StarCraft II Pro Gamer, Coach and 9 Others Indicted For Illegal Betting, Match-Fixing
Korean authorities from the police department’s cyber bureau and public prosecutor’s office have arrested one coach and one StarCraft 2 professional player for allegations of match-fixing, adding another chapter to the sordid history of illegal gambling in the Korean eSports scene.
After a disciplinary hearing held by the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA), Director Cho Man Soo confirmed that Prime Head Coach Park “Gerrard” Oi Sik and Prime Pro Player Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun have been banned for life from KeSPA and are currently in the hands of the Korean Prosecutor’s Office.
According to Director Cho, both Gerrard and YoDa were arrested last September of this year by public prosecutors on charges of illegal betting and match-fixing. Sources from Korea say that while only Gerrard and YoDa were incarcerated by local authorities, at least nine other people in the professional gaming scene in Korea are involved and are currently being investigated by the Korean Cyber Bureau and KeSPA.
Director Cho said that the case is still under investigation by the Korean Prosecutor’s Office. As such, more details surrounding the case will be released at a later time.
With the ban, both Gerrard and YoDa along with the nine yet-unnamed people, will have their progaming licenses revoked. They will be unable to participate in any eSports related enterprise in a professional capacity in Korea, which includes competing in KeSPA tournaments, organizing a team or receive endorsement abroad from the Korean eSports governing body.
In a prepared statement by KeSPA, Director Cho said that the organization will fully coordinate with local authorities in the course of their investigations. Gerrard, YoDa and any other persons found involved in illicit activities related to match-fixing and illegal betting will be banned from the organization regardless of results of a public trial.
A Known Problem
In the same statement, KeSPA reiterated their commitment to cleaning up the Korean eSports scene.
In May of 2010, KeSPA banned eleven known Starcraft professional players for allegations of match-fixing and illegal betting. The KeSPA report revealed that the professional gamers were approached by illegal gambling websites that wagered on their games, and were paid to purposefully lose games for a share of the profits.
In March of 2014, Korean League of Legends player Ahq Korea Cheon “Promise” Min-ki jumped off the twelfth story of an apartment building in Korea after releasing a statement on a Korean message board detailing how he discovered that his current professional team, Ahq, was involved in match-fixing.
In his letter, he named Ahq Korea’s manager, Noh Dae-Chul, as the mastermind behind illegal activities. Promise found that Noh Dae-Chul pressured his team members to intentionally lose games in order to make money through illegal bets. Following the discovery, Promise disbanded his team.
While Promise would survive his suicide attempt, the fall caused permanent damage to his body. In the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal he exposed, KeSPA coordinated with Riot Games Korea and other entities in the Korean eSports industry to clean up the professional scene.
Axiom eSports StarCraft 2 manager Olivia Wong vented her frustrations about the diminishing integrity of the Korean professional scene, stating that the Korean professional gaming industry was, “being funded by illegal betters.”
I enjoy my job/SC2, but this gaming community is worse than CS:GO's match fixing. The Korean scene is being funded by illegal betters.
— Olivia (@olimoley) February 8, 2015
Since 2013, the association has been conducting regular anti-corruption education for all head coaches, coaches, and players competing in the country’s professional leagues.
KeSPA also revamped its membership rules to include a provision that could subject coaching staff and players to measures under criminal or civil law should they be found guilty of match-fixing.
Director Cho said that since 2014, the organization started a program reward those who reported or confessed to illicit activities. KeSPA, together with the Korean police department’s Cyber Bureau, the Korea Communications Standards Commission and the Korea Internet Self-governance Organization for a clean e-Sports environment signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) to run the program.
KeSPA is one of few national eSports organizations to have actual power over players and auxiliary staff involved in the growing eSports industry. Their stances on evolving issues surrounding the young scene of competitive video games serve as precedents across the globe.
While the investigation continues, all teams currently supervised by Gerrard, including team StarCraft 2 team Prime and League of Legends team SBENU will be placed under KeSPA’s stewardship.
Link to KeSPA's original statement here.
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