The Esports Integrity Coalition was formed last year with the intention of making sure eSports competitions remain fair and regulated. Since then it has entered multiple partnerships with many eSports companies, along with a lot of betting companies to ensure that issues such as match fixing and doping are eliminated from the world of eSports.
Things seem to be going well for the young organisation, but sometimes their work us underreported, or completely missed by many in the world of eSports, leading some to question what they are actually doing. In order to clear up these issues, and find out what the ESIC is doing and how well it is doing, we caught up with Ian Smith, Esports Integrity Commissioner at ESIC.
eSports Pro: First off could you tell us what the ESIC is and who it is made up of?
Ian Smith: “The Esports Integrity Coalition is a not for profit members’ association established in 2015 by key eSports stakeholders to deal with issues of common interest – in particular the threat that match manipulation and betting fraud and other integrity challenges pose to eSports.
Members and supporters include of the ESIC:
· The Gamer Agency
· Plantronics Gaming
· Esports Middle East
As well as a number of betting operators offering esports markets and gambling regulators from around the world that regulate operators offering esports markets.”
eSports Pro: Why was the ESIC formed in the first place, what are the main goals of the organisation?
Ian Smith: “ESIC was founded as a response to a threat assessment that revealed the most significant threats to eSports are, in order of priority, cheating to win using software cheats, online attacks to slow or disable an opponent, match-fixing and doping. The main goals are stated in our mission statement: ‘To be the recognised guardian of the sporting integrity of eSports and to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping.’”
eSports Pro: What is the ESIC currently doing to achieve its goals?
Ian Smith: “Currently, ESIC is continuing to expand by bringing key stakeholders into the fold dedicated to maintaining standards in the industry; most recently, GameCo, the Gamer Agency and Mettlestate joined us. Alongside this, we’re implementing the Anti-Corruption code into the terms and conditions of our members and their tournaments. We also educate eSports players and participants about what behaviour is acceptable, monitor eSports betting to identify and investigate suspicious bets and promote the importance of integrity in this swiftly-expanding industry.”
eSports Pro: Do you think what the ESIC is doing is working?
Ian Smith: “So far the signs are overwhelmingly positive that what we’re doing is having a big impact – player education alone is helping to deter opportunistic match-fixing, especially now that they know they are likely to get caught!”
eSports Pro: Is the ESIC basically just the same as WESA?
Ian Smith: “There’s absolutely no similarity between ESIC and WESA, other than the fact we both occupy and operate in the eSports space. ESIC is a regulator; WESA is an association of teams working together in promotion of the ESL Pro League. The only real relation between ESIC and WESA is that ESIC oversees the WESA sanctioned league from an integrity point of view.”
eSports Pro: Can you ever truly eliminate cheating / match fixing in eSports or is it a lost cause?
Ian Smith: “We can certainly reduce it dramatically, but it would be hubristic to think anyone could eliminate it entirely – there are always people willing to cheat for money. That in no way means it isn’t worth trying, however.”
eSports Pro: Is doping a real threat in eSports or has the media overblown how common it is?
Ian Smith: “It’s important to acknowledge a potential problem and try and get out ahead of, but over the last 12 months ESIC has tested over 120 players, surveyed over 120 more and received therapeutic use exemption applications from a small proportion and nothing we have seen has given us any indication of a doping problem at all. We’re not saying it couldn’t become a problem – I think we have to remain vigilant – but there’s no evidence of it right now.”
eSports Pro: Are there any areas that the ESIC plans to expand into?
Ian Smith: “Right now we already have quite a broad mandate of issues we want to focus on. As previously mentioned, the key ones we’ve identified in order of significance are cheating to win using software cheats, online attacks to slow or disable an opponent, match-fixing and doping. That said, we’re a members’ association, so if our members decide there are other pressing concerns they want ESIC to address, we’ll identify the best ways to go about it and get on it.”
eSports Pro: What has the general response been from the eSports industry, are they happy the ESIC was formed?
Ian Smith: “It’s tricky to say – everyone we’ve spoken to has had nothing but positive things to say, but it could be they’re just being nice! In all seriousness, I think there’s a tacit understanding that something like ESIC was needed and a sense of relief it arrived before any major incidents occurred. Obviously we’re here to help the industry, so all feedback is good feedback!”
eSports Pro: Is there anything you would like to add?
Ian Smith: “ESIC is designed to assist the industry deal with a common threat that will affect everyone if it isn’t dealt with. We are tailored to be able to accommodate members of all sizes and we are neutral, so the politics and rivalries of the industry can be left at the door and everyone can work together to address this threat to the common good – that must be a good thing.”