Dozen of professional gamers caught cheating in a bid to win $2M prize

One of the world’s biggest e-sports competitions has been thrown into chaos after more than a dozen professional gamers were caught cheating in a bid to win the top prize of $2 million.

The cheaters were playing PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG) with a “radar hack” so they could watch enemy players during the online competition.

PUBG, an online multiplayer battle royale shooter, is the second-best selling PC game of all time, with an estimated 24 million copies sold worldwide.

Investigators received allegations of cheating in December after the high-level players were spotted reading data during the Global Championship qualifiers.

Teams of four from across the world compete in the competition to become the “world’s greatest” — and win a cool $2 million.

The game is a “death match” where a hundred players fight in a battle royale, where teams fight to remain alive. The last team standing wins the game.

Previous hacking attempts used methods such as “wall hacks,” “aimbots” and “extra-sensory perception” – which were easily detectable by moderators.

But the banned gamers used a virtual private network, or VPN, to anonymously read packets of opponents’ data without detection.

The data would be moved to a game server, where it was unpacked and fed into a separate program allowing cheats to watch it from their phone.

Four professionals were caught in December, alongside ten last week — and a further two who refused to give up the cheats.

The hack allowed players to view their opponent’s location on a separate screen to the one they played on.

Moderators scanned their files for a specific address after a tip-off, searched for a particular phrase to the trigger, and discovered a match.

PUBG began a massive wave of bans related to the cheats booting over regular 30,000 players off their servers before Christmas.

The 16 professionals were suspended from the game for three years after experts discovered their “unauthorized programs use.”

The cheating system was described by competition organizers as severely damaging the integrity of the game, which is one of the world’s most competitive electronic sports.

Players included in the December scandal include Christian Narvaez, Liam Tran, Tyler Sti and Mark Formaro.

Other affected teams must now replace suspended players if they look to stand a chance of being allowed to continue in the competition.

Earlier this week, 10 more professionals were caught and suspended, along with two others who kept quiet on the cheats.

The game will now launch “comprehensive background check on all their accounts” before players can enter future competitions.

Özgür Develi, a competitive PUBG player with his team Snglesports, said that many teams are still waiting for an explanation on the “cheaters.”

He wrote online: “Innocent people are waiting for an explanation from the gods about the cheaters that are still registered for contender qualifiers.”

A spokesman for PUBG Esports said: “Through a global investigation of currently active competitive players, we discovered that ten players have received in-game bans due to the usage of an unauthorized program.”

“Our team has taken the time to ensure that a proper investigation was conducted regarding these permanent in-game bans.”

“The investigation revealed conclusive evidence the players were all detected using an unauthorized third party software during public matches and the NPL Online Qualifiers earlier in December.”

“Per the results of our investigation, all players will be banned from all official standings from the NPL Online Qualifiers Round 3 which took between December 15 and 16, 2018.”

“In the future, players found to have been banned in-game due to the use of unauthorized programs during professional esports competitions will be banned from competitive play.”

“This will be for a minimum of three years to a maximum of a lifetime starting on the date of completion of an official league investigation.”

The spokesman added: “Cheating in a professional competition is one of the least sportsmanlike behaviors that a pro player can exhibit.”

“We are issuing one of the severest penalties we have ever issued, in order to match our zero-tolerance policy on cheating.”

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