Cheating has been a common occurrence in video games since the first games were released.
When a player cheats to beat an impossible boss, level, or game, no harm is done.
However, cheating during esports is a completely different matter.
Instead of getting an unfair advantage against the game, cheating in esports gives players an unfair advantage over other players and can be the difference between winning and losing a prestigious tournament. That’s why cheating in esports needs to be monitored and eradicated.
But what is cheating in esports? What happens when a team or player cheats? In this article, we will look at cheating in esports.
How Do People Cheat In Esports?
Many of the titles that are most popular in the esports arenas are rife with cheating.
If you play titles such as Fortnite and Overwatch as a casual player, you will probably find instances of other players cheating and a quick search online will give you many hints and tips on how to cheat yourself.
These cheating methods don’t always filter through to esports and are not as common, but they can still happen.
One common method of cheating is to use aimbots. By searching through the gaming code, these bots can quickly identify the location of other players and will then lock onto them, making it very easy for the cheating player to get both an advantage and a win.
Aimbots are relatively easy to spot, however, so any player using them in esports can be identified and caught.
A trickier and more advanced form of cheating is wallhacks. These work like aimbots as they allow a player to find a rival on the game map.
They get their name because they can even find players hidden behind walls, something that would otherwise be impossible.
As they only locate rivals and don’t lock onto them, wallhacks are more difficult to identify than aimbots.
Another type of cheating that differs from aimbots and wallhacks is match-fixing.
This doesn’t involve taking advantage of the game code but still prevents competitions from being run fairly.
Match-fixing occurs when players are paid large amounts of money to purposely lose matches so that third parties can make money betting against them.
This is another form of cheating that doesn’t influence the game itself.
Like any other type of sports, there are enhancement drugs that can give players an unfair advantage.
These can cause effects such as keeping players more alert for longer periods or increasing reflexes.
These unnatural advantages are also considered cheating and are against esports rules.
Hacks such as aimbots and wallhacks can be spotted by developers and those that run tournaments.
Many of the commonplace hacks such as these can be easily bought online for only $25 to $35 each, so even if the player isn’t skilled enough to create their own hacks, they can still use them.
However, there are also custom-made hacks available that are harder to track because they are unique and not as identifiable.
These can cost thousands of dollars and are so sophisticated that they are near-impossible to spot during play.
Often, they are only spotted when games and tournaments are reviewed after they’re finished.
How Is Cheating In Esports Identified And Prevented?
The esports industry is actively trying to identify and prevent cheating. When cheating is proven, it aims to penalize offenders and make examples of them.
One way that cheating is prevented comes from the developers of the games.
Developers such as Valve consistently release patches and software updates that are aimed at eliminating cheating in their hit esports games, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
These patches can prevent most cheating but developers are constantly playing catch-up as skilled players find more varied ways to take advantage of coding.
What Happens When A Player Or Team Is Proven To Have Cheated?
There are a variety of punishments available. These all depend on the circumstances and seriousness of the situation.
In 2002, Valve introduced the Valve Anti-Cheat System (VAC) and this continues to operate today across several of the titles that are available on Steam.
This software works by scanning the computer of players to see if they have used one of a continually growing number of known cheats.
If VAC identifies one of these cheats, the player is banned permanently with no routes of appeal.
When it comes to esports tournaments, much of the investigation falls to the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC.)
This is a non-profit association that was established in 2015 and works with several esports companies.
It looks for instances of players using software cheats, online attacks to slow rivals, match-fixing, and doping. It investigates any potential cheating impartially.
The ESIC has a Code of Conduct, Anti-Corruption Code, and Anti-Doping Policy (see also ‘What Is The ESIC Anti-Doping Code?‘) that players are asked to follow.
If any of these codes are breached, then the ESIC also has a defined Disciplinary Procedure for each code that determines how the breach will be dealt with.
Their disciplinary proceedings usually involve suspending players, teams, or coaches from future events run by ESIC partners.
In May 2022, the ESIC suspended 37 coaches and three players for using spectator bugs during competitions.
However, not all esports companies are affiliated with the ESIC (see also ‘Everything You Need To Know About The ESIC Disciplinary Panel‘) . If players cheat during these events, the punishments can vary widely. They also do not always have such robust systems for identifying cheating, either.
There are several different ways that players, teams, and coaches can cheat during esports tournaments.
The ESIC is a non-profit association that works with many esports companies to regulate the integrity of esports and can suspend any individual or team that is found to be cheating during tournaments.
We hope that the information in this article helped to explain how cheating in esports occurs and what happens when a player or team cheats.