ESIC hand notices of charge to peacemaker, hally, zakk*
The governing body has revealed the first three names who will receive bans for involvement with the use of one of the three variants of the coaching bug.
- Final sanctions are not yet public
- Based on previous cases, zakk and hally are facing up to 5 months
- peacemaker potentially facing up to a 2-year ban
Update 19:10 : PGL have confirmed that Valve has made the decision to ban the three coaches from the Antwerp Major.
The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has issued three notices of charge, to current Imperial coach Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu, Spirit coach Sergey "hally" Shavaev, and 9z coach Rafael "zakk" Fernandes, based on findings which link the three coaches with the use of the infamous spectator bug dating back to 2018-2020.
The trio have been provisionally suspended from ESIC member events and they have been notified of an intended sanction, the length or seriousness of which is yet to be made public and which is also still subject to a final decision by ESIC.
The watchdog has stressed that PGL and Valve are not members of ESIC, and as such, ESIC did not have jurisdiction to make a decision relating to the coaches' participation at PGL Major Antwerp.
Valve and PGL have yet to comment on the situation, but it is clear that the three coaches have been barred from participating at the Belgian event with their teams as well, with Spirit and 9z having confirmed as much earlier on Friday in statements about the situation.
According to ESIC, hally and zakk were found to have encountered the static spectator bug (the same version that saw 37 coaches banned in September 2020) for one round in the Russian's case (representing Espada) and one and a half rounds across two matches in the Brazilian's case (representing 9z and Luminosity).
ESIC has stated that it will use the same sanction matrix that it used back in September 2020 when dealing with cases involving the static bug. According to that and similar cases from the previous ban wave, hally and zakk would be subject to up to a 5-month ban, without taking into account potential concessions.
peacemaker was found to have used the free-roam version during one round of a 2018 match between Heroic and Imperial. This variant of the bug was deemed as the most serious by ESIC and warranting the use of a sanction equal to cheating, which is up to 24 months.
In explaining its stance, the governing body has stated that the outcome of gaining an unfair advantage did not play a factor in the decision, meaning that it did not matter whether the team in question actually used the information gained while the coach was in the bug. The potential for exploitation and the fact that the people involved "did not act in an appropriate manner" when they experienced the bug was enough to warrant sanctions.
Many more notices of charge are expected to come soon, as a combined 134 people have been identified as "participants" in the three variants of the coaching bug (including the 37 previously banned). These three coaches were likely singled out due to the upcoming PGL Major Antwerp, in which they were meant to participate.