Last March 23, ESL introduced changes to their competitive rulebook that allows players who have been banned by the Valve Anti-Cheat system to compete in ESL’s top tier Counter Strike: Global Offensive competitions if it has been more than two years since the VAC ban. This rule was in effect in ESL’s lower leagues, and has now been applied to the higher tier competitions, such as IEM, ESL One, and ESL Pro League. However, not all cheaters are created equal, as this rule only extends to players who have been VAC banned for cheating in-game, and “players who have been banned for match-fixing do not fall under this rule, however, and will remain suspended indefinitely”; such as the iBuyPower squad who were banned in 2014 from participating in any pro games hosted by Valve or ESL due to fixing a match to receive a large amount of high value CS:GO skins.
Its unbelievable that swag, dazed & co are still banned and cheaters might come back to play once again. Unreal.
— Gabriel Toledo (@FalleNCS) March 23, 2017
Understandably, this change caused controversy within the CS:GO community, with many players expressing their displeasure over the rule on online forums such as reddit. Most complaints expressed concern over the unfairness of the rule, saying that either both cheaters and matchfixers should be able to play again or that neither of them should. Some professional players didn’t take kindly to the rule change, with RUSH of OpTic Gaming tweeting, “I would rather see 50 match fixers unbanned before I see 1 cheater unbanned.” and Fallen of SK Gaming also tweeting, “Its unbelievable that swag, dazed & co are still banned and cheaters might come back to play once again. Unreal.”
@ESLCS I would rather see 50 match fixers unbanned before I see 1 cheater unbanned.
— Will (OpTic) (@RUSH) March 23, 2017
ESL released a clarification post on the rule change later that day, stating that the adoption of the two year rule was “meant to create consistency for all future bans across all platforms throughout CSGO.” ESL also stated that they originally created the rule “based on industry best practices in many professional sports,” and that their “policies are not set in stone and [they] will work with relevant parties on optimization.”