A new organization called the Esports Integrity Coalition has launched in the UK, with the aim of becoming “the recognized guardian of the integrity of esports.” The group, which is open to “all professional esports stakeholders,” said it wants to assume responsibility for preventing, investigating, and prosecuting all forms of cheating in esports, including match fixing and doping.
Current ESIC members include ESL, Dreamhack, Intel, and Plantronics, as well as law firm Sheridans and betting sites Unikrn and Betway. Additional members are being recruited, and the coalition is preparing to launch an anti-corruption education campaign as well as an effort to monitor and investigate suspicious esports betting through the use of Sportradar's Fraud Detection System.
“It has been eye-opening and a privilege to work in esports these past nine months and to have gained sufficient trust within the industry to be appointed the first Integrity Commissioner,” ESIC Commissioner Ian Smith said. “I have spent the last 20 years working across a range of sports, involved heavily in the protection of their integrity, so I am looking forward to applying all those insights and experience to the esports ecosystem. There are many challenges ahead, but it is to esports’ credit that the industry is taking these steps in anticipation of a foreseeable problem, rather than in reaction to a crisis, which is the route taken by most traditional sports to date.”
ESL Director of Communications Anna Rozwandowicz added,“Integrity is paramount at ESL. We were the first esports organizer to introduce doping control at events and have since then made awareness of the issue a priority within the industry. ESL is proud to be a part of ESIC are looking forward to developing and evolving the initiative further with industry partners and influencers.”
ESIC isn't the only agency of its type in the picture, however. The British Esports Association lays claim to being “the national governing body for esports in the United Kingdom,” and ESL is also a founding member of WESA, the World Esports Association. It's far too early to determine how, or even if, they'll work together, and I can't help wondering if esports integrity enforcement is at risk of becoming a territorial goat rodeo, rather like pro boxing associations. But an even more important question is how (or, again, if) ESIC will be able to help bring an end to deceptive gambling sites like CSGO Lounge, or YouTubers like PsiSyndicate who participate in rigged promotions. At first blush, that aspect of the betting scene might seem to fall outside of ESIC's purview because those involved are, arguably at least, not pro esports stakeholders. But if cracking down on corruption is the mandate it seeks, it's going to have to go where the trouble is. Otherwise, what's the point?