November 30, 2023
In September, the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) provisionally suspended Mr. Joel Hulmlund for serious breaches of the ESIC Anti-Corruption Code (see our Statement here: Public Statement on Disciplinary Action Against Participant Joel “Joel” Holmlund – ESIC).
Notably, the provisional suspension of Mr. Holmlund, was related to his behavior while being a professional player for the team Godsent. Namely, that he had engaged in corrupt behavior contravening the ESIC Anti-Corruption Code during his participation in the BetBoom Playlist Urbanistic event, and separately in the IEM Dallas 2023 (Europe Closed Qualifier) involving Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), in the following manner:
- Between the period of 27 March 2023 to 28 March 2023, Mr. Holmlund placed bets on matches he was playing in;
- On 31 March 2023, Mr. Holmlund placed two bets against his own team in one match; and
- Between the period of 29 March 2023 to 1 May 2023, Mr. Holmlund proceeded to place 17 bets on various CS:GO matches.
As part of ESIC’s process in this matter, Mr. Holmlund was given an opportunity to provide further evidence on or before 6 October 2023, and to further cooperate with ESIC’s investigation. While Mr. Holmlund was unable to provide any evidence to the contrary of ESIC’s charges, Mr. Holmlund made significant efforts to cooperate with ESIC’s investigation.
Importantly, as a result of ESIC’s investigation, and with significant consideration of Mr. Holmlund’s cooperation, assistance, genuine contrition and commitment to seeking professional help, ESIC has concluded this investigation by issuing Mr. Holmlund with a Rejection Order spanning the period of 30 August 2023 to 6 January 2024.
This In the interest of transparency and public confidence, we are issuing this statement to inform the public about the considerations taken into account in arriving at the outcome of this matter and to provide examples of the matters and actions ESIC may consider in any future interaction with a participant under investigation or convicted of an offence under the ESIC Codes.
Assistance with Investigations:
ESIC is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and fair play in the esports industry. As part of our commitment, ESIC sometimes offer individuals under investigation, or those already convicted, the opportunity to assist in our broader investigations. This can lead to a reduction in their sanctions or, in certain cases, exemption from prosecution. In the recent investigation involving Mr. Holmlund, he provided ESIC with crucial information pertinent to various ongoing inquiries. His full and candid cooperation was helpful to ESIC’s ongoing investigations. Consequently, we have decided that a reduction in Mr. Holmlund’s suspension is warranted and aligns with the principles of fairness and justice.
ESIC encourages individuals facing investigation or sanction within the esports industry to come forward and collaborate with ESIC. By providing valuable information and aiding in our investigations, they not only contribute to the integrity and transparency of the esports industry but also stand to benefit from potential reductions in their penalties. This approach underscores our commitment to fairness and the importance of cooperative efforts in maintaining the highest ethical standards in esports. We believe that this approach not only aids in effective enforcement but also fosters a culture of responsibility and honesty among participants.
Recognition of Gambling Problems and Consequences
It became apparent early in our interactions with Mr. Holmlund that he fit the gambling industry’s definition of a problem gambler – someone who lacks control over their gambling habits and exhibits signs of addiction. Throughout his initial discussions with ESIC, where Mr. Holmlund was supported by skilled legal counsel, he acknowledged his gambling issues and agreed to pursue professional counseling and treatment. ESIC considers this behavioral issue as a significant factor contributing to Mr. Holmlund’s involvement in betting on CSGO, which was in violation of the ESIC Codes. However, Mr. Holmlund’s commitment to seek help was considered favorably when concluding on the duration of the Rejection Order issued.
Apology and Commitments to the Community
Mr. Holmlund has not only expressed his willingness to apologise to the CS and wider esports community for his actions (as detailed in his statement below and on social media), but he has also agreed to collaborate with ESIC in our participant education program. He will contribute by creating video content that highlights the risks associated with betting on one’s professional game and more broadly addresses the negative aspects of gambling, especially for those who struggle with responsible gambling. ESIC is confident that Mr. Holmlund’s involvement in this initiative will greatly benefit the esports community by enhancing understanding and management of the relationship between esports and betting on these events.
Suggestions of Match-Fixing
It has been alleged that, in addition to the betting offences committed by Mr. Holmlund, he also deliberately underperformed in order to win bets where he had bet against his own team. Upon further investigation and assessment, and in the interest of justice, ESIC wishes to clarify that there is no compelling or conclusive evidence that this is true.
The conclusion of this investigation and the corresponding Rejection Order duration will mean that Mr. Holmlund will have served an effective 7 month ban from ESIC member events, which we believe is proportionate to his original offences when looked at together with the assistance and commitments detailed above. Accordingly, he is free to play in any ESIC member event from 6th January 2024 onwards.
Statement from Mr. Holmlund
Dear Members of the Esports Community,
I am writing this statement to openly and sincerely apologize for my actions that have affected the CSGO and broader esports community. It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge my involvement in betting on professional CSGO matches, a clear violation of the ESIC Codes and the trust you placed in me as a member of this community.
Reflecting on my actions, I realize the gravity of my mistake and the negative impact it has had on the integrity of the sport we all love and cherish. My behavior was not only irresponsible but also undermined the principles of fair play and sportsmanship that are the foundation of competitive gaming.
I understand that being a professional in the esports industry carries with it a responsibility to uphold the highest standards of conduct. My actions fell short of these standards, and for that, I am truly sorry. I have let down my fans, teammates, and the entire esports community, and for this, I take full responsibility.
As part of my commitment to rectify my actions, I have agreed to participate in ESIC’s participant education program. Through this, I aim to share my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned, highlighting the dangers of betting on professional games and the broader risks associated with irresponsible gambling. I hope that by sharing my story, I can prevent others from making similar mistakes and contribute positively to the community I care deeply about.
I am currently seeking professional counseling and treatment for my gambling issues. This journey towards recovery is not just about complying with the sanctions but is a personal commitment to better myself and rebuild the trust I have lost.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and to contribute to the betterment of the esports community. Thank you for your understanding and support during this time.
ESIC’s Commitment to Integrity
ESIC remains steadfast in our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity in esports. We will continue to conduct investigations and impose sanctions when necessary to protect the integrity of the industry. We also encourage the esports community to actively participate in promoting fair play and integrity in esports. We would strongly encourage participants with knowledge of corrupt acts to come forward and talk to us. We are already discretely working with several players in addition to Joel to either indemnify them from prosecution in return for valuable information or to reduce sanctions in return for information leading to prosecution of bad actors in esports. If you know something, please consider coming forward voluntarily or face harsher sanctions when you are eventually caught.
ESIC is the recognized guardian of the integrity of esports and works to for disrupt, prevent, investigate, and prosecute of all forms of cheating and malpractice in esports, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping with the overarching objective of protecting youth, promoting industry investment and safeguarding sporting integrity in esports.
Learn more about ESIC at https://www.esic.gg