Players banned for life as another match-fixing scandal rocks Korean StarCraft

Chris Higgins
Players banned for life as another match-fixing scandal rocks Korean StarCraft

Twelve people have been indicted by Korean authorities for match-fixing in StarCraft 2, including two pro players and head coach of PRIME, Park "Gerrard" Wae-Sik.

Choi "YoDa" Byeon-Heon (pictured) and Choi "BBoongBBoong" Jong-Hyuk (AKA B4) have been handed lifetime bans by the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) and arrested by police.

Along with players and coaching staff, the twelve include those who placed the bets, and brokers including one named individual Seong "Enough" Jun-mo, a former pro player, journalist and broadcast host.

This news comes five years after another match-fixing scandal, implicating 11 pro players, rocked the Korean StarCraft scene, leading to increased involvement of KeSPA.

"Since 2010, the association has worked alongside the rest of the industry to fight against the illegal betting that has continued to threaten the foundation of e-Sports," said KeSPA director Cho Man Soo in a statement today. "It is extremely regrettable that a related incident has occurred again, and we apologize to all of the fans who have shown e-Sports their love and support."

According to details of the investigation, YoDa – who reached a WCS standing of 73 in the world this season – threw four matches, including three in the GSL (Korea's premier league) while B4 threw one.

The match-fixing took place between January and June of this year, and for most of these matches, Gerrard is named as broker, though the ring extends to several others.

B4 himself received around 5m Korean Won ($4,450) in exchange for losing, while YoDa is reported to have received 30m KRW ($26,600) for losing two matches and blackmailed into losing two more with no compensation.

Bettors themselves are reported to have ties to organised crime and approached brokers and Gerrard with initial, legitimate sponsorship and financial backing before proffering a match-fixing agenda.

According to the investigation, over the course of two matches, a Mr. "H" placed bets of 31.5m KRW ($28,000) and received winnings of approximately 41.5m KRW ($36,790) once results were manipulated.

The ring was turned in to KeSPA by an anonymous tipster, seeking compensation through the association's reward program for 'reporting or confessing to illicit activities'.

"The association will pursue strong legal measures based on recent reports, and will be utterly uncompromising should investigators find any hint of connection," said Cho. "Going forward, the association's stance toward illegal betting will continue to be one of zero-compromise, and we will continue to respond strongly to create a healthy e-Sports culture."

Coaching staff and players signed up to KeSPA agree to become subject to civil or criminal law should they be involved in illegal betting.

In 2010, Won "Justin" Jong Seo was fined 3m KRW and sentenced to 120 hours community service with three years probation on an 18-month prison sentence for his involvement in match fixing.

As a result of the investigation, a League of Legends team also run by Gerrard, SBENU, will come under KeSPA stewardship to ensure no interruption of their operation.

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