Threats and shared gold after cheating row rocks esports final at SEA Games 2023
An esports final at the Southeast Asian Games has been rocked by cheating allegations that led to the gold medal being shared between two countries on Thursday.
Singapore and Indonesia were jointly awarded gold but instead of basking in victory some players reported receiving online threats.
The dispute arose during a final for the first-person shooter Valorant in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on Wednesday.
Indonesia’s players complained to officials that their opponents were using an in-game camera which allowed them to track players’ movements, saying it was not allowed under the rules.
Singapore disputed the tactic was not permitted, leading to players and officials wrangling over the rules well into the early hours.
Singaporean player Tidus Goh said on Twitter that they had “played by the rules that were conveyed to us”.
He and teammate Marcus “nephh” Tan reported receiving threats online over the furor.
A Thursday morning restart of the final was agreed upon, with a points penalty for Singapore.
But when play looked set to finally resume, Indonesia said they would forfeit the match, saying it was unfair the rules had not been made clear.
Eventually, the SEA Games Federation ruled that the gold medal would be shared.
“A lot of this came up from a lot of miscommunication,” Indonesia head coach Yohannes Paraloan Siagian told AFP.
“We have nothing against our opponents,” he added.
“It was more that we felt that the way this event was being run did not make for a fair, balanced playing field.”
Explaining the joint gold, the coach said he thought the SEA Games had opted for a solution “that caused the least amount of distress all round”.
When the medals were awarded — along with joint bronzes for the Philippines and Vietnam — the Singapore players were not on the podium, having flown back home.
A spokesperson for the Singapore National Olympic Council said it accepted the decision and congratulated Indonesia on the joint victory.
“We are pleased to win Singapore’s first gold medal in esports,” it added.
Frengky Ong, secretary general of the Esports Federation of Indonesia, said: “We accepted the joint-golds decision by considering our commitment to respect the brotherhood between countries which SEA Games upholds strongly.”
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