Ex-GODSENT player joel suspended by ESIC over match-fixing allegations*
The commission alleges that Joel "joel" Holmlund engaged in corrupt behaviour during BetBoom Playlist Urbanistic.
Update (15:23 ): ESIC have made several amendments to their original press release.
This includes removing the reference to joel playing "particularly poorly" in certain matches, although they still cite the part of their anti-corruption code that references match-fixing.
The other notable change is broadening the scope of the accusations, adding the IEM Dallas 2023 Europe Qualifier as another event joel is accused of engaging in corrupt behaviour during.
ESIC have released a statement detailing their provisional suspension of joel, in light of evidence relating to breaches of the organization’s anti-corruption code. The alleged breaches took place between March 27-May 1, and relate to the BetBoom Playlist Urbanistic event he played with GODSENT.
The press release details two infringements. First, joel allegedly placed bets on matches he was playing in between March 27-28, including against his own team in a match that they lost, where joel played "particularly poorly." Second, he placed 17 further bets on CS:GO matches between March 29-May 1.
The two aforementioned infringements violate two sections of the ESIC anti-corruption code, namely the sections on corruption and betting. The section on corruption specifically referenced "fixing or contriving in any way or otherwise influencing improperly [a match]," confirming joel is being accused of match-fixing.
"Joel's suspension from GODSENT followed us being informed of serious allegations relating to match-fixing and betting in between March 27 and May 1, on our own and other matches, coming from relevant parties in the industry," the statement read. "As soon as we retrieved the information we immediately suspended Joel from play. Then we have been closely collaborating with ESIC in helping them build a case and collecting evidence in collaboration with third parties."
Currently the suspension is provisional, as the Rejection Order Notice, the mechanism ESIC uses to effectively ban players from competition, has not been finalized. The duration of the ban has not been confirmed, and ESIC will make a further statement on or after October 6 to confirm the final outcome of their investigation. joel also has until this time to present further evidence.
In issuing this latest sanction, ESIC contacted joel on August 30 and he responded denying the charges. The evidence ESIC gathered included betting records, digital footprints like IP addresses, and links between betting accounts and social media platforms.
"Considering the gravity of the allegations, Mr. Holmlund’s current active participation in an ESIC-affiliated event, and being satisfied with the compelling evidence presented in its further investigation, ESIC has elected to suspend Mr. Holmlund via a Rejection Order Notice," the statement from ESIC said. "While the suspension stands, ESIC remains open to reevaluation should Mr. Holmlund present new evidence by October 6 2023."
joel himself has responded to the allegations via his Twitter account. He claims that he spoke with ESIC's commissioner Ian Smith on August 30, the day he received the notice of charge, and that he was told "no further actions would be taken at that point of time." He goes on to state his belief ESIC felt pressured to act by the public, that he is "willing to cooperate with ESIC," and that he will provide a response to the charges together with his lawyer.
joel’s history in competitive Counter-Strike dates back to 2020, however he played for his first notable team in 2022 when he represented Monte. He featured for the squad during their unsuccessful run during the IEM Road to Rio Europe RMR, leaving not long after.
The 18-year-old Swede signed for GODSENT at the start of this year alongside the likes of Nicolas "Plopski" Gonzalez Zamora and William "draken" Sundin, and was benched late in May, despite being the team’s highest-rated player.
This news marks the first ESIC release relating to any disciplinary matters since November 2022, when the organization lifted its ban on Nicolai Petersen that was imposed in 2021. The last time ESIC issued fresh disciplinary charges was in May 2022, when a handful of coaches including Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu were issued sanctions relating to the spectator bug.