The Counter-Strike team of Reason Gaming, a UK-based esports organization, has been suspended from the ESL Premiership by the Esports Integrity Coalition for allegedly throwing a match against Radix.
A tweet from Epilson eSports’ Owen “smooya” Butterfield first sparked public curiosity, and afterward ESIC commissioner Ian Smith issued a statement to Esports News UK that no “notice of charge” had been issued, but an investigation had started and a provisional suspension was warranted because of strong preliminary evidence.
“ESIC has not decided whether there is a case to answer and no Notice of Charge has been issued – investigations are ongoing,” he said. “Preliminary evidence, however, was compelling enough to justify provisional suspension while these further investigations are carried out.”
After that, a screenshot of an email sent to the Reason players surfaced, which was apparently titled “Notice of Charge, Plea Bargain and Provisional Suspension – Match manipulation ESL Premiership – Team Reason,” according to a report by UK CSGO. When reached for comment, Smith told UK CSGO the email wasn’t actually a notice of charge, but merely notifying the team that “a notice of charge may result from the investigation.”
In the body of the email — of which UK CSGO obtained a screenshot — Smith notified Reason the ESIC had reason to believe the players “deliberately underperformed” against Radix in order to get a favorable matchup in the next round instead of Method or Fish123. Listed as preliminary evidence for the charge was a chatlog of Reason Gaming’s players “discussing deliberate underperformance” and “compelling demo analysis.”
According to UK CSGO, the main piece of evidence was a 40 second clip of a Twitch stream, which was referred to as the “chatlog’ in the email. The clip allegedly features the voices of Reason Gaming’s Scott “kARMApangya” Campbell, Thomas “Thomas” Utting and smooya. A copy of the clip was saved by YouTuber Evil Toast, and the players were discussing an upcoming match and a replacement for Reason’s Bradley “Hoodlum” Ratcliff.
In the email, Smith advised Reason to take a plea bargain of a ban until May 2018. If Reason doesn’t take the sanction and wishes to fight the case, a “full investigation, prosecution and hearing” would be triggered, which could result in a sentence lower or higher than what Smith offered.