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Counter-Strike match fixing results in more pro player bans for $250K tournament

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Valve has issued a new round of bans to pro Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players in advance of next month's ESL tournament in Katowice, Poland, according to an announcement from the eSports league. Citing evidence of match-fixing, three teams and 14 players have been disqualified from the ESL One CS:GO qualifiers while five more players are under investigation.

In a statement, Valve said it's directing its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event partners to restrict players from teams Epsilon eSports, ex-ESC Gaming and WinneR from participating in Valve-sponsored events. Valve says the effective bans levied against the players and teams "are indefinite, and will not be re-evaluated before 2016."

Epsilon eSports, ex-ESC Gaming and WinneR were set to compete in an offline qualifier for ESL One Katowice 2015 next week. Teams LGB eSports and 3DMAX will take WinneR's spot in the qualifier, while a last-minute replacement tournament will determine which teams get Epsilon and ex-ESC's spot.

ESL One's Counter-Strike: GO tournament carries a $250,000 prize pool. The tournament will take place in Katowice, Poland from March 12-15.

Last month, Valve issued a similar round of bans to CS:GO players after evidence of match-fixing came to light between teams iBUYPOWER and Valve posted a warning to pro Counter-Strike players on the game's official site, urging them not to participate in gambling on matches, associate with "high volume CS:GO gamblers" or provide gamblers with information that might influence their bets.

"It's important to consider the substantial impact an individual professional Counter-Strike player has on the health and stability of the sport," Valve said. "Performing before an audience of millions of fans, you are ambassadors for your game — the strength of professional Counter-Strike comes from the integrity of its players and teams."

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