The emerging world of esports may be relatively new compared to other competitive sports, but that doesn't mean its players haven't worked out how to take advantage of the system. From throwing tournaments to boosting other player’s stats to betting against their own team and more, plenty of cheaters have already been caught red-handed, and plenty more will continue to be as organizers get better at spotting any hacks.
The games players use to cheat also cover a range of different genres, from first-person shooters like Overwatch and CS:GO, to strategy games like Dota 2 or League of Legends, to even digital card games like Hearthstone. While a number of cheaters used outlawed hacks like aimbot to benefit themselves, some of the biggest cheating scandals in esports actually involved multiple teams - with multiple ramifications.
Check out our list below to read about some of the most shocking cheating scandals in esports history.
Forsaken - 'CS:GO'
How they cheated: Used an aimbot hack
In one of the most famous incidents in esports cheating history, a member of OpTic India's CS:GO was caught red-handed at one of the biggest tournaments of 2018.
It was the eXTREMESLAND 2018 Asia Finals, and the player Forsaken had equipped an aimbot on his PC. Tournament officials quickly caught on, and as they approached his setup, be tried to delete it directly in front of them. Needless to say, there wasn't really a question of whether he was innocent or not.
Of course, his team was promptly disqualified, and further investigations found that he had also cheated at the ESL India Premiership 2018 Fall Tournament. CS:GO already has a bad rep for cheaters, but Forsaken's antics really shook viewers' faith in the esports scene for the game.529Game over?
Azubu Frost - 'League of Legends'
How they cheated: Caught using spectator screens to check the other team's location
Ever wonder why League of Legends players are basically kept in boxes during high-level competitive matches? Yeah, this would be why.
Against the team SoloMid at the League of Legends World Championships in 2012, not just one player, but the entire team of Azubu Frost was caught looking at screens to gain an advantage. The catch? It wasn't their opponents' screens, but instead the large spectator screens placed around the arena so people could, you know, spectate the match. Those screens showed where every player was on the map, hence who it helped them cheat. The referees stopped the match and told them to look forward, but, unfortunately, the behavior continued.
The team wasn't disqualified, but it was charged a $30,000 fine and lost some serious respect from the esports scene and the community. The team was released from the Azubu organization shortly thereafter.315Game over?
Flex - 'CS:GO'
How they cheated: Used an aimbot hack
CS:GO is a game that requires impeccable aim if you're going to make it in the pro scene, so it makes sense that aimbotting is a common cheat for the first-person shooter.
That's exactly what team Grandpa Berets' player Flex was doing when their team was up 8-2 at an ESEA tournament in 2015. After taking a closer look at Flex's "unbelievable" plays, it turns out that he was, in fact, utilizing a hack, and he was banned before the eleventh round.
The casters for the tournament were hilariously and understandably gobsmacked, as they said "That explains a lot."262Game over?
Life - 'Starcraft II'Photo: Liquipedia
How they cheated: Caught throwing matches for money
In 2013, Lee "Life" Seung-Hyun reached new heights with an unprecedented win streak of tournaments in the Starcraft II scene, and was also the youngest player to ever win a GSL tournament.
That all came crashing down, however, when he was exposed for involvement in a large-scale match-fixing scandal in 2015. It was discovered that Sung Jun Mo, a former player, host, and journalist, was paying Life to throw matches, and then going to bet on those matches in order to turn a profit.
As a result, Seung-Hyun was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a three-year ban, and the equivalent of a $64,000 fine. In addition, he received a lifetime ban from any KeSPA tournaments. Performing acts that are illegal within the rules of a game is one thing, but when you venture into real-life fraud, you face real-life consequences.278Game over?