Counter-Strike Pros Refuse To Play After Former Cheater Joins Team

Illustration for article titled Counter-Strike Pros Refuse To Play After Former Cheater Joins Team

Back in 2014, Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian was cut from a major CSGO team called Titan after he got VAC banned for using a cheat program out of competition. The team collapsed not long after. At the time, he remorsefully declared his career “over.” Now he’s back, and people aren’t happy about that.


Recently, an organization called Vexed announced that KQLY will be playing for them during the upcoming ESL France event. Now, players who’ve received VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) bans aren’t allowed to compete in Valve-run majors, but ESL recently instituted a controversial rule that allows red-handed rule-breakers to rejoin the fray after serving two-year suspensions. So Vexed, a relative unknown, picked up KQLY, a former heavyweight of the scene.

A handful of pros, including two members of Vexed, are not pleased. Steve “Jarod” Cohen and Léonard “SmyLi” Michelino are refusing to play altogether.

“We were not informed of this decision that was imposed to us,” they said in a statement translated by FlickShot. “We were informed of it right before the official announcement. We cannot imagine ourselves working with someone that has harmed, to the extent that he has, the competitive integrity of CS. We therefore disassociate ourselves from this decision that we deem unethical. @vexedjarod and myself have informed @Vexed_GG that we wish to be benched.”

Shortly after, Vexed also lost a coach/analyst who similarly objected to the decision.


Kevin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans, who was a member of KQLY’s old team Titan before it kerploded, also chimed in on Twitter. “Genius move from @Vexed_GG with @KQLY_ ,” he wrote. “Good luck and have fun to find players and sponsors in the future who will want to work with you.”

Longtime CSGO pro Spencer “Hiko” Martin gave his two cents as well, pointing to what he believes to be something of a double standard. “He gets VAC banned, but he can join a team?” he said during a stream. “My boy [Braxton “swag” Pierce] throws a match, and he’s banned for life, but KQLY literally cheats in the game, and he comes back? I guess he can’t play Valve events.”


So basically, it’s a big mess. Should cheaters even be allowed to come back after serving suspensions? And when they do, should fans and other players give them a second chance? Multiple years off your career is a steep price to pay, one that’s considered enough in many other sports. But is it steep enough to dissuade people from cheating in the first place? Or should esports go with a zero tolerance policy? At the moment, there’s no universal standard. There’s a case to be made that people—especially young people, which most esports competitors are—make mistakes, and they learn and grow over time. But also fuck cheating. That’s a very convincing case you could make, too.

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.



While I’m all for cheaters getting punished and the community policing itself, from this article it seems this guy cheated in a non-competitive scene. As in this guy was fucking about with the cheat in his personal time and was banned for it promptly. Yea he was ruining the game for those he faced at the time and the VAC ban was his own fault.

Not sure I can say this guy is the scum of the earth like these other players are when his action wasn’t done for personal profit. In contrast, the guy who was accused for throwing a match was dealing in a competitive for-profit scene.

If they want to ban him from playing that’s fine and up to their policy, but in this case it simply doesn’t seem like the WORST scenario imaginable. I guess the moral is “Just don’t cheat”.