"Knock-knock." "Who's there?" "Counter-Strike police. Open your door. We're here to inspect your computer for cheats."
Pro Counter-Strike has a cheating problem. Dishonesty and illegal tools have cast a dark cloud over a bright, growing spectator sport. This, though, might be the most intense solution proposed yet: random testing ala physical sports, but for video games. It's almost funny how serious it is, but for competitive league Faceit and the pros competing in their events, it's no laughing matter.
The new anti-cheat policy from Faceit, which only shows up in rule books given to pros competing via the service, started making the rounds recently. I got in touch with Faceit, and they verified that it is, in fact, real. Here's what it says:
"All players may be subject to visits from FACEIT admins to inspect their computers for cheats and/or observe them playing an official match. Inspections may happen at random and may not necessarily suggest a suspicion of cheating. To be clear, what we're saying is we may turn up at your house. Yes, we are serious."
So basically, it's the eSports equivalent of random drug testing for things like steroids. Computer steroids. If players refuse to let Faceit carry out their test, odds are they won't be competing any time soon.
Granted, there are still some big potential problems here. Foremost, there's the question of how often and to what extent Faceit will actually enforce what could quickly become a costly, time-consuming rule. On top of that, Counter-Strike cheats have proven extremely difficult to detect in the past, with creators working hard to stay multiple steps ahead of cheat detection methods. As Na'Vi player Denis "seized" Kostin put it in a brief chat with Fragbite:
"For me it's funny because people have played with cheats on stage, and an agent will come to their house and watch the match to find cheats no one saw on stage. I think the bans made the cheats even more secret, and if people are still cheating, finding them will be extremely difficult."
Some players have alleged that cheats are primarily stored on USB drives, making them easy to stow, flush down a toilet, or hurriedly bury in the soils of a decorative desk plant should an agent show up.
It is, in other words, not really a guarantee of anything—hardly a silver bullet to the multi-headed hydra beast that is cheating. It's a big gesture on paper, but the best thing I've seen come out of gestures and paper is a cool origami figure of a bird. For now, I think it's best to remain skeptical. We'll see what happens.
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