Filthy scandals are usually commonplace in celebrity gossip and politics, but perhaps less expected in the world of eSports and video gaming. As such, many fans were, and still are, surprised to discover some of their favourite content producers were caught up in some downright shady gambling practices. The light shed on these scandals has lead to several class-action lawsuits, as well as Valve breaking their silence and finally taking action.
eSports historians may well record these damaging moments to the Counter-Strike scene as collateral damage from the debris falling from the crumbling empire that is skin gambling – these concerns are certainly warranted.
Having a vested monetary interest in the gameplay or stream that you are watching certainly can certainly serve to make the viewing experience more exciting – there’s no doubt that the chance of winning big brings out hordes of viewers. Widely known gambling streamer Phantonl0rd, the latest to be exposed for behind the scenes wrongdoings, would host thousands of viewers at a time on his twitch channel.
Though some analysts predict a decrease in viewership as a result of the sluggish striking down of the eSports gambling giants, I believe that this may be an exaggeration in many cases.
While it is true to say that without gambling, some viewers may have no reason to watch, I believe that many who gamble on games will continue to watch, standing by the game we’ve all fallen in love with on its rise to the top of the FPS eSports food chain.
Viewership is by no means a clear cut method of differentiating between gamblers and fans, as it’s likely a sizeable number of viewers fit both descriptions simultaneously; far more invested in the game than simple monetary gain. But perhaps I am placing too much faith in the monstrous crowd that gambling facilitated…
I guess if valve actually gets these sites to close, we shall see how CS holds up with just normal fans soon enough.
— Scott Smith (@SirScoots) July 20, 2016
My real concerns do not relate to Phantomlord asking for percentages on his own gambling site, nor the good gentlemen at Faze Clan pretending they have nothing to do with CSGO Wild. They are mere drops in the ocean compared to the tsunami of potential damage that could sweep over the games’ viewership.
The real concern is the negative attention the scandal has brought to the scene, detracting from the beauty of the game and the engaging narratives that surround its competing players. Gambling was a part of Counter-Strike, but it does not define it. Journalistic outlets need to keep in mind that as always, the show must go on.
Scandals are a black mark on whichever culture spawns them and the individuals tied to them should suffer appropriate punishment, regardless of their profiles or stakes in the community. There has been a sense of inevitability that eSports was due a story of this nature, especially considering the lack of regulation in such an absurdly profitable market. We’ve all learnt from the experience, let’s just hope that the gambling story doesn’t drag on and continue to detract attention from the game itself.