ESIC forwards evidence to Valve related to potential betting fraud in Project X, Akuma matches
The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) have received evidence that Oleksandr Shyshko, the CEO of Project X, has an active CS:GO betting account and has placed "numerous bets on highly suspicious Project X matches". The betting took place at a time when most of the current Akuma roster was playing under the Project X organization, which disbanded and ceased operations in March.
ESIC adds that Shyshko also made an accurate pre-match bet on the outcome of Virtus.pro - Akuma in EPIC League CIS 2021, a game at the center of cheating allegations aimed at the team led by Sergey "Sergiz" Atamanchuk. ESIC has forwarded the evidence received to Valve, and recommends ESIC-member Tournament Organizers to not include Akuma, a team made up of more than three current Akuma members, or any team associated with Oleksandr Shyshko in their competitions until an investigation is concluded.
The evidence was acquired through the Suspicious Betting Alert Network (SBAN), with ESIC determining that there was a "reasonable basis to believe that potential match-fixing and/or betting fraud behaviour was perpetrated". As the tournaments in which the actions happened are not ESIC members, ESIC referred the matter to Valve for consideration.
"While ESIC has not undertaken a full investigation into the detail, extent, and validity of any particular instances of match-fixing behaviour and the perpetrators of such behaviour – information on hand would indicate that this is a matter worth investigating further," the commissioner of ESIC, Ian Smith, explained in a statement.
"If ESIC did have jurisdiction, we would have opened a full investigation based on what we already know. ESIC has therefore referred the evidence available to us to Valve for further consideration," Smith adds.
In the announcement, ESIC clarifies that it has "not sanctioned, nor does it currently plan to sanction any individual associated with its referral," as they do not have the authority to conduct a full investigation. Unless otherwise instructed by Valve, their actions will be limited to "the referral of evidence, recommendations to members, and this statement".
Akuma, an orgless, all-Ukrainian squad featuring AWPer Dmitriy "SENSEi" Shvorak, came into the spotlight in May. At the first CIS Regional Major Ranking (RMR) event of 2021, as the 12th highest seed at the tournament, Akuma made it to the playoffs and secured 2-0 victories over Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro, placing third overall. Shortly after, clips from the tournament broadcast started to surface, pointing out suspicious eye movement and suggesting that players are gaining info from a second device.
Notable CIS players and community members, including Natus Vincere coach Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy, soon made their accusations public, after which fourteen of the sixteen teams that participated in EPIC League CIS released an open letter calling on Valve to investigate Akuma. The group suspects that the team "received live [match] data from third parties on external devices" in order to gain an unfair advantage, putting the competitive integrity and the results at the Major-qualifying event under question.
While another investigation involving Akuma adds more fuel to the public outrage against the Ukrainian team, ESIC's findings have not verified the suspicions regarding them having access to live match data in the games played in the CIS RMR tournament.