UPDATE: ESIC have lifted the provisional suspension and investigation into Reason Gaming, allowing them and Radix to compete in the upcoming finals. They have also dropped the investigation into CeX. Full update available here.
News breaking over Monday indicated that controversy was afoot. Owen “smooya” Butterfield kicked off with tweeting about Reason Gaming being banned from the ESL Premiership. This stemmed from an email sent by Ian Smith, Integrity Commissioner of ESIC, to the five players of Reason Gaming entitled “Notice of Charge, Plea Bargain and Provisional Suspension – Match manipulation ESL Premiership – Team Reason“.
In this email, Smith stated that “as the Integrity Commissioner, jurisdiction over the allegation that you and your team deliberately underperformed in breach of the Code in your match in week 6/7 vs Radix in order to ensure a next round match up vs Radix (who you considered a weaker option) as opposed to Method or Fish123.” This would appear to be in contravention of the ESIC Anti-Corruption Code articles 2.1.1, 2.1.4, 2.4.4 and 2.4.5, as well as contravening ESIC Code of Conduct articles 2.2.8 and 2.4.5. Everyone competing in the ESL Premiership would’ve been expected to read and sign up to both of these documents before they were allowed to compete.
The investigation comes out of a complaint made to ESL UK, which was passed up the ‘integrity foodchain’ to ESIC, who are currently ruling on it. The main piece of evidence appears to be a 40-second clip of a twitch stream (originally referred to as a “chat log” in the email), where Scott “kARMApangya” Campbell, Thomas “Thomas” Utting and Butterfield are discussing the upcoming match and a stand-in for Bradley “Hoodlum” Ratcliff. A copy of this VOD, acquired by YouTube user “EvilToast” lists the apparently incriminating conversation. The remaining evidence, according to sources, is down to the lower standard of performance in that match compared the rest of the season and the commentary during the match. There is no indication of any form of gambling being involved in this case.
.@ESIC_Official have sent us a statement regarding @ReasonGaming's suspension https://t.co/rVdUErXIki pic.twitter.com/I6lgHJSiRg
— Esports News UK (@Esports_News_UK) September 12, 2017
Considering the title of the email sent to the players, the statement given to our friends over at ESNUK (in above tweet) by Ian Smith would appear to be incorrect. Reason Gaming have in fact been given a “Notice of Charge” regarding match manipulation. CeX (the team Radix played in week 6) on the other hand are apparently also under investigation from ESIC due to their loss, a fact confirmed on twitter by Travis “L1NK” Mendoza. Assumedly the evidence against CeX is the same, minus the stream mentioning substitutes.
Usually such action comes with an investigation before any kind of suspension occurs. As the ESL Premiership finals are at EGX on the 23rd-24th September, it’d appear ESIC felt it poignant to act quickly on evidence they’d feel like was strong enough to prove a case on. The offer from Ian Smith was simple, accept a ban from all ESIC-affiliated competitions until May 2018 or face a long and potentially expensive tribunal to prove their innocence. No formal notices of an investigation being started were sent to the Reason players before the notice that they had been suspended from competition. For now, Reason Gaming have had their results from the past ESL Prem season expunged, meaning the table has been re-jigged.
At the end of this all, feel sorry for the players on Radix, who are 100% not at fault in any of these accusations, after Reason’s record was expunged the team fell out of the play-off spots meaning they’ll no longer be at EGX this weekend. The final play-off teams for the ESL Premiership will be CeX, Endpoint, Method and fish123.
Never mind. https://t.co/EWxqsZc08w
— Radix Esports (@RadixEsports) September 11, 2017
When contacted, ESL UK stated they had no official comment. Ian Smith from ESIC stated he “wont be commenting any further than what we’ve already said until the investigation is complete” before later clarifying that the email sent to the Reason players was “Not a notice of charge – was notifying them that a notice of charge may result from the investigation”.
Email sent to Reason players • Email to another team under investigation • ESL Premiership results expunged
Declaration: Adam “Blanks” Heath is the majority shareholder and MD of RNR-eSports, which is the owner of UKCSGO.com. Heath is also the manager and owns a share of Reason Gaming. Michael Moriarty, author of this piece, is a former volunteer for Reason Gaming. All the information received has not been sourced from this connection.