ESIC Commissioner comments on the status of current investigations
Ian Smith, the head of the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), shed some light on ongoing investigations on the HLTV Confirmed podcast. In particular, the commissioner commented on the case against former coach Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen, who was handed a two-year ban for sharing Heroic's tactics with third parties, the match-fixing in regional ESEA MDL leagues, and suspicious bookmaking activities of the Project X team's sponsor, whose players now play in Akuma.
First of all, Smith confirmed the recent statement of ESIC that the main reason for their interference in the conflict between Heroic and HUNDEN was the potential impact on the integrity of the IEM Cologne 2021 tournament, which will kick off soon, and is organized by ESL, the current Commission member. According to him, representatives of the team, who the accused sent confidential information to, provided experts with direct access to their history of the files received, which also confirmed that the information had not been used.
Continuing the discussion of the case against HUNDEN, Smith noted that the amount of shared information was so large that after going through only some of the files, it became clear that there was a high level of danger of the information falling into the hands of an opponent. He pointed out that short videos and text documents were found among the information, which contained every minute details of Heroic's strategies, rather than something general like "let's push hard on B side more often on Dust2 when we're playing against G2".
Smith emphasized the fact that HUNDEN had disseminated confidential information while still under contract with Heroic, which would not be the same as if his contract with the Danish organization had already been expired at the time of sharing the information with the other team. And the fact that the addressee did not view the files does not make any difference, because Petersen committed a wrongful act when he sent the email and could not control its use, the head of ESIC added.
HUNDEN's public confession was considered in the investigation, so a personal questioning of the accused was not required, Smith explains. However, the Danish specialist still has the right to appeal the decision of the Commission, but this procedure is much more complicated and includes the involvement of an independent panel of judges, and may entail additional sanctions.
As for the investigation of match-fixing in North America and Oceania, Smith admitted that there were many mistakes in the organization of the process. According to him, ESIC, the US FBI, the Canadian and Australian police, as well as many other parties involved, have different priorities regarding this case, which is why it is being delayed. Currently, 35 players are under investigation, some of whom have switched to Valorant, and six or seven teams.
Commenting on the likely involvement of Akuma - whose players previously played under the Project X tag - in match-fixing, Smith has not made any conclusions. He notes that ESIC possesses reports of suspicious betting activities of Project X's sponsor Alexander Shishko, and that they were handed to Valve, but at the moment, the Commission does not have enough to conduct a detailed investigation, but the case will be considered in the near future.