Illegal gambling, throwing matches, mafia ties — these aren’t problems normally associated with professional gaming, at least until now. Reports indicate that twelve people, including players and coaches, have been arrested in South Korea over accusations of just that sort of unsavory business, according to TeamLiquid.
The players implicated in the arrests, known by their handles Yoda and BBoongBBoong, are accused of being paid to take dives in at least five matches between January and June of 2015, at both Proleague and GSL tournaments. Their coach, Gerrard, was also arrested for acting as a middleman in the deals, moving money from an unknown backer to the players in advance of the tournaments.
After allegedly throwing a Proleague match in January, BBoongBBoong is said to have helped Yoda connect with Gerrard to act as a middleman for further match fixing. The eSports leadership says Yoda fixed four more matches, two of them for Gerrard. In order to profit off the losses, the parties allegedly paying Gerrard used illegal sites to bet on the pre-ordained outcome of the matches.
While they aren’t named in the report, the two men believed to be responsible for paying off Gerrard and the players have alleged connections to organized crime in South Korea. After the first couple of matches, it’s alleged that Gerrard blackmailed the players into continuing to participate. It doesn’t help his case that just a few months ago, Korean eSports blog Fomos shared reports it had recieved that Gerrard was in financial trouble, and was asking friends and family for money.
Part of the problem is that not only is fixing matches against the agreement signed by the teams, but gambling itself is also illegal in South Korea. As a result, the whole situation encompasses bribery, blackmailing, match fixing, illegal gambling, and mafia ties. Both Yoda and Gerrard have already been banned for life by the Korean eSports association, regardless of the outcome of the criminal trial. When will the made-for-TV movie for all this come out?