Updates on 'The Purge': How the coaching bug has rocked the CS:GO world*
If you've found yourself lost in all the drama surrounding the coaching bug, here is everything you need to know about the glitch that has swept the scene from its feet in September.
This article will be updated as the investigation progresses and new information comes to light.
Update September 24: ESIC has announced that the first set of findings from its investigation will be presented on Monday, September 28, at 10:00 .
Update September 11 #2: Thursday's report from DBLTAP says at least 15 more coaches who are yet to be named have been found to have abused the bug.
Update September 11: ENCE have suspended Slaava "Twista" Räsänen after the 33-year-old notified the Finnish organization of a coaching bug incident dating back to 2017. The investigation is expected to take two to three weeks.
Update September 9 #2: Valve has announced that teams disqualified from Regional Major Ranking events as a result of coaching bug use will have their RMR points reset. This concerns Hard Legion and MIBR, who were disqualified from ESL One: Road to Rio - CIS and Road to Rio - North America and cs_summit 6 - North America, respectively.
Update September 9: Singularity's coach, Peter "casle" Sørensen, confessed to encountering and then exploiting the bug in maquinas' December 2019 match against North in the WESG 2019 North Europe qualifier. He has stated that he notified ESIC within the official confession period.
Coaches across all tiers of competitive play are being put under the spotlight after a nasty glitch that had apparently been in the game for years came into public awareness. It allowed them to gain an overview of any chosen position on the map in real time and find out information about their opponents' movements and economic situation that they wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain fairly.
A large-scale investigation has been launched to find potential offenders and not everyone has come out of it clean — and it is still far from over. Some coaches have already received lengthy bans from various tournament organizers after being found to have used the bug to gain an unfair competitive advantage, some have been suspended by their organizations once they were accused of doing so, and others have come forward themselves to confess their guilt and face repercussions head-on.
The situation is getting difficult to keep track of as more information about this purge keeps piling up and more and more names are added to the naughty list on a daily basis, so let's take a look at what has happened so far and what those names are.
What does the bug do?
It essentially made it possible for a coach to gain an overview of any position on the map at the beginning of a match and rotate the camera as they pleased. Unless they fixed the issue by either reconnecting to the server or switching to one of their player's point of view, coaches could remain in that position for the entire map.
This was easily replicable for the majority of the time this bug was in the game. All coaches had to do in order to trigger it was fill the coaching slot before anyone joined the same team, and they were even able to pick which position they would get stuck in.
How did the investigation start?
It all started in August with the admirable work of veteran referee Michal Slowinski and ESEA's software development specialist Steve Dudenhoeffer, two individuals on a voluntary mission to clamp down on the illegal use of the coaching bug after being alerted by players and coaches in private. There are claims that the bug — or at least some sort of variation of it — started in 2016, but this has been impossible to verify.
Entirely unpaid at first, the duo spent twelve hours a day each for three weeks parsing through 1,500 match demos, and that effort produced several discoveries at the end of August.
Which coaches have been implicated?
On Monday, August 31, ESL and DreamHack announced that three coaches had been banned from their competitions for using the spectator bug for competitive advantage. Hard Legion's Aleksandr "zoneR" Bogatiryev received the harshest punishment, a two-year ban, after it was discovered that he had abused the bug on six maps across three matches in ESL One: Road to Rio - CIS. Heroic's Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen was banned for 12 months after using the bug in ten rounds of one map during DreamHack Masters Spring, while MIBR's Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia was banned for six months for a single-round use in Road to Rio - North America.
The bans were handed down following consultation with the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), which announced later that week that the suspensions also applied to other tournaments hosted by member organisations, including BLAST, WePlay, Eden Esports and UCC. At the same time, the esports watchdog called on non-members to honour the bans "for the purpose of protecting the CS:GO esports scene internationally".
Shortly afterward, Beyond the Summit handed a two-event ban to dead for a separate offense in a match during cs_summit 6.
That is where punishments from tournament organizers have stopped for the time being, but it is unlikely to stay that way, as more potential cases of the bug's abuse were brought to light by Slowinski on Twitter. Hard Legion were dealt another blow when zoneR, who has since been removed from the Russian organization, and assistant coach Erik "AKIMOV" Akimov were found exploiting the glitch in other tournaments as well. Another seemingly damning clip, this time of K23's Aset "Solaar" Sembiyev, saw the Kazakhstani coach suspended from his organization. Meanwhile, on top of the Road to Rio instance for which he got banned, HUNDEN admitted to using the bug in a second match in the Home Sweet Home Cup series for 13 rounds as he was suspended from Heroic.
In one of the most publicized instances, Nicholas "guerri" Nogueira came under fire after he was shown staying in a compromising position for an entire match in ECS Season 7 back in early 2019 after encountering the bug a few days earlier. The FURIA coach defended himself and explained his side in detail in a video containing the team's communication recordings from the match in question, claiming that he was alt-tabbed out of the game for the vast majority of the match and that he never passed any information on to his teammates.
ESIC went on to contract Slowinski and Dudenhoeffer to analyze a whopping 25,000 more demos dating back to 2016 and identify all instances of the use of the bug in an enormous investigation that the organization predicted would take eight months to complete. At the same time, it opened an official "confession period" lasting until September 13 and urged any offenders to come forward and admit their use of the bug by the end of that period.
Several public confessions followed on the same day. Faruk "pita" Pita was the first high-profile figure to disclose that he used the exploit as NiP's coach in an ESL Pro League match that took place in November 2018. Allan "Rejin" Petersen also came forward, listing four matches in 2017-2018 in which he knowingly utilized the glitch in his time with Tricked, and so did Gambit Youngsters' Ivan "F_1N" Kochugov after encountering and using the bug on one map earlier this year. Over in Brazil, RED Canids' Arthur "prd" Resende, DETONA's Henrique "rikz" Waku, and paiN's Bruno "ellllll" Ono admitted to experiencing the bug in official matches, with all three claiming that they didn't make use of information that they obtained unfairly to gain a competitive advantage.
What happens now?
With Michal Slowinski sharing on Twitter that "a lot of coaches" have come forward already behind closed doors, it appears more confessions are bound to come in the near future. On top of that, the investigation is far from over and some tournament organizers have yet to announce verdicts on the cases that have already been brought to light. With lots of footage still left to be reviewed, it remains to be seen just how serious this situation is and how deep it runs, especially after Slowinski revealed that two variations of the bug could still be around.
For the time being, the following coaches are either known to or alleged to have used the glitch in some capacity, with their statements linked if available. The list will be updated as new information comes in.
Aleksandr "zoneR" Bogatiryev (Hard Legion) - Banned from ESIC member events for 24 months for using the bug on six maps in Road to Rio, allegedly used it on five more maps in Home Sweet Home Cups. Released by Hard Legion (statement).
Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen (Heroic) - Banned from ESIC member events for 12 months for using the bug in ten rounds in DreamHack Masters Spring, admitted to exploiting it in 13 more rounds in Home Sweet Home Cup. Suspended by Heroic (statement).
Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia (MIBR) - Banned from ESIC member events for six months for using the bug in one round in Road to Rio, banned from the next two Beyond the Summit events for using the bug in a match in cs_summit 6. Suspended by MIBR (statement).