Biggest Scandals In Esport

The dark side of Esport: scandalous cases of cheaters, scammers, and criminals. We show you a ranking of the five biggest scandals from the professional gaming world.
Biggest Esport Scandals
From cheaters like Forsaken to people that got locled up. | © PGL / hltv.org

We love Esport. It doesn't matter whether we watch the FIFA eChampions League Final or if we're completely immersed in the MSI: Gaming on the big stages of the world is fascinating. Most of the time everything runs smoothly but logically, there are also some scoundrels and guys in Esport who belong behind bars – and not in front of a keyboard.

That's why we show you the biggest scandals from the world of pro gamers. Of course, it's about cheaters – but we also have the Fyre Festival of gamers for you. Here we go.

5. Hearthstone | 2014: Sexism Incident In Finland

Good will – stupid idea? In 2014, the internet had some questions when organizers restricted a Hearthstone tournament of the Finnish IeSF (International Esports Federation) qualifiers in Helsinki to men only. On their own website, they stated: Only Finnish male players are allowed to participate.

The International Esports Federation is a South Korea-based global organization whose primary mission is to raise the overall status of Esports, with the ultimate goal of having it recognized as a legitimate sport worldwide. So they just thought: let's do it like in traditional sports and separate women and men. After that there were some unfortunate statements like: No, you got all that wrong, we are doing this for women, or You also have to take into account the differences in the psychology of the sexes. Paraphrased here.

At the end of the day, Reddit, Facebook (yes 2014 people...) and "the interweb" really went mad. Nowadays, the whole "idea" behind it has been shelved and women are allowed – not quite traditionally – to simply play. Little steps folks.

4. CS:GO | 2018: Forsaken Cheats And Becomes A Meme

You may have heard of Forsaken before, and if you haven't, then it's about time. The professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player used an aimbot in an official tournament. Nikhil Kumawat from Clan OpTic India competed at the eXTREMESLAND tournament in Asia. Then, an anti-cheat program alerts the referees, he quickly tries to delete everything, but his computer is confiscated.

The really bad thing for him: The cameras caught his ridiculous attempt to quickly delete all the aimbot files. His team got disqualified, he was never seen again in an official CS:GO tournament, and we got loads of memes.

3. CS:GO | 2017: The BIG-Bug At The PGL Major

Another strange Counter Strike story. Here, the German team BIG did not cheat, but simply used an exploit to gain blatant advantages. With the so-called BIG-Jump, you can become invisible but still see opponents. Sounds amazing, doesn't it?

If players were both crouching (behind cover) while jumping, they could see over walls, but their enemies could not see them. The bug was known for a long time, but was never patched or officially banned. The other teams complained – but the exploit was legal.

The happy ending: All 16 teams at the PGL Major in Kraków came together and simply decided not to use this bug anymore. BIG then prevailed against the competition and won the tournament. Even without the exploit.

2. Starcraft II | 2016: Legend Life Got A Jail Sentence For Match Fixing & Throwing Games

Lee Seung Hyun, aka, Life, was considered one of the best Starcraft II players in the world – until he was banned for life and even behind bars. It's a story of quick bucks that sadly overshadows fame and glory.

Already in 2012 he started out of nowhere in Starcrafts pro scene and beat them all. Between 2012 and 2014, Life earned approximately $320,000 in prize money. Then in 2015 an entire ring of manipulation in Starcraft was revealed. The scandal didn't stop at big names, either. Life was on the list of people that fixed matches and lost games on purpose to cash out. But fraud is not a trivial offense in Korea either: Life had to go to prison for 18 months, so it is logical that he too was completely banned from his Esports for the rest of his life.

Life
Life before he's thrown it all away. | © liquipedia

1. LoL | 2019: Griffin Coach cvMax Verbally And Physically Abused His Players

The first place, or the worst scandal, is a sad story. In the LCK, South Korea's LoL professional league, Team Griffin did an outstanding job and, after being founded in 2016, developed from newcomers to a top team in a very short time.

Worlds 2019 was the biggest thing that happened for the organization — but not because of their performance. Shortly before the beginning of the LoL World Championship, coach Kim Dae-ho (cvMax) was fired. The general manager Cho Gyu-nam was also released shortly afterwards. What happened?

Griffin's players spoke out and made serious allegations against their coach and manager. While Gyu-nam is said to have repeatedly coerced his "protégés" into signing contracts they didn't agree with, Coach cvMax's behavior was even worse. The players said he severely injured them verbally and physically, the team even reported that their coach choked them. An official investigation ensued, cvMax was banned from ever again holding an official position with a team, and the entire organization was fined.

Team Griffin Ends Their Journey In 2021

Team Griffin's downfall came just as quickly as their rise. Last place in the LCK and relegation from the top league followed in the Spring Split 2020. On January 5, 2021, the organization posted its final tweet and officially disbands their LoL team.

Honorable Mention: Gaming Resort 2015 Was The OG Fyre Festival

Another scandal did not concern an official Esport tournament. But the organizers of Gaming Resort just did the original Fyre Festival – just for us nerds instead of Insta models. The story is told quickly: Luxury apartments with extremely cool PCs, tournaments in DOTA 2 and CS:GO and lots of fun were promised.

The result was a real nightmare for the pros who gathered in Slovenia back then. Shabby accommodations, non-working PCs and food poisoning. Then it turns out that the whole thing wasn't even paid for. The police came, passports were sacked and some of the professionals missed their follow-up appointment at the next tournaments. Of course, there was no promised prize money either. Pure madness.

Just like Fyre Festival.