In Esports, winning is everything and some people are so desperate they take it to the next level: cheating.
Video games were created for entertainment and played as a hobby. Today, many have turned this hobby into professional jobs. Tournaments are held with massive prize pools that could expand to more than $5,000,000 dollars, potentially becoming bigger than conventional sports. These major events are called Esports, where professionals from all over the world test their skills against each other to prove who is the best in a certain game. Popular competition games include League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike. Gaming events are getting more and more attention and the audience is growing to enormous amounts. For example, the viewership in League of Legends Worlds 2018 was over 99 million compared to last year’s 56 million.
Many games are broadcasted live for the public, some are even hosted at sporting centers. It is nearly impossible to bypass the security check, as they check equipment and look for software that could lend the team an advantage. But some, out of desperation, still try. In over a dozen cases cheaters were caught trying to hide techniques through programs or even physical enhancements to achieve an easy victory. Each competitive event has a different set of rules, in League of Legends, rule-breaking during matches could lead to a fine over $1000. Other gaming companies like Valve Corporation do not tolerate cheaters at all and punishments hopefully discourage any more scandals from happening.
Mostly everyone confuses cheating with hacking, but they are quite different. Hacking is when skilled experts use their knowledge to gain unauthorized access in a system either to steal or obtain knowledge of something. While cheating is breaking rules to attain an advantage on the other opponents.
Cheaters try to be as subtle as possible to not get caught. Thunder Predator was disqualified from a Dota 2 tournament which had a prize of about 15 million. Atuun, one of the team’s players, used a macro which with the press of a button, allowed him to activate a skill faster than humanly possible. Unfortunately for the cheater, dedicated fans noticed him and provided proof of the act.
In games, cheating can be difficult to detect and it may take investigators months to determine if a player is breaking the rules or just really good. Flusha, a professional player of Counter-Strike Global Offensive, has been accused of cheating by having aim assistance that allows him to see the enemy through walls. But these were only assumptions based on some fishy plays he made. No concrete evidence of cheating was found, so he never did get banned, although he is still dogged by suspicion whenever he makes a particularly impressive play.
Cheating extends beyond these technical tools. Believe it or not, performance-enhancing drugs are also an issue in the Esports world. Players use drugs like Adderall to help enhance their focus and reaction time. Just as with steroid use in conventional sports, there is serious concern about the health effects of using these drugs for competition.
We all want to cheer our favourite team, but calling out the other team’s positions is against competition rules. The crowd can help motivate their favourite team, but if fans are providing information that gives one team an advantage, it really ruins the point of competing. Organizers have countered this by putting both teams in separate cages with noise cancelling headphones to prevent any external communication beyond their own team.
The easy accessibility of cheats makes them a serious temptation for players. It is pretty simple to buy them off the market and sketchy websites for less than $50, and some tools can be obtained for free. Competitive games will need to improve anti-cheat to counter this as there has been many who have publicized their techniques live on the internet. Many tutorials are available on YouTube to teach you how to code it yourself.
Cheating has become increasingly prominent the past few years. Prize pools amounts have increased, enticing more guilty players to participate in tournaments. In response, Esports hosts are tightening security and thoroughly checking competitors. With every game being broadcasted live to an eagle-eyed audience, it is going to be impossible for these tricksters to fraud their way to victory.