Counter-Strike pro somehow gets banned for life twice after stealing other players' SSDs at IEM Dallas, blames the ganja

A Counter-Strike chicken with guns.
(Image credit: Valve)

Counter-Strike pro player Adam "nbgee12" Zanzoul has been barred from IEM Dallas 2024 and permabanned from the FACEIT platform after being caught stealing SSDs from his fellow competitors (as first reported by Dust 2). Almost unbelievably, this comes around two months after the ESL had commuted a previous 100 year-ban imposed on Zanzoul thanks to new policies and, to stretch credulity even further, Zanzoul says it's all down to the demon weed. 

The incident took place in the small hours on May 31st, after the 19 year-old Zanzoul gained entry to a backstage area containing other players' equipment. Zanzoul helped himself to SSDs belonging to his fellow professionals Jake "Stewie2K" Yip, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, and Guy "NertZ" Iluz.

Reports of the incident first began surfacing on social media, before Zanzoul granted an interview to fellow player and streamer Collin "CoJoMo" Moren in which they discuss what happened. Zanzoul admits taking the three SSDs from a larger pile of hardware, then taking them back to his hotel room at the Omni Dallas Hotel (which is connected to the event venue).

Zanzoul's "tl;dr" version of events is that he went to the venue at 4am, and was "let into the venue during the night, I was somewhere I wasn't supposed to be and took stuff." If you're wondering why there was a big pile of SSDs just sitting around, these contain individual players' configurations and settings for matches, but are held by event organisers over the duration to ensure competitive integrity and smoother setups for matches. 

Zanzoul goes on to say he was detained by Dallas Police after ESL staff, drum roll please, saw evidence of him doing it on security footage. The SSDs were returned and the ESL decided not to press charges, but banned him for five years before the next day upgrading this to a permanent ban. 

Here's the good part. Explanations? Zanzoul has lots of them. Maybe it was just trolling, he rather implausibly suggests. Or that he's a self-confessed "moron", among other words too rude to reproduce, and "I just do dumb things sometimes". He thought it wouldn't be a big deal, and says he's never done anything like this or been arrested before, which if true seems irrelevant anyway. When later contacted by Dust 2 for comment, Zanzoul further claimed that he'd been using marijuana and was high at the time. Finally comes the mea culpa:

"Words cannot adequately express how humiliating and dejecting this has been," says Zanzoul. "I am genuinely disgusted by my behavior and am committed to learning from this experience."

Fellow professional M0nesy posted another theory on his Telegram page: "I found out at IEM Dallas that some dude stole Niko and Stewie's SD cards and wanted to download cheats onto them. What kind of crazy person would even think of such a thing?"

Whatever the reasons for this act, it looks like it will be career-ending for the young player, whose previous behaviour has been less than exemplary. Zanzoul has previously received a permanent ban for ban evasion (!) from the ESL, been banned from the FACEIT Pro League for attempted match-fixing, and has a history of being offensive and unprofessional online and in-person. In such a context, and having been given a second chance so recently, boosting your fellow professionals' equipment at a major event and re-incurring the wrath of the ESL seems mind-bogglingly stupid.

I've contacted Zanzoul for comment, and will update with any response. Meanwhile I'll leave you with CS player BeautifulDimension56, whose thoughts incline towards medical science:

"His brain gotta be studied in the future because what type of decision making is this?"

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."