It had the potential to be one of the showcase CS:GO events of the season, but for many, Northern Arena 2016 was a less than smooth experience. Technical issues on the end of the tournament organiser and allegations of cheating overshadowed the event; the spotlight shining brightly on untimely rescheduling, behind-the-scenes controversies and subpar viewing experiences.
The group stage highlighted some glaring holes in the event production, with many of the issues fixed post-group stage – sadly however, the Grand Final had the attention of the community for all the wrong, non-technical, reasons. Given the layout of the arena, noise-cancelling headphones were imperative to maintain competitive integrity throughout the event.
Delayed 3 hours, can hear the casters some what, admins have no idea on what they’re doing
— Keith Markovic (@OpTic_NAF) 1 September 2016
On the last map of the best-of-three series between Cloud 9 and Immortals, Henrique “HEN1” Teles appeared to have been playing without his noise-cancelling headset. This sparked Cloud 9 to call a timeout and request an admin to assess and potentially remedy this unfortunate situation.
In the recorded footage above, an aggravated discussion breaks out between Cloud9’s Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert and Immortal’s Wilton “zews” Prado. HEN1 clearly breaks the tournament rules by not wearing his headset, but what’s worse perhaps, is that the tournament rules document does not outline any penalty or punishment for breaking such rules.
Rather, a catch all sort of clause was placed at the end of the document that essentially allowed the tournament admins to govern this situation as they saw fit. Ultimately, it was decided that the match would resume from round 3, where Cloud 9 would win a near full eco round to claw back into the half.
The argument from Cloud 9 was that the game should be restarted, as HEN1’s mistake delegitimised the map in its entirety at that point. Immortals fought back by arguing that HEN1 does not speak English well enough for the mistake to have affected the outcome of the game… but then again how hard is it to understand “A” or “B”? From the point of logic and fairness, Northern Arena could only prove that he was not wearing the headset during round 3 and as such that would be the round that got replayed. Immortals had the right to be involved in the discussion of remedy without a doubt, but to claim that HEN1 does not understand map callouts is both fabricated and irrelevant.
While there is much discussion as to whether justice was served in the situations resolution, the facts remain the same. HEN1 did break coveted convention across Counter-Strike’s competitive scene, regardless of the tournament. It is true that next time, Northern Arena would be smart to have someone with knowledge of both law and eSports, review their rules prior to this situation arising; yet in the spirit of competitive integrity, it is fair to say that the problem was handled correctly by the tournament admins and a just decision was made.