StarCraft’s newest tribe: Match-fixers

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StarCraft’s newest tribe: Match-fixers

The dark rumors bedeviling fans of the hyper-popular game StarCraft have come true: prosecutors yesterday indicted a group of professional gamers for fixing the outcome of StarCraft tournaments - and receiving large sums of money to do so.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted 14 people, including 11 professional gamers, on charges of fraud and illegal gambling for fixing StarCraft tournaments.

Among them, a man surnamed Park, 24, the owner of a computer game hagwon, was indicted with physical detention, seven were indicted without physical attention and six face summary indictments with fines ranging from 2 million won ($1,765) to 5 million won. One other person has been indicted and surrendered to the military police for investigation because he is a soldier.

According to prosecutors, Park, along with a gang member named Kim (who is wanted by police), gave 2 million won to 7 million won each to professional gamers to deliberately lose StarCraft tournaments from last September to this February.

The prosecutors’ office said that in local e-sports history, this is the first game-fixing case that involved professional gamers.

Park and Kim allegedly fixed 12 such tournaments, and then placed bets worth a total of 92 million won on an illegal online gambling site dedicated to computer games, and ended up winning around 140 million won. A professional gamer surnamed Won received 3 million won from Park and not only lost a tournament deliberately, but bet himself and won 35 million won.

Park then blackmailed the gamers, telling them to give back the money he paid them or he would tell their team directors they were throwing matches. Through those threats, Park received a total of around 8 million won.

Another prominent figure was a popular professional gamer surnamed Ma, 22, dubbed “the Maestro,” who, according to prosecutors, told two fellow gamers surnamed Jin, 21, and Park, 22, to lose a tournament on Jan. 19th and received money for doing so. That StarCraft tournament was broadcast live on TV, and the commentator said: “Today’s game seems a bit strange. Why didn’t you [Park] attack when you had the chance?”

After the game, several online posts accused the gamers of losing intentionally, and rumors started surfacing about game-fixing.

“These gamers lacked the opportunity for education, which builds character, and instead isolated themselves in this game. They were found to have participated in these schemes without any guilt,” said Wi Jae-cheon, a head prosecutor for the case.

By Cho Jae-eun, Hong Hye-jin []
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