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2014-11-08-AR5A8868

StarCraft 2014 World Champion in Police Custody in South Korea for Alleged Ties to Match-Fixing

February 1, 2016 John Paolo "Sandata" Bago

According to the Changwon District Prosecutor’s Office, the 2014 StarCraft 2 World Champion Lee “Life” Seung Hyun was arrested last week and is under investigation for alleged association with match-fixing.

In the report given out by the prosecutor’s office, Life has been implicated in a series of match-fixed games. The office of the prosecutor could not give out further details as investigations are still being conducted. The prosecutor did however confirm that the allegations against Life are tied to the match-fixing scandal that took place last year.

The 19-year old South Korean professional player is one of the youngest professional StarCraft players, having signed with eSports team ZeNEX 2011 at 14-years old and winning his first major title at the age of 15.

Life is considered one of the top Zerg players in the world. His list of achievements include a win at the 2014 World Championship Series (WCS), 1st place at both 2015 GSL Season 1 and IEM Taipei and 2nd place at the 2015 WCS tournament.

Match-fixing of 2015

On October of 2015, the Korean cybercrimes bureau of the South Korean Police Department, together with the public prosecutor’s office, arrested several players and coaches from various StarCraft 2 teams due to their connection to match-fixed games in professional tournaments.

In total, nine individuals were arrested under allegations of match fixing. Prosecutors in the case alleged that five games were fixed across the many professsional circuit leagues for StarCraft 2 in South Korea. Former pro player Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun reportedly received payments ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to participate in the fixing.

The Korean eSports Association (KeSPA) reiterated their zero-tolerance policy towards illegal actions such as match-fixing and point-shaving in a statement given last Friday. The Korean eSports governing body said that they will fully cooperate with the investigation.

Match-fixing, or the illegal pre-determination of competitive game results (usually with payoffs from gamblers), is a serious problem for South Korea’s progaming scene. Penalties are harsh, with both KeSPA and the South Korean government going after gamblers. Professional gaming licenses face revocation, meaning a loss of livelihood for eSports professionals, should their ties to match-fixing be proven after extensive investigation.