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 [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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게임학원장, 유명 선수 결탁, 수백만원 주고 게이머 매수


지난 1월 19일 케이블TV 게임전문 채널을 통해 생중계된 ‘스타크래프트’ 프로리그 S구단 대 K구단의 두 번째 경기. 프로게이머 진모(22)씨는 경기 시작과 함께 맵(가상 전투공간)의 한 중간에 공격 진지를 짓기 시작했다. 프로 게임에서 흔히 나오는 장면은 아니었다. 공격적이지만 상대의 역습을 받아 쉽게 패할 수 있는 모험적인 전술이었기 때문이다. 그러나 상대 게이머 박모(23)씨는 병사 조종을 어설프게 하는 등 방어를 제대로 하지 못했다. 초반에 기선을 제압한 진씨는 바로 박씨 진영을 공격해 손쉽게 승리를 거뒀다. 게임 해설자는 “오늘 게임이 좀 이상하다. 기회가 있었는데 왜 공격하지 않지요”라며 박씨의 플레이가 평소 같지 않다는 점을 지적했다. 경기가 끝난 뒤 인터넷상에도 “게이머가 고의로 진 것 같다”는 조작설이 돌았다.

진씨가 과감한 전술을 구사할 수 있었던 것은 전날 상대 게이머 박씨의 전술을 미리 입수했기 때문이었다. 박씨는 진씨에게 “초반에는 공격하지 않겠다”는 작전 계획을 흘렸던 것이다. 박씨는 그 대가로 게이머 양성학원을 운영하는 박모(25)씨로부터 500만원을 받았다.
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