Tonight it came to my attention that the SC2Improve Winter Series may be being used as a front for illegal betting in Korea. Over the past week there has been more and more talk about illegal betting and I was already slightly worried about the Winter Series potentially being involved. With the revelations tonight I have decided it is safest to cut all attachments to our sponsor for the Winter Series.
The sponsor approached me after I casted the Connsi Christmas League in December. He asked me if I would run an event for him and he proposed the format of the Winter Series. I knew that these guys had been the sponsors of the previous Connecting Slovenia tournament as well and so I knew they paid prizes for the events they sponsored, which was the main concern for me going into this sponsorship.
The set-up is very similar to what others have described for the illegal betting. He asked to observe in-game, which is something I knew they previously did for the Connecting Slovenia tournaments, and asked for a five minute delay to be set (which is less than what other tournaments have been running on, apparently.) Personally I found both requests fairly reasonable, though I didn't really know why they wanted to be in the game I assumed they just wanted to be around should something happen or perhaps they were collecting the replays. The delay I found to be perfectly reasonable as well. Usually I run SC2ITL broadcasts with a 2-3 minute delay, but a 5 minute delay for a larger tournament with a higher prize pool at stake seemed fair.
The last thing I thought would come of this would be a betting scandal - but now that the problem has been highlighted it seems obvious that this is what it is. I don't believe match fixing was a part of this, but it is something that I cannot be sure about as the sponsor did provide about half of the players who took part in the competition.
I am more than happy to talk in more detail with anybody who has the need for information and you can contact me via the website you are reading this statement on.
Going forward I do not want this to be something we dwell on. Starcraft is a game I love and which I have a lot of passion for, which is why I spend hours every week running SC2Improve, organizing tournaments and casting matches. As time goes by it's heartbreaking to see that we are hit by wave after wave of negativity and I'm sure this latest drama is going to hit hard.
I have decided I will run the rest of the SC2Improve Winter Series from my own pocket, with a decreased prize pool of $1000 for the main final event (which was originally going to be $3000). There will be no in-game observers apart from me. This Tuesday we will have Week 6 of the competition and the players who advance in first and second will be payed the $150 and $50 respectively as in previous groups. For Weeks 7 & 8 I will be running the groups purely as qualifiers into the main event, without a prize. I might even change it to be an open-bracket qualifier, as I know there was a lot of interest from players to take part who have not had the chance. More information will be posted soon.