Smooya receives financial penalty as EPIC41 integrity controversy resolved

EPICLAN have announced the resolution to the controversy that emerged after the game concluded. The Neighbours will retain their victory, but one player – smooya – will receive a financial penalty for breaches of integrity. They have also confirmed that they are looking to make improvements to their stage setup for future events.

In order to give clarity to all of the players involved in our CS2 finals, we can confirm that the overall result will still stand as declared on the day.

However, due to the incident where a player left their seat to approach the display, removing their headset & in-ears in…

— EPIC.LAN UK Gaming & Esports Events (@EPICLAN) February 28, 2024

The controversy revolves around the stage setup at EPIC. Players on both teams raised concerns to tournament staff about two things: that screens were visible from the opponents’ position, and the placing of the giant viewing screen directly behind the players. This led to a much-publicised incident where smooya stood up, turned round, and looked at the screen immediately following a round win for The Neighbours. EPICLAN announced an investigation was underway shortly after the grand final had concluded.

This is VILE. Blatant cheating in the GRAND FINALS of @EPICLAN. I hope the admin teams sorts this ASAP!!!!

— Freddie (@GrimyRannarr) February 25, 2024

For context, while looking at the screen during rounds is forbidden for obvious reasons – revealing the location of enemy players and utility – it may not be quite so obvious why looking at the screen during a technical pause or freeze time is considered such. The answer is that plenty of information is available during freeze time – in the photo taken by UKSCGO‘s GrimyRannarr, one can see the K10 team’s money on the right-hand side of the screen. This information is extremely helpful in determining how you should set up – an anti-eco round looks very different from an anti-force buy or a default round. A relevant example of this was the Esports Integrity Commission and ESL banning Emil “em1lshe1n” Madvedov for being in Twitch chat during a tech pause in ESL Premiership, specifically citing the information potentially gained as a result.

To quote RAPTORS EC streamer Alex “edeninho” Holder, “If someone got up and looked at a big screen with info on the other teams [sic] economy in ANY other tournament they would get insta DQd.”

smooya also removed his headset and in-ears, a violation of the rule that “in-ears are a requirement for all players who reach the Grand Final of their respective tournament/when playing in an esports stage match.” This is, again, to prevent undue influence from the crowd at a staged event.

In the interests of balance, smooya’s team-mate James “bevve” Slinn stood up for him and his team shortly after EPIC announced the investigation, saying no information was passed across:

This is what the statement is about, epic was ran very smoothly and we made them aware of many issues before the game that they weren’t willing to change. Sad to see this even being brought up, this obviously didn’t give us an advantage and info regarding economy etc was passed…

— bevve (@bevvexyz) February 25, 2024

The EPICLAN Code of Conduct states that in the event of a rules breach, one possible option is “full or partial removal of prize monies and future event tickets”; it seems this is what was cited here to penalise smooya, since EPICLAN “cannot make an exception based on the player’s intent.” We will update this article if smooya responds, though multiple replies comment that a financial penalty is unlikely to sting for the “richest person on stage”.

This was not the only controversy at EPIC41. Mix team Anita Max Wynn obtained a forfeit win over K10 on the Friday, with both sides citing miscommunication. There were also warnings given out for “trash talk” during the finals, with certain statements from both K10 and The Neighbours deemed by the referees to have crossed a line or to be unpalatable for broadcast. It seems now that EPIC are keen to draw a line under this event, and move on to the next EPICLAN, once again scheduled to be held in the halls of Kettering from the 18th-21st July.

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