorian police executed warrants in Melbourne’s Mill Park, South Morang, and Mount Eliza. Another warrant was also executed by the Western Australian police in Perth.
In total, it is suspected the two Counter-Strike players, as well as the three additional men now charged by the Victorian police, earned up to $30,000 betting on the fixed matches.
While $30,000 may not be much in the match-fixing world—infamous scandals like 1980’s huge Serie A disgrace, since dubbed the “Totonero” eclipse this—Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police Neil Paterson said he believes it far exceeds any earnings made by the semi-pro players.
“The motivation is greed. It’s money,” Paterson said on ABC’s ‘7.30’ in September last year when asked about the charged players’ motives.
“They weren’t making any money off playing the games because they’re not skilled enough at that particular level. The people that are professional players can make millions of dollars. These players were at the other end.”
That same sentiment was echoed by one of the now-charged player’s former teammates, who also played in the six matches in question. The anonymous player has since been cleared of any wrongdoing, and said they “jumped on to have fun.”
“Any sort of [corrupt] behavior like that, if it did occur, could have easily been concealed, just because of how bad we were,” they told ABC in September last year.
Other teammates—also asking for anonymity—confirmed they “weren’t a serious team,” and added none of the other players on the team “were intentionally trying to lose.” In fact, the team had decided it was to be their “final run” in the Counter-Strike scene.
According to a release issued by Victorian police on May 3, all five of the charged individuals— whose ages range between 20 and 27—have been handed multiple charges of “use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.”
One of the five, a 20-year-old man from Mill Park, has also been handed multiple charges of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event. He has also been charged for possession of cannabis, which was found at his residence.
The men have had their court dates set for September. They will appear in Melbourne and Sale.