Fake tournaments and betting schemes stain the online season for Dota 2

The competitive Dota 2 legitimacy is taking a hit as the tournament organizers and the professional teams are still forced to keep their activity only in the online medium.

It’s been over six months since the world had to change and adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions. The esports field wasn’t spared from suffering from the new way of running a business and while some games might do better during an online only period, others are faced with tougher challenges.

With absolutely no LAN tournaments happening since March 2020, all tournament organizers adjusted their budgets in order to be able to maintain a decent amount of online regional competitions going through the whole 2020. A lot of the competitive teams had to re-think their financial planning as well to survive the year. Some disbanded their rosters, some went with salaries cut, some still survived and keep on grinding the online tourneys.

Trying to make a profit in a business that is dependent on public exposure is no easy task and unfortunately, those who have been the “front-liners” in maintaining the competitive Dota 2 scene afloat during the whole year are exactly the ones who now take another hit.

The competitive scene integrity is blemished in this online format by shady people who have an easy way of creating fake tournaments featuring fake teams and players. The scheme involves creating a tournament, some fake social media accounts, an in-game ticket and a bit of effort to make it look legit by getting the info up onto an established wiki page for the game, such as Liquipedia.

Given the increased amount of fake tournaments over the last several months, Liquipedia released yesterday a warning for the community and the game developer and updated their guidelines for creating events pages on their platform.

“Bad actors know that having a page on Liquipedia is a stamp of legitimacy and that many betting sites connect to Liquipedia’s open API to track matches, tournaments, and results. This means that all it can take to have a match available for betting is for the tournament to have a page on Liquipedia,” said a Liquipedia spokesperson.

According to the statement made on Reddit, Liquipedia staff and volunteers have been threatened and harassed by these “bad actors” on various communication channels. “We’ve heard reports of volunteers and others being verbally harassed, threatened, abused, and even doxxed by these individuals. As a result, some editors have quit or taken a break from contributing due to the stress this has caused, “ said Liquipedia.

As a first step in preventing suspicious activity on their platform, Liquipedia introduced new guidelines for adding tournaments info on their site. However, they acknowledge a lack of support from Valve, who could increase their vigilance and have a better regulated system for approving in-game tickets and tracking of suspicious activity to prevent the match-fixing. They also voiced their concerns and asked for third party tournament organizers, sponsors and betting companies alike to improve their policies on a few aspects.

Extract from Liquipeda’s post:

“We think there are multiple avenues that all need to be addressed at once for this issue to be lessened in the Dota 2 scene, including:

  • Better vetting by Valve of tier-three tickets. This vetting would include checking for the suspicious indicators we listed above before granting a ticket.
  • More investigation into reports of suspicious activity and enforcement of match-fixing rules by Valve.
  • A collaborative task force or council with a vested interest in reducing match-fixing in Dota 2, if not headed by Valve then at least with strong channels of communication to them.
  • A trusted single point of contact — at Valve or potentially within a collaborative task force/council — where a team or player can reliably report issues or suspicions that they are being forced into a match-fixing scheme.
  • More transparency from betting sites on matches that are canceled because of a suspicious volume of bets, investigations conducted into bad actors, and teams or tournaments that have been blocked from betting because of prior issues. Greater information sharing would shine a light on the betting sites that are being diligent and also shine a light on those that are ripe for match-fixing. Liquipedia would gladly help create a place where this information is collected and made easily accessible to the public, and create a blacklist of known match-fixing accounts and contacts.
  • For sponsors to announce their involvement with any tournament to help make sure which tournaments they are sponsoring and which they are not. Or at the very least, post contact information publicly to help members of the esports scene confirm their involvement.
  • Teams that aren’t match fixing but are still joining these scam tournaments help legitimize them, so we urge teams to do their own research into the tournaments before joining them.
  • More help from the community. More contributors on Liquipedia would spread out the workload of monitoring and verifying submissions, and put more pressure on bad actors rather than the other way around. Additionally, more people involved would facilitate better analysis of different cases. Even if you are only helping out once in a while and not with the verifying directly, it will still greatly benefit the project as a whole as you free up more time for the contributors who are willing and able to. And if you join our Discord server it is easier for us to help you get started.”

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