Exclusive: Valve-ESIC agreement opens path for next wave of Coach Bug bans

A new understanding between Valve and ESIC is a major win for the embattled integrity body.

Dust2.us has confirmed with the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) that the recent commutations of Nicholas "guerri" Nogueira, Alessandro "Apoka" Marcucci, and Anton "ToH1o" Georgiev's bans from Valve events have come as a result of an agreement finally reached between ESIC and CS:GO's publisher Valve on how bans relating to the "Coach Bugs" will be handled moving forward. This agreement should allow for ESIC to continue their investigation and importantly, issue new bans in relation to historical cases of abuse of the spectator/coach bugs.

ESIC had previously made the decision to halt issuing further mass bans for usage of the coach bug in August 2021 due to Valve's unliteral usage of ESIC's investigation to issue bans that were not in line with ESIC's recommendations. In particular, until recently Valve used ESIC's demerit points system as the basis for bans from Valve-sponsored events. Importantly however, Valve ignored ESIC's concessions matrix, a system by the commission where the length of individual's bans could be reduced for cooperating with the investigation or for demonstrating they did not or could not benefit from one of the bugs appearing in game.

This anomaly led to a number of coaches facing bans from Valve that were out of line with ESIC's recommendations. Using guerri as an example, the Brazilian coach faced a four-month ban from ESIC due to receiving a 60% concession after assisting with their investigation and admitting guilt. However, due to Valve disregarding the concession matrix, guerri faced a five-Major ban, which would see him only unbanned in 2024 due to 2021 only featuring a single Major.

This vast gulf between the two parties handling of ESIC's investigation led to guerri and Apoka filing a joint legal appeal action on July 5th, 2022 in an attempt to compel ESIC's independent appeals body to revise how demerit points were calculated internally. This action was taken with the hope that if the intendent appeals body was compelled to change how many demerit points guerri and Apoka were awarded, Valve could be convinced to revise the length of their respective bans.

Unfortunately, in August 2022 when ESIC announced this successful appeal by the duo to change the demerit points algorithm, "Valve’s initial response indicat[ed] that they [would] not make that adjustment" to pre-existing bans. While ESIC and Valve have not made any communications regarding this topic since August 2022, Dust2.us understands that ESIC have continuously communicated with Valve to see the publisher change their opinion on the matter.

This continued communication finally bore fruit yesterday, with guerri, Apoka, and ToH1o all receiving emails from Valve stating "Valve does not object to you participating in future CS:GO Majors (including the upcoming Paris Major)", effectively commuting the trio's bans and seemingly bringing their Valve bans more in line with their ESIC bans.

Dust2.us reached out to Ian Smith, the Commissioner of ESIC, to further understand the body's role in this unexpected change. Smith told Dust2.us that ESIC has been liaising with Valve for a number of months to try and resolve anomalies between ESIC and Valve's handling of bans stemming from ESIC's investigations.

As a result of this communication, Smith noted these changes:

The outcome is that, where a successful (in whole or in part) appeal is based on proving that the coach did not or could not abuse the bug in some or all the rounds that contributed to his ESIC demerit points, Valve will consider commuting the relevant element of that coach’s Major ban.

To be clear, Valve do not consider ESIC’s discounts given for early admission of guilt or help with our investigation as a valid reason to reduce the Major ban.

Valve have so far, based on our appeal findings, reduced or removed the Major bans of three coaches.

The implication of this new agreement by Valve and ESIC is that appeals made by coaches who can prove they did not or could abuse the bug in certain rounds could see their Major bans reduced in length, which could see bans reduced in length or see some permanent bans overturned.

Additionally, this clears a major roadblock for ESIC issuing their next wave of coach bug bans in the near future. Smith noted explicitly that Valve's unilateral action made ESIC take a pause, stating, "We wanted this issue resolved and agreed before publishing the outstanding coach bug cases and we have now reached an understanding with Valve so can proceed with the remaining cases."

This change can be see as a major win for the embattled ESIC organization as they have struggled to retain community support and confidence due to a number of high-profile mistakes in recent years. The agreement can also be viewed as a win for the community-at-large as punishing all parties involved in abuse of the coach bug will play a role in building confidence in the esport's competitive integrity.

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#1(With 1 replies)
March 2, 2023 03:30PM
not again lol
#2(With 0 replies)
March 2, 2023 03:57PM
we're gonna get more
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