Gamers banned for match-fixing and betting against own team

Six professionals suspended for up to three years over activities related to regional tournament

After the bets were placed, the mastermind of the scheme told four team members about his plan to lose. The four - (from left) Mr Justin Wong Chong Cheng, Mr Du Min Yeo, Mr Benedict Tan and Mr Sengdala Jamnalong - did not want to lose, but hid what t
After the bets were placed, the mastermind of the scheme told four team members about his plan to lose. The four - (from left) Mr Justin Wong Chong Cheng, Mr Du Min Yeo, Mr Benedict Tan and Mr Sengdala Jamnalong - did not want to lose, but hid what they allegedly knew from officials. PHOTOS: RSG (RSG.GG)/FACEBOOK
Mr Malcolm Chung (left) allegedly initiated the scheme, roping in fellow gamer Ryan Tan (right).
Mr Malcolm Chung (left) allegedly initiated the scheme, roping in fellow gamer Ryan Tan (right). PHOTOS: RSG.GG/FACEBOOK, RYANLOVE.TORRES/FACEBOOK
Leaked messages from Mr Malcolm Chung and the bets that he placed on an illegal betting site. He had purportedly tried to pay off his teammates after the team's loss in a tournament, but they rejected this.
Leaked messages from Mr Malcolm Chung and the bets that he placed on an illegal betting site. He had purportedly tried to pay off his teammates after the team's loss in a tournament, but they rejected this. PHOTOS: CALEL336/TWITTER

Several professional gamers here have been banned for match-fixing and betting against their own team in a regional tournament held last year.

Six players, including five from the Singapore team Resurgence, were handed bans of between six months and three years last week by tournament organiser Valorant Esports.

One of the players was found to have made $3,000 worth of illegal bets against his own team, and tried to pay off other members in his team to keep quiet after they lost.

Resurgence had competed in the Valorant Ignition Series' Epulze Royal Sea Cup held last year.

The tournament was part of a larger international competition for the first-person shooter game Valorant, and saw Resurgence play against the Japanese team BlackBird Ignis.

The match, held on Sept 22, saw the Singapore team lose 0-2.

As the loss resulted in Resurgence being kicked out during the group stage, they did not get any part of the US$25,000 (S$33,600) prize pool.

Allegations of match-fixing had surfaced online in April, with leaked screenshots of chats and bets by Resurgence player Malcolm Chung, who goes by the user name Germsg.

According to the screenshots, he purportedly placed $3,000 in bets on an illegal online gambling site, wagering that his team would lose 0-2 to BlackBird Ignis.

After the loss, he also allegedly told an unknown person that he was "not even trying" during the matches, and that he was safe as long as his team manager did not have any suspicions about what was going on.

The players were suspended on April 22 after the allegations surfaced online.

In a statement last week, Riot Games, which owns Valorant, said Mr Chung had initiated the scheme, roping in fellow competitive gamer Ryan Tan, who goes by the user name dReamy.

Mr Tan, who is currently a full-time national serviceman, was not part of Resurgence, but had provided Mr Chung with the money for the bets. Both men have been banned from participating in Valorant competitions for three years.

After the bets were placed, Mr Chung told four members of his team about his plan to lose. But he kept it from one other member of the six-player team.

Riot Games said the four others did not want to lose, but hid what they allegedly knew from officials as they were concerned about penalties and risking their professional gaming career contracts.

The four were identified as Mr Justin Wong Chong Cheng, Mr Sengdala Jamnalong, Mr Du Min Yeo and Mr Benedict Tan, who respectively went by the user names Boplek, Jabtheboy, Mortdecai and Benaf.

Mr Wong and Mr Jamnalong have been banned from participating in Valorant competitions for a year each, while their two other teammates were handed bans of six months each.

Mr Chung had purportedly tried to pay off his teammates after the loss, but they rejected this. The team disbanded a month after the tournament.

Riot Games said the bans were handed out based on the level of culpability and cooperation during investigations.

"Competitive integrity is a top priority for Riot Games and we aim to uphold this quality in all of our e-sports tournaments," a spokesman for the American video game developer, publisher and e-sports tournament organiser told ST.

"We want to provide our professional teams with a fair and transparent environment to compete both regionally and globally, so we take any violation of our rules of play very seriously."

Resurgence rebranded itself in November to RSG, and recently secured US$1 million in investments. It is currently sponsored by brands such as Lenovo, Secretlab, Pizza Hut and Malaysian telco Yoodo.

A spokesman for RSG told ST: "We take a very firm stand on player integrity and do not condone match-fixing. When we found out about the incident, we alerted the organisers immediately and cooperated fully with the investigations."

This is the first known case of e-sports match-fixing reported here.

In February last year, Interpol's Match-Fixing Task Force emphasised the need for global action against match-fixing in e-sports.

It said that because profits from matches have moved into millions of dollars and euros, match manipulation has become increasingly attractive and a lucrative area for criminal networks around the world.

Those found guilty of match-fixing may be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.

In response to queries from ST, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said it could not confirm or deny if the players were being investigated owing to "confidentiality issues".

However, its spokesman added that all forms of corruption will not be tolerated here. "Singapore adopts a strict zero-tolerance approach towards corruption," she said. "The CPIB will not hesitate to take stern action against any parties involved if evidence of match-fixing through bribery is established."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2021, with the headline 'Gamers banned for match-fixing and betting against own team'. Subscribe