Singapore clinch first-ever gold in esports at SEA Games 2023, but not without controversy
Note: This article was first published on 11 May 2023.
Singapore's Valorant team experienced a bittersweet victory at the SEA Games on Thursday, as they secured a historic e-sports gold medal, which was later marred by controversy.
The gold was awarded to Singapore when Indonesia forfeited the Mixed Valorant (PC) team event final on Wednesday night, causing an uproar among Indonesian fans.
The Singaporean team, consisting of Ayrton "artn" Soh, Yeoh "Divine" Chun Ting, Ingram "FREY" Tan, Marcus "nephh" Tan, Rodman "vera" Yap, and Tidus "STYRON" Goh, had won the first game 13-8 in the best-of-three series at Olympia Mall. They were ahead 10-4 in the second game when play was halted due to a disagreement.
Indonesia lodged a complaint claiming Singapore had exploited a Cypher bug to see the opposing team's positions. The grand final was postponed indefinitely following hours of deliberation.
Initially, Singapore was awarded the gold medal on Thursday after a walkover. However, about 1½ hours later, both teams were declared joint gold medalists.
Before the final decision, Goh disclosed that he had received threats on social media. In a tweet, he wrote, "We read the rules, we obeyed every TO (technical official) decision to rollback or play on, we waited and we are still labeled cheaters, what a way to take away every honour the medal carries."
The Singapore Esports Association's Instagram page was inundated with angry comments from Indonesian fans accusing the Singaporean team of cheating. One user, novintt, wrote, "All Indonesian supporters waiting all of u guys… We wait at main gate Olympia mall. Just want to show u the real fairness."
Singapore had previously defeated Indonesia, Cambodia, and Malaysia in the group stage, securing the third seed position. They secured a place in the final after a 2-0 victory over Vietnam in the semi-finals on Wednesday, having lost to them by two points in the opening match.
Singapore had previously come close to winning gold, with Thomas Kopankiewicz securing silver in Starcraft II in 2019, and the women's team finishing second in the League of Legends: Wild Rift event in 2022.
Valorant, a first-person tactical-hero shooter game, made its debut at the SEA Games this year.
(Update: Mr RizalTaufiqurrafi, incharge of public relations and communications for the Esports Federation of Indonesia has shared an official statement. We are sharing it verbatim below.)
Official Statement from Esports Federation of Indonesia
Sportsmanship and fairness are key values that we and the entire ecosystem should aspire to at all times. Violation of these values, as well as of integrity, are intolerable in the grand scheme of the sport. Tonight, at the Grand Finals of the Valorant Event, part of the Esports Events at the 32nd SEA Games Cambodia 2023, we found irrefutable evidence of a breach of rules committed by the Singaporean National Team for Valorant.
During the match, the Singaporean National Team was discovered exploiting a certain bug in the game, called a camera agent cypher, which provided unfair advantage by exposing the movements of the Indonesian National Team among others. This bug was used three times at the Split Map, going against both the Technical Handbook and the rules agreed upon at the technical meeting.
We have lodged an official protest to the organizers and we encourage everyone to respect and uphold the values that form the foundation of our sport: integrity, fairness, and sportsmanship. We reject and denounce – with unwavering resolve – actions and behavior that tarnish the ethical principles of esports, sports in general, and those of the SEAGamesitself.
We at PB ESI, the Esports Federation of Indonesia, consider this act of cheating equivalent to doping and should be defined asdigitaldoping. We must remember that esports still needs to gain world recognition. The values of sportsmanship, fairness, and integrity are important factors that must be agreed upon and implemented by esports players around the world. Therefore, our stance is firm: we oppose all actions against sportsmanship, fairness, and integrity, and we believe those who have violated these values should be given the harshestsanctions.
We have also reached out to Riot Games and theSingapore Esports Association for comments.
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