FaceIt’s Esports Championship Series (ECS) has a glaring issue: It doesn’t use any form of anti-cheat outside of the Valve Anti-Cheat system.
Cheating is a touchy topic within the Counter-Strike community. Some believe VAC works properly and effectively, but others who play the game regularly say it can be easily bypassed. So much so that a number of league organizers have developed their own, more invasive system. FaceIt has one of them, yet doesn’t use it for either ECS or the ECS Development League, as multiple sources have confirmed.
The ECS Development League is a fantastic model that allows lower tier teams a chance to compete against the best teams in the world. Sixteen teams in either region of the Development League compete for two top spots (four in total), who play against the bottom ranked teams from the premier league. Winners of this “showdown” matchup are then promoted — or retain their position in the top tier of ECS and then play in hopes to qualify for the finals, which have a $660,000 prize pool.
That isn’t to suggest a team would actually cheat its way through the ranks, but the possibility shouldn’t even exist. If FaceIt (which runs ECS) believes in and trusts its own anti-cheat, then why not use it? Multiple players in both leagues have shared privately that ECS believes in the “honor system,” and they have at points felt as if certain players were in fact cheating against them.
ECS uses the FaceIt anti-cheat for open qualifiers for the Development League, according to sources, but it should be used at all levels. If other industry-leading organizers use their own improved anti-cheat, why doesn’t FaceIt? It’s irresponsible to even allow the possibility of cheating to occur.
Cheaters are reviled in competitive Counter-Strike — even more so than match-fixers. Two players and a manager left Vexed Gaming just last week because of the signing of a formerly VAC-banned player Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian. According to many pros, cheating is the ultimate form of deceit and disrespect — and rightfully so. So to be clear: the most despicable act a professional player can perform (in their eyes) is not being properly prevented by a premier tournament organizer. Those who argue a player wouldn’t risk their career for a crack at a $660,000 prize pool are kidding themselves.
A number of issues, while rather unlikely, could appear if the right individuals conspired together. An organization owner who signs players for pennies and is aware of them cheating could then profit massively by later selling the team if they achieve promotion into ECS. Will that happen? Almost certainly not. But just like with CSGO’s current troubles with conflicts of interest (that much of the community ignores, but that’s a different story), any possibility of this extreme case — or more mild ones — should be squashed. And they’re not.
As the popularity of CS:GO continues to skyrocket, the highest form competitive integrity is necessary. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
ECS did not respond to requests for comment on this story