When four of the former iBuyPower Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad were permanently banned from Valve sponsored events, for their involvement in a match fixing scandal during a CEVO tournament a little over two years ago, it split the community through its core with an evident divide in opinion.
The predominant line of argument in the debate revolved around whether or not their life bans were justified. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and on reflection Valve’s punishment for the players involved could almost certainly have been handled better, tournaments such as the ESL Pro League have shown exactly how this could have been achieved.
To their credit, two of the banned players, Sam “DaZed” Marine and Joshua “Steel” Nissan have managed to stay relevant in the community through their presence on Twitch, playing FPL and ESEA Rank S with many of North America’s top players. The pair continue to provide the community with various tips and tricks on how to improve at the game; be it YouTube videos or demo reviews. As reward for their undeterred dedication to the game, the pair have found a new vocation: casting/analysis at LAN tournaments.
DaZeD first appeared on a live broadcast of the ESL Pro League back in September and has since become a regular part of their desk talent. Additionally, both he and Steel appeared on the desk at the iBuyPower Masters tournament in November (showing at the very least that the iBP organisation holds no grudges). It is also likely that the pair will be invited to further tournaments in 2017, and with the ELeague Major approaching at the end of this month, the question for many is whether the two players be allowed to appear on the broadcast?
The short answer is almost definitely; no. Valve stated that the players are not allowed to participate in any capacity in the majors and minors. Though they have clarified and maintained that they have no intention on preventing the ex-iBP players from participating in non-Valve sponsored events, opting instead to enforce the ban specifically to the majors and minors. Nonetheless tournament organisers wanted nothing to do with the players in the fear of losing favour with Valve and the potential threat of not being able to host future majors.
Accepting the reality that Valve will never allow the iBuyPower roster to compete on stage again, tournament organisers such as ESL are providing the opportunity for a compromise. If ESL can break the mould for the Pro League and recruit the outlawed talents, their actions have the potential to open the door to other tournament organisers to add DaZeD and Steel to their desk with confidence.
The overwhelmingly positive response that their tournament presence has already generated seemingly makes the compromise a natural solution, but unfortunately any further opportunities for the pair do not appear to forthcoming.