The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) released a statement on its historic investigation of the ‘Spectator Bug’ and expanded the number of sanctioned people for using it to gain an unfair advantage.
Three Variants of the Spectator Bug
ESIC launched an investigation in 2020 against coaches and players for exploiting a spectator mode bug in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) to gain an advantage over their opponents and initially sanctioned three international coaches.
As the investigation continued, ESIC found out 34 other coaches who have exploited the Spectator Bug and expanded the list of sanctioned people, but in October rescinded the ban on Sergey ‘LMBT’ Bezhanov.
As the mass investigation continued, ESIC uncovered there were three different variants of the Spectator Bug: Static Spectator Bug, Free Roam Spectator Bug, and Third-Person Spectator Bug, and released details related to the variants, the people affected and the sanctions imposed on them.
Static Spectator Bug Variant
The Static Spectator Bug Variant allows the affected participant control over the viewport of the random position on the map the bug placed the coach before the start of the round, giving the participant an unfair advantage in terms of a viewport angle that they should not have.
The variant affected 84 participants in total, ESIC stated, explaining that there were 47 others besides the 37 already sanctioned in 2020 and classified the variant as posing a moderate to a high level of integrity risk.
The integrity body outlined the Static Spectator Bug variant was triggered for 1,311 rounds in 98 matches, and when triggered, occurred for an average of 13 rounds, meaning 13 rounds of potential unfair advantage.
According to its Sanctions Matrix adopted for the September 2020 sanctions and in light of the “potentially serious nature of the infringements being prosecuted with respect to this variant, participants charged will be provisionally suspended from ESIC Member events pending resolution of the charges.”
Free Roam Spectator Bug Variant
This variant enabled the affected participant to fly around the map and have complete control over it, resembling a mechanism that provided the user with a severe and unfair advantage “which could have never been attained utilizing the game’s mechanics intended for competitive play,” giving an advantage “akin to that of a map hack, wall hack, or other cheat.”
Hence, ESIC considers this infringement as cheating or attempting to cheat behavior and far more serious than the other two variants, and meriting sanctions under 2.4.4 and 2.4.5 of the Code of Conduct referring to cheating offenses and providing for up to 24 months suspension.
Further, ESIC provisionally suspended the three participants identified to have utilized the Free Roam Spectator Bug variant from all ESIC Member events pending resolution of the charges.
Third-Person Spectator Bug Variant
Unlike the previous two variants, the third-person variant was triggered by a server software issue on two particular CS:GO tournament platforms, allowing the affected participant to observe the game from a locked third-person view of their team’s players.
And while there was no severity of the risk, ESIC considers the participants’ response to becoming aware of the bug as key and those 47 who decided to complete the round with the advantage merit a sanction equaled to 30 day-suspension for each round with the bug.