ESL has announced that they will now allow VAC-banned players to compete in ESL tournaments as well as Pro League after two years of serving said bans. With just cause, the community at large is outraged that one of the biggest tournament organizers known to CS:GO will now be allowing former cheaters the opportunity to compete in their top tier competitions.
ESL and IEM tournaments will now only bar VAC banned players, if those players have had their bans given to them within the past two years of the event. Any ban that stems for before that period will no longer be recognised, allowing former VAC banned players to compete at ESL and IEM events. Valve sponsored Major and Minor events are naturally exempt from the ruling:
“CSGO VAC bans are specifically honored, but only until 2 years after they have been issued.”
ESL Official Announcement
While the notoriously VAC-banned French player Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian has already stated that making a comeback is virtually out of the realm of possibility, many in the community are evidently having their gripes with this decision.
Apparently its okay to cheat for years at LAN tournaments(only 2 years ban) but 1 matchfixing match is life time ban. Welcome back cheaters
— FaZe karrigan (@karriganCSGO) 23 March 2017
Naturally when the word “ban” is mentioned in any sense, the vigilante heroes of the iBuyPower match fixing scandal are pushed to the forefront of the debate. The facts surrounding the case have been made clear and the cries of the community have been heard and ignored by Valve, but it seems that many pro players are having trouble understanding what ESL is thinking in allowing convicted cheaters to return, whilst holding hostage the members of ex-iBuyPower that the community believes have beyond paid the price for their past crimes.
I would rather see 50 match fixers unbanned before I see 1 cheater unbanned.
— Will (OpTic) (@RUSH) March 23, 2017
If I started cheating right now I could earn enough money to pay for my tuition, get banned, finish school, then come back and compete. ?
— Timothy Ta (C9) (@autimaticTV) March 24, 2017
But with all the uproar and agony being flown about, one must consider that this move by ESL isn’t all bad news. The likelihood of any convicted cheater joining a top-tier Pro League team – whilst now possible – is still extremely unlikely.
Most Pro League spots are held by organizations with brand images to uphold, and should they ever wish to be the best of the best, they will not be able to do so with players that are still banned from attending the biggest events of the year – the Valve sponsored Majors. This is highlighted in KQLY’s interview with HLTV:
“It is really nice to see some organisations think differently and try to give people like us a second chance,
“I do not think it will change anything, though. Even if I am allowed to play in these tournaments, it will be very hard to find people willing to trust you or an organisation wishing to take you in.
“There is like a 0.1% chance of that happening.
“But of course that, if there was someone out there willing to give me a second chance, I would take it without a moment’s thought.”
Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian
Whilst the new ruling is proving to be overwhelmingly unpopular, this move can be viewed as ESL – one of, if not the biggest tournament organizer in CS:GO – reminding Valve that they no longer hold all the cards. Valve has been typically silent on many issues throughout the history of CS:GO as an eSport, though they do realize that the competitive side of their game is the backbone that holds it together and provides its sustainability.
ESL taking this step is a bold move, but hopefully one that other tournament organizers will emulate moving forward; making their own decisions as separate entities from the mutes at Valve. Whilst tournament organizers taking initiative should be encourage, hopefully in the future these moves will be ones that won’t leave the community tearing their hair out.