European team Meta4Pro withdrew from the lower division of the Dota Pro Circuit's (DPC) European regional league on Tuesday (16 February) after suspicions arose that some of the players in their roster were involved in match-fixing.
In a statement on their official VK (a Russian social network) page, the management of Meta4Pro made the decision after suspicious behaviour was found during the team's last two matches in the lower division, against Hippomaniacs on 9 February and Burjui on 13 February.
The team have not yet named which of their players were involved in the match-fixing as investigations are still ongoing.
"We have reason to believe that some of the players played dishonestly and possibly involved in 322 (match-fixing) incidents. Work to identify the violation is underway and will be completed in the near future," said Meta4Pro.
Meta4Pro is a newcomer to the DPC, having made the lower division of the European regional league through the open qualifiers in early January.
The team's roster consists of Russian players "xactl" and "Vyacheslove", Lithuanian players "Zipzaper" and "Keptas Gaidys", as well as Hungarian player "Lowskill".
Prior to their withdrawal from the league, Meta4Pro was sitting last place in the standings with a 0-5 record.
As a result of Meta4Pro's withdrawal, their two remaining matches against Brame on 16 February and Creepwave on 22 February have been cancelled. All of the team's matches prior to their withdrawal have also been officially changed to forfeits.
"The competitive integrity of our tournaments is our highest priority, and we encourage all players and teams to work with us on creating a clean and reliable competitive environment. Once [the Esports Integrity Commission's] and our investigation is completed, we will update the Dota community on its outcome," Dreamhack, the organisers of the DPC's European regional league, said in their own statement.
Similar incidents across the DPC
While this may become the first-known incident of match-fixing to take place in this year's DPC, it will not be the first time that a team has had to leave the circuit due to malicious conduct.
The 2021 DPC's qualifiers in early January were marred by multiple disqualifications. Malaysian stack VisDota2 was barred from participating in the second stage of the closed qualifier and the subsequent open qualifiers for the Southeast Asian regional league for using a player that had been previously banned by Valve.
The player in question, who plays under the tag Deska, was a member of the Chinese team Avengerls that was caught in a match-fixing scandal with top Chinese organisation Newbee in May last year.
North American stack VirtusProPolar (no relation to the CIS organisation Virtus.pro) was also disqualified for an unauthorised use of a stand-in. VirtusProPolar won the region’s first open qualifier to earn a spot in the closed qualifier, but their spot was rescinded, instead given to the third-placed team of the second open qualifier following their disqualification.
Jimmy “DeMon” Ho, who was playing with A-Team during the qualifiers for the North American regional league, was also handed a disqualification for misconduct in previous tournaments in the midst of the qualifiers. DeMon was among a number of personalities in the Dota 2 scene accused in a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct in the esports scene, alongside the likes of casters Grant "GranDGranT" Harris and Toby "TobiWan" Dawson, in July last year.
As a result of DeMon's disqualification, A-Team was forced to find a replacement and is currently competing in the region's upper division.
In mid-January, Team Assault was disqualified from the lower division of the Southeast Asian regional league after being found guilty of account sharing. In the context of this incident, account sharing refers to a player sharing his Dota 2 account with another player so that the latter can play in professional matches while posing as the former.
Valve has not given any statements regarding the above incidents at the time of writing.
The first season of the DPC is already in its second half of competition. The regional leagues in Europe, Southeast Asia, the CIS, North America, and South America are set to end this month. Meanwhile, the Chinese regional league will run later into mid-March as a result of a mid-season hiatus to accommodate Lunar New Year celebrations in the country.
The top teams from the upper divisions of the six regional leagues will also be competing in the upcoming ONE Esports Singapore Major, which is scheduled to run from 27 March to 4 April as an in-person LAN event.
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