Disclaimer: During this opinion article we'll be discussing legal remedies and ramifications sought out; I'm no lawyer but I google really well.
In Today's CS news, Joey "fxy0" Shlosser, in collaboration with the eSports Integrity Coalition and Sportradar, released a video in a continued campaign to push for his unban, and an unban of those affected in a similar punishment.
It's brought up a discussion that has been debated frequently after an incident occured in the eSports scene involving external (League sanctioned) punishments, specifically in the CS:GO community. Today we'll be breaking down some statements, ideals, and actions that will warrant a very narrative-driven discussion. Something that is indicative of something new, dynamic and not retrogressive in nature.
In addition to the videos released, Anna Baumann, Fxy0's lawyer chimed in during a Reddit discussion on the CS:GO forum. Her statement above showcased her argument and her interpretation of the law, signifying that she was going to continue pressing this to Valve and may use legal action to seek out legal remedies if not unbanned within a reasonable time.
I'm no lawyer, but these things seem like a stretch. As she stated herself "help us help you", she's trying to make fxy0 a poster boy for the dozens of banned players. This brings up a larger point, something a majority of the sides agree on. There is precedent but there isn't officiating rules or published punishments for offenders.
Truly the wild wild west of punishments. What this does is involve a growing coalition (ESIC), lawyer(s), and publishers. An attempt at using any leverage legally, socially or professionally. In her defense, law does trump and override.
Right now eSports is going through a reformative phase. Teams and organizations are picking sides, joining alliances, and ethics groups are starting unions, coalitions and regulatory groups. All trying to one-up the next, trying to become the next big thing. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with that -- this is eSports -- competition is in our blood.
If groups want to push reform and push for regulations before lawmakers do then we should all remain optimistic and unify under this cause. In my eyes as a professional and a eSports fan, ESIC wants to be the next big thing when it comes up to universal ruling, maybe even setting up committees or an appeals board. It fits their M.O, and this is the perfect time.
We have a shifting dynamic, they've got partners on board who are tournament organizers and they have the perfect person who is desperate to get back in eSports.
Does it matter?
Once a match fixer and cheater, always a match fixer and cheater. In the world of eSports, people may forgive but never forget. Are the careers of fxyo, brax, steel, dazed already over even if they were given second chances? Brands and advertisers (sponsors) are so crucial to who they cater to, would they be okay with having a player who was banned for match fixing wearing their brand and representing their lifestyle?
I will bring up examples for other players like brax, steel, and dazed. After they were banned, they took time off. Afterwards they were all secretively hired by organizations like C9, CLG, and rumored LG. Either as a "streamer", analyst or coach. Now it's all speculation, but it definitely was extremely convenient for them to find jobs close to the performance aspect of the teams.
Valve eventually found out and reaffirmed that in an email to ESL, a statement can be found below. As they say, you don't get a second chance at first impressions.
Valve can be a infamously silent publisher, it's odd to see them reaffirm a statement unless there's indication that in fact banned players were involved in the team oriented duties such as playing, scrimming, coaching or analyzing with or for teams. My hunch is they'll stay banned, they simply continued to test Valve and now they will undoubtedly feel the full force of a publisher funded event.
Again speculation and rumors but Valve seems content with the rulings and will continue to fight their precedent because it'll open pandora's box otherwise. If x player gets unbanned, at one point or another others will have to, and that's not on their agenda anytime soon. For good reason, they aren't giving them a death blow. They aren't telling other smaller tournaments to let them play, they've got the right in every sense to disallow a player or team from playing in their funded events.
Tournaments & Their Choices
I'd like to emphasize this: Players are banned from valve-sponsored events, and only that. Tournaments outside of that realm are allowed to host them. Swag has gone to play for C9 in non valve sponsored tournaments, same with others and they've done well. Some have made careers in other titles or have become great personalities in Twitch as streamers.
Nothing is stopping them from playing in other tournaments.. unless they're not welcomed. This goes back to my first point, if they're not welcomed in smaller tournaments it's because the perception of them possibly throwing still lingers. It's ruined their competitive image and they are simply to blame, no one else and no one should pity them.
They have my sympathy, but not my regret. However I urge tournaments to allow these players in their tournament and I urge these players to continue playing in them. Actions speak louder than words, go out and find a team, gain some trust back and work as a professional again. If you truly can not find work, it's very unfortunate but that is simply the ramifications of your actions.
Things boil down to the tournament organizers. They should welcome them and give them the opportunity to sustain their income. They are paying the ultimate price, but it shouldn't be the end of their professional career, it should be the end of their dreams at playing in majors -- for now.
Until things regulate and formalize, which they will one day, they should continue to go out and try to make a living. Do not rely on lawyers and unions to try to get you out of your mess or you'll be stuck in an endless cycle.
Do they deserve their punishment(s)?
Yes, a simple yes. They broke the biggest infraction in any competitive sport. They deserve bans, whether it may be lifetime or 3-4 years. We aren't an atypical sport, we don't have rules and regulations like others and until we do, they should come at discretionary and case-by-case.
In a perfect world precedents would be outlined, but in reality we're stuck with some getting punished more severe or less than others but for match fixing it just shows you that it's a career ending blow, which is usual. Some made it out alive, others took the fall. They were sorry once it was said and done but imagine a circumstance where their deeds went unnoticed and other matches were fixed.. What then?
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