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Player bans in eSports “lack any kind of justice”

eSports Integrity Commission warns publishers over strict rulings based on little evidence

The head of a prominent eSports association has criticised games publishers for how readily they ban professional players suspected of cheating.

Speaking to eSports News UK, eSports Integrity Coalition commissioner Ian Smith has warned that unsubstantiated bans will only ruin potential careers and deter players from returning to their eSports title of choice.

The discussion follows news that two British players were banned from the UK Tekken 7 Championship for "suspected collusion", although the report claims the only evidence so far are video clips of one player allegedly letting the other win. Bandai Namco's ruling on this issue is: "Any form of collusion will not be tolerated and will result in a disqualification."

Smith says this isn't specific to Bandai Namco, either: even the firms behind leading eSports brands, including Riot Games and Valve, essentially have a "we think you've done something, you're out" policy.

"There's no discussion around it, it just happens," he said. "As a lawyer, that really winds me up. I dislike the way in which eSports deals with its misdemeanours, it lacks any kind of justice.

"There may be making the right decision in the end, the guy may be guilty, but you ought to know on what evidence that's based and have a chance to put across your own side of the story."

Smith acknowledged that it is difficult to prove whether competitive players are cheating or colluding, and that there will be hundreds of people appealing such sanctions - including the guilty - but better systems are needed to help those who are wrongly accused.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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