I’m not exactly happy that doping and organized crime are mounting problems for eSports, but it is sort of amusing, speaking as it does to the human ability to develop, nurture and ruin almost anything.
Some gambling books accept wagers on professional wrestling, for chrissakes, in which predetermined finishes are known to a certain amount of employees and their friends and families, so why shouldn’t an actual contest like video games attract “legitimate businessmen” looking for someone to take a dive? And if classical musicians down beta blockers to still nerves, of course eSports competitors use PEDs to fight stronger and longer.
From Matt Kamen at Wired:
ESIC was announced at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, and introduced by Ian Smith, the body’s first integrity commissioner. A UK lawyer, Smith’s background has largely been in traditional sports such as football and cricket, and he sat on the Athletes Committee of UK Anti-Doping for five years.
Smith says there are four key areas that ESIC wants to tackle. Three – cheating using software hacks such as aimbots; DDoS attacks to slow down opponents’ ability to react in matches; and doping – he describes as “easy” to deal with in the longer term. The fourth, match fixing, presents a much bigger – and growing – problem.
“We’ve had very prominent arrests in Korea in Starcraft II, and there have been a number of other cases and allegations […] around fixing,” Smith says. “We’ve found that that’s actually pretty low-level fixing, but the main issue is the growth of the esports betting market. Looking at 2015, the legitimate esports betting market was at around the $250m mark. That probably means the illegitimate market […] was running at around two to three billion dollars.”
While acknowledging that those figures are currently “peanuts” in betting terms, Smith adds that projections put the legitimate market at $23bn by 2020 – and the illegitimate market, if current trends continue, at $200-300bn.
“That’s the point at which organised crime knows that there’s a decent return on any corrupt investment they make in the sport,” Smith says.•