Masterminding a Match-Fixing Scandal: Who is Michael Vallejos?
By: Esports Inquirer Staff
South East Asian (SEA) Dota 2 is in shambles. In the last week, many SEA region players and teams have fallen from favor with squads getting booted left and right from high-profile tournaments. The cause? A series of events revealing a match-fixing ring whose extent and reach are currently unknown.
Who is Michael Vallejos?
At the center of the controversy lies one figure: Michael Vallejos. Vallejos has been identified by multiple sources close to the story as the chief architect in the string of match tampering and illegal bets made across different professional tournament matches in the region.
The Recap: A Game of No Consequence
On Oct. 16, 2014, screenshots surfaced on popular content sharing site Reddit.com in the sub-reddit r/Dota2Loungebets implicating that players from two Philippine Dota 2 squads — Mineski and MSI.EvoGT — were involved in a match-fixing incident.
The match in question was a StarLadder 10 game between MSI-EvoGT and Mineski. Although the game ultimately had no bearing to the tournament overall, screenshot evidences implicated that team members from both squads were approached by two people, with offers to intentionally rig the outcome of the game in exchange for money — some P40,000 all told.
The pair have been identified as Jonathan Radores and Michael Vallejos. Radores was a former professional Dota player linked with the Mineski Pro-gaming team while Vallejos is the owner of a Facebook betting page called “MyDota2Community.”
Within hours, management from both MSI and Mineski issued statements to the effect that they will investigate the serious allegations levied on their players.
Before investigations could conclude, more screenshots released from anonymous Facebook accounts were again leaked through Reddit. This time, the pictures showed chat logs between Radores and Vallejos discussing that the two were influencing outcomes of professional matches with other known SEA region teams — not only those of Filipino players.
A video of a purported “hacker” soon followed. In the video, the hacker demonstrated how he had access to Radores’ personal Facebook account where the chat logs between him and Vallejos were taken.
Within hours, three players from Mineski and the entire MSI.EvoGT gaming squad confessed that they were in fact approached by Radores and Vallejos and that they agreed to illegally influence the outcome of the match. Since then, the players were released from their respective teams, with MSI picking up a completely new five-person roster to carry its banner.
On Oct. 18, 2014, popular Dota 2 betting site Dota2Lounge (D2L) released the results of their investigations. As the players involved in the MSI vs. Mineski match have confessed to their crime, the community was shocked when Arrow Gaming — The International 4 (TI 4) SEA region champions — was implicated in the match-fixing scandal.
Arrow Gaming is the most recent squad from South East Asia to be implicated in the string of match-fixing scandals to plague the region. Following D2L’s investigation, more evidence surfaced on Reddit implicating the Malaysian team.
According to D2L’s findings, Fua Hsien “Lance” Wan and Kok Yi “ddz” Liong’s girlfriends’ accounts have shown suspicious betting against Arrow in their games in Synergy League. Michael Vallejos, one of the alleged masterminds in the string of illegal match tampering, also made similar bets in the same games.
Arrow Gaming has since released both Lance and DDZ from their contracts after an extensive interrogation of the two. Both players have admitted to their fault, stating that they were underpaid while living and training in an expensive city as their primary reasons on why they decided to involve themselves with Vallejos.
Although the evidence remains inconclusive, Beyond The Summit’s owners, both David “LD” Gorman and David “GoDz” Parker have removed Arrow Gaming from the SEA qualifiers for The Summit 2 Tournament.
Oleg Skobelev from Synergy League has since issued a statement on his personal Twitter account, saying that both Lance and DDZ have been suspended from Synergy League forever.
Characterizing the Man
Last Saturday evening, Unicka Rivera (not her real name) was interviewed by Esports Inquirer staffer Earl “Rave28” Guevarra.
As the administrator of a local Facebook-based Pinoy Dota Store and one of the first whistleblowers of the recent match-fixing scandal involving players from Mineski, MSI and Arrow Gaming, we asked Ms. Rivera about her thoughts on the recent extension of the match-fixing scandal that now involves foreign teams.
R28: How did you meet Michael Vallejos?
UR: I met Michael Vallejos when he suddenly sent me a private message promoting his group, which at the time wasn’t yet well-known. He earned his break during the International back in 2013. Then he was with us in the Pinoy Dota Studio in Quezon City. He was really eager to join our group. At the time, I did not know much about trading; in fact, I knew nothing about it. He said a lot of things about the trading scene so we thought that we should get him on board.
He only spent a week with us; he wanted to keep 75% of the earnings to himself, however at the time we did not have a choice so we agreed to the deal.
R28: So why did you start fighting with each other?
UR: I could not remember the exact details, but there was a deal where we were supposed to pay an amount of money to Wootz, Julz and Chikimua from Happyfeet, among others. Vallejos told us not to reduce the percentage that he has earned and he further mentioned that he will take care of it all by himself.
In short, we were duped. He left our group shortly after that and started to appropriate the plans we developed in our group that he heard while he was with us. He started to create his own fan page and group as well; those were the pages that were massively reported to Facebook shortly after this issue has broken out in the open because he has threatened that he will exact revenge on those who did “things” to him.
R28: Now that evidence has surfaced that Arrow Gaming has also been implicated in the match-fixing scandal, what can you say about it?
UR: Yeah, I read it when a friend sent the link to me quite recently. It is shocking, considering that I know the manager of Arrow Gaming. I can’t believe that (Vallejos) also dragged foreign players into this mess.
To be honest, it is a bit disappointing because there has been no final decision on Michael’s case.
R28: I know it’s a bit anti-climactic, but here’s the last question: Do you think that Vallejos is guilty?
UR: Of course, it can be seen clearly in the video as well as the evidence that has been collated so far; besides, we (in the Dota Pinoy Store) know how Vallejos speaks and talks and we know how he uses the top players in order to advance his interests.
R28: So is it implied that these things have been happening for a while?
UR: I’m not sure about it. What I know is that we heard him on how to use professional players in order to further his own goals. He wanted to just treat them out for dinner in malls.
My point is that he is very good in planning and executing these things.
More sources have since come forward to Esports Inquirer, characterizing Vallejos as a known figurehead among the trading and professional player communities in Manila.
According to our source who refuses to be named, Vallejos has been traditionally close to the first wave of players coming from Dota 1.
“Vallejos is popular among high-profile bettors and players because he gives out valuable items to promote his group,” shared our source. “He has offered high value items to almost all the top players in the Metro Manila area to get his name out.”
“Because of this, some of the more skilled players have clung on to him because of the money he provides,” our source added.
Esports Inquirer decided to contact Vallejos’ family members to ask about his whereabouts. Vallejos allegedly flew to Thailand over the weekend. As of press time, both Vallejos’ mother and sister refused an interview.
Alleged mastermind: good guy turned bad?
“Nauto lang siguro.”
The alleged match-fixing mastermind, was only “duped” by others to do such things, according to a source who chose to be called by another name for security reasons.
“Lefthanded”, a friend of Michael Vallejos, says that the latter was only “duped” by others who were familiar with “throwing games” to match-fix games.
“In my opinion, this wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t used to doing this before,” said Lefthanded who was pertaining to Jonathan Radores, who is alleged of conspiring the match-fixing. “I mean, I don’t think they could have convinced Michael to sponsor anything if they weren’t used to throwing games for money before.”
On Oct. 13, screenshots of a conversation between Vallejos and Radores about match-fixing games between two Filipino teams and another match with a foreign team went viral. Eight Filipino players were involved in the said match-fixing, four of which were alleged to receive a payout from Vallejos and company amounting to a total of P40,000.
He also said that he has no knowledge about any scamming or trading issues that Vallejos has been involved with.
Lefthanded, who has been friends with Vallejos for almost a year, describes him as a guy that personally treats his friends and buys them virtual gaming items that they want or like.
“He’s a good person,” Lefthanded said. “He takes care of us in our group. He helped us get to level 20 on Steam (a gaming platform), gave us compendiums (a Dota 2 item) and sets (cosmetic items in Dota 2 game).”
He met Vallejos through Facebook over Dota 2 trading and their first personal encounter was a during a MyDota2Community group (the Dota 2 trading group that Vallejos created) meet-up.
“He treated everyone he met that day to a day out. We first met with other members of the group,” he said.
Lefthanded says that “walang-wala” or it is not in the nature of Vallejos to do such illegal acts, and that he was surprised with the turn of events.
“When the issue came out, a lot of us were confused because it became apparent that his nature changed. We aren’t angry at him; we are still here for him,” he said.
However, Lefthanded sees Vallejos as guilty with the match-fixing allegations.
“He chose to keep silent so I can only conclude that he is guilty.”
eSports Inquirer decided to approach members of the professional community — both players and tournament organizers — to weigh in on the larger issue at hand.
What really drives a player to be involved with a match-fixer? In this interview, we spoke with IAP.Execration’s team captain Kimuel “KimO” Borromeo Rodis for his insights on the #322 issue:
INQ: Do you know Vallejos personally?
Kimo: I spoke to him in person last year during a tournament. He was giving out free keys (a virtual item) to players.
INQ: Have you been approached by Vallejos personally about match fixing?
Kimo: Not personally, no. If he ever did, I would have turned him down immediately. He invited me to join his group, but I was already a member of Unicka’s group at that time, so I didn’t.
Honestly, I don’t have time for virtual items.
INQ: Do you have any idea on how Vallejos would tempt players for a match-fixing? Why do you think a pro player would involve themselves in match-fixing?
Kimo: I don’t know how he does it, but in my view it’s the players fault. They have every right to refuse involvement.
In my opinion, some players become lazy and impatient. Some people just aren’t content with what they have so they resort to shady schemes. If they really valued what they did and Dota 2, they wouldn’t have thrown it all away. Some players just became impatient or decided that money was more important.
INQ: What are your thoughts about Vallejos? The matchfixing issues?
Kimo: What Vallejos did was a crime so I hope justice can be brought upon him. As for the players, I think they should only be banned for a year. They deserve time to change their ways. Everyone should get a second chance.
In my view, I think betting sites should remove games of no consequence from their offerings. If you only retain the important matches, players would be less likely to throw them.
“It’s just about being content. Our allowance is not that much but everything else is being shouldered by our manager,” he shared.
Marlon “Lon” Marcelo, organizer for Mineski’s Progaming League shared that the appropriate recourse is being explored by the Mineski organization.
“On the advice of our legal team, appropriate action is being explored pending the results of our investigations,” he told eSports Inquirer. “This goes for both the players involved and the masterminds behind the match-fixing scandal.”
“The current match-fixing scandal is a big blow to the scene. Since we are just starting, this mess is a big setback. However, we are confident that we can bounce back from this incident and learn from it,” he added.
Lon said that both parties are at fault. The players’ lapse in judgement have to be appropriately punished while the people tempting them have to punished more severely.
“The players have to be vigilant and not be blinded by an easy way to get money. There are a lot of tournaments right now that will give them a chance to prove themselves and at the same time get them an insane amount of cash,” he said.
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