ESL Changes Rules in the Wake of Valve’s Crackdown on Smurfs


ESL Changes Rules in the Wake of Valve’s Crackdown on Smurfs

Dorjee Palzang
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Amid the massive smurf ban waves from Valve, ESL has adapted its rules pertaining to bans for its future tournaments
Gorgc issues concerns over un-banning certain players and letting them play competiteively

ESL has updated its policies in response to the increasing prevalence of smurf accounts and the resulting ban waves within the competitive Dota 2 scene. This change, outlined in the latest version of the EPT Rulebook (v2.5 17/01/24), marks a significant shift in how ESL aligns with the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) and Valve's Anti-Cheat (VAC) system decisions.

ESL’s Change in Rules Amid Valve’s Crackdown on Smurfs

The key provision of the updated ESL rules highlights that any bans issued by the ESIC will be mirrored in ESL tournaments. However, a nuanced approach is being taken regarding Dota 2 VAC bans. If these are tied to activities outside competitive play, like account sharing in public matches, ESL may choose to waive these bans, contingent on the player's future conduct on a new, clean account.

This leniency, however, is not without its caveats. In instances where the reasons behind a VAC ban are ambiguous, ESL reserves the right to uphold the ban for up to two years, pending clarity on the matter.

Popular Dota 2 streamer Janne "Gorgc" Stefanovski, weighed in on these developments with a note of caution. Gorgc expressed understanding of ESL's autonomy as a private entity in making these decisions but emphasized the need for careful consideration when lifting bans, particularly concerning players previously implicated in match-fixing scandals. “I get that they're a private company. They get what they want but you gotta be careful you got to be careful, unbanning some players. Don't be too lenient. But two years? I mean okay, I guess,” he said.

Gorgc was most likely concerned about the bans being lifted on players who were involved in match-fixing scandals that hurt the integrity of the e-sport. In an earlier incident, Yaroslav "Limitless" Parhsin took to Telegram to announce that ESL would allow him to participate in ESL-organized tournaments starting in December 2024.

Limitless and nine others were involved in a match-fixing scandal and account-sharing scandal at the Dota 2 Champions League Season 15 and were banned indefinitely by Valve on 19th December 2022. Due to this, many Dota 2 professionals took to social media platforms and urged ESL to withdraw this decision. This includes Oliver "skiter" Lepko of Team Falcons who stated, “Letting former match fixers back into competitive Dota hurts the integrity of pro games.”

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Dorjee is an avid Dota enthusiast, he has been playing the game since it was just a map in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne back in 2009, he transitioned to Dota 2 in 2014 and can't stop playing ever since!

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