The Esports Integrity Commission has fined Vitality’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team $10,000 for stream sniping. The misdemeanour occurred during Vitality’s BLAST Premier matches against Team Liquid and Complexity, where the official stream clearly showed the broadcast being played on a television in the lounge behind the players.
The BLAST Premier is one of the biggest esports tournaments, but ESIC’s assessment of the footage “does not suggest that the players were given information derived from the stream or that they gained any advantage in their matches”. Therefore, ESIC determines that a ban would be a “disproportionate” punishment for Vitality.
Vitality’s management has accepted responsibility for the error, with CEO Nicolas Maurer saying that “Even though this is not coming from a malicious intention, we agree that this placement [of the television] is controversial. This is a big mistake on our side and we accept the fine.” Both the team and BLAST Premier commissioner Andrew Haworth acknowledge that as soon as the team was made aware of the stream playing behind its players, someone immediately turned off the screen. Maurer additionally apologised to all CS:GO fans for the violation.
You can see the offending screen in the clip below:
ESIC deems the fine to be a “proportionate” response to the violation due to the watchdog’s zero tolerance policy, even while teams compete from home. The commission reminds all players “to remain vigilant while matches are being played in home environments to ensure that negligent breaches are stopped.”
ESIC issues $10,000 fine to team Vitality in response to stream-sniping breach of the ESIC Code.
While there was no malicious intention detected by ESIC in its examination of evidence, ESIC’s zero tolerance approach mandates accountability from the organisation for the breach. pic.twitter.com/Gs7Kwut0le
— ESIC (@ESIC_Official) January 23, 2021
However fans are less sure about the punishment, with many believing that Vitality has got off lightly and pointing out that the fine sets a worrying precedent. Some matches are worth far more than this sum in prize money, and fans seem not to trust ESIC’s summation that Vitality did not intentionally stream snipe.