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ESIC fines CS:GO’s Team Vitality $10,000 for “stream sniping” violation

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The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team Vitality, with a $10,000 fine following evidence of “stream sniping”, an act which sees players gain additional information about a game by seeing its broadcast stream during play.

Having received and assessed footage of the match in question, ESIC found that during the game against Team Liquid, members of Team Vitality could see a television in the lounge area of their offices with the broadcast stream of the match displayed.

ESIC also review footage showing that the same was true in a further match against the team Complexity. It said that its assessment of the footage did not suggest that the players were given information derived from the stream or that they gained any advantage as a result of the code violation.

In accordance with its zero tolerance policy on stream sniping, it said, and in the interest of proportionality, ESIC has issued Team Vitality with a $10,000 fine, stating that any suspension or ban for the team would constitute a disproportionate and unfair outcome of the review.

ESIC described the occurrence as being caused by staff negligence and not intentional malice. The error was made by unrelated staff who, “without thinking, simply wanted to view the match where they were working,” it said.

The commission had previously made a statement in November describing its zero tolerance approach to stream sniping.

Ian Smith, ESIC’s commissioner, said: “Whilst I am, naturally, disappointed that this has happened so soon after our announcement on this issue, I accept on the evidence that there was no malice intended and no bad actors actually trying to corrupt competitive integrity.”

“Consequently, I am pleased that Vitality have accepted the sanction with grace and I hope this serves to remind all organisations to be particularly vigilant while matches are being played in their home environments.”

Vitality’s chief executive, Nicolas Maurer, added: “A television was spotted displaying the livestream of our game in the background of our team while they were playing. This television is placed in a lounge and used by visitors to watch games. Even though this is not coming from a malicious intention, we agree that this placement is controversial.

“This was a big mistake on our side and we accept the fine. As soon as the issue was pointed out to us, we gave officials all the tools to look further into the incident. We agree that competitive integrity cannot be taken lightly and apologise for this towards all the CS:GO fans. We will make sure to be extremely careful in the future on this matter.”

ESIC last week issued bans to 35 professional players for betting offences in violation of its code of conduct, with sanctions lasting between 12 and 60 months.

Over 30 professional coaches were banned from competitive esports in September after they were found to have exploited an in-game bug in CS:GO to gain an advantage.

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