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Investigation: ESEA caught being shaddy again!
As we all know, ESEA was caught illegally using their user's computers to mine bitcoins. Some of these users have complained about damage to their hardware. In response, Craig 'Torbull' Levine issued a statement that said "We also ask anyone who has experienced any physical damage to their computers to open an ESEA support ticket." Fastforward a few days, ESEA Premium member pissjugs posts a screenshot of a reponse from Levine that says the affected computer would need to be shipped to PC Werks in Garland, Texas. Going to the PC Werks website, one will notice two different phone numbers. The first, 214-658-8352, located in the top righthand corner and the second, 214-341-2852, located in the homepage promotion banner. After Googling the second number, one will find that this is also the same number as an organization called Lethal Gamers. If one goes to the Lethal Gamer's contact page, one will find two email addresses. One is [email protected] and the other is [email protected]. After Googling Lethal Gamers, one will find this ESEA News post about an upcoming Lethal Gamers lan event. Reading through the comments on ESEA, one will learn that Lethal Gamers is run by two guys named Brett and Laurent. Specifically in post #55, ESEA Administrator iTech links to Brett's and Laurent's ESEA profiles. Looking at Brett's ESEA profile you'll notice he goes by B 'Few' S and if you look at his biography you'll also notice that he has been working for ESEA News since 2010. Furthermore, you'll also notice that both Brett 'Few' S and Laurent 'glostik' Genin are both mutual friends with Craig 'Torbull' Levine and Eric 'lpkane' Thunberg on ESEA. So as it stands, we've uncovered that Levine is attempting to get users to ship their computers to a computer repair store that has affiliation with ESEA employees and most likely is staffed by ESEA employees, talk about a conflict of interest. However, let's not stop there. Let's look into some of Laurent 'glostik' Genin's and Brett 'Few' S's comments on the bitcoin matter. Here is a post made by Laurent 'glostik' Genin that reads "I am just wondering how you are going to prove without a shadow of a doubt that your video card was fried by the esea client. In the world of electronics that is going to be near impossible." After I contacted ESEA management about the issue, Laurent 'glostik' Genin responded in the Bitcoin Fiasco thread saying "That PC Shop hes asking you to send stuff to is the same one thats run LethalGamers for 12 yrs. They have always supported the gamers and done alot for the gamers. If theres something legitly wrong with your stuff, they are going to tell you. They are not biased towards anyone." tl;dr - Torbull is telling users that they would need to ship their PC's to a computer repair shop that has affiliation with ESEA employees and is most likely staffed by ESEA employees. These same employees have commented on ESEA saying the issues are "near impossible" to prove. This is a major conflict of interest. Imagine if you got into a car accident and the person that hit you wanted you to take your car to their uncle's bodyshop but without telling you it's their uncle's. This situation is no different. EDIT: This morning, Torbull released a statement on the bitcoin claim process EDIT2: ESEA user The_jorster recounts his positive experience with the recourse process.
For those who are not familiar with ESEA, you can find more information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESEA_League For those who have heard of ESEA as a service, I am confident that they have also heard of the Bitcoin mining incident. You can find more information about it, although the spicy details have been deleted from Youtube, however I happen to have the files on my PC. That's not why we are here today. We are here to show you that this is still the same poor, greedy service as the one last year and the years before, its protagonist being Eric "lpkane" Thunberg, the usual suspect and,accidentally, owner of ESEA. Two days ago, this topic was created: http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=news&d=comments&id=13817. "Rather than further nickel and dime everyone, I dusted off an old concept that we started working on in 2009 dubbed ESEA Insider. Building on that, we've created a new account tier that gives users higher account limits, greater interaction with top pros, and the chance to stand out from the crowd." he quotes. In reality, besides the new ugly star icons, this offers nothing but features that premium subscribers already deserve and have actually been promised to aquire. It deliberately forces the community to upgrade their premium service, as their service clearly focuses on improving "Insider", rather than improving the gaming experience for the huge base of basic premium users. That being said, their service suffers from a number of issues, I will address the most important ones here,
Flawed kick system for pugs: Forces one person to be responsible for kicking others, leads to constant abuse, both from the pug moderator and from other players. Since the .kick list is quite vague and miss other, fundamental reasons to kick someone, trolls get away with it. Let's give an example. Reason to kick someone: "A player repeatedly slashes you with his knife and reveals your position." However, a player in-game decides to use his pistol or rifle to reveal your position. As a pug moderator, you kick the person responsible. That person creates a support ticket, stating that he didn't use his knife to reveal your position etc. Result? You are banned, he is not. It happens every day, trust me.
Flawed support system: If you open a support ticket, it rarely has the outcome you expect. Especially for suggestions to improve the subscribers' overall experience, you get a blatant "no", unless lpkane is in a good mood. Sometimes a bald guy named Tim is going to redirect you to forum's rules and warn you that abusing the support system leads to a ban.
Pug-leaves. This has been mentioned around 10 times, the ones I counted since I'm sure more people have mentioned it. As soon as you leave a pug, either disconnecting due to internet problems or due to CSGO crashing (and it does crash often), you get an instant -k and your slot is available to anyone. Which leads you to get a pug-leave ban as well. Take into account that karma plays a vital role in someone's reputation, his chance of being pug moderator (mod is chosen based on karma) and if a user has karma below -50 he can't join any pugs. Sounds cool, right? Deffinately something you pay to experience, right?
ESEA client. Not only it does more than you think it does but, there seems to be no point. Multiple cheaters are not being caught, the ones who are caught are usually banned before Play-offs, after having destroyed the entire Season. Rumor has it that even a 5$ product was bypassing their client for three months, not to mention other cheat providers dominating them for 1+ year. Doesn't look like the 7$ / m for a cheat-free environment are justified here, do they?
Now, in a community that is filled with trolls and other immature subjects, it's common for an admin to be strict. However, being strict has nothing to do with being abusive. There are countless reports of an admin banning a player from ESEA for just stating a different opinion than their own. Guess what, this happened today, again, with lpkane being responsible for it. Read through this entire thread: http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=forums&d=topic&id=566924. Users who got banned: http://play.esea.net/users/353647 , http://play.esea.net/users/653359 , http://play.esea.net/users/346341 (who is accidentally starting the thread). Long story short, these three users are stating that Insider is taking features that premium already should provide and that ESEA is greedy asking for more. Which is something a lot of users agree to and support it by refusing to purchase "Insider" premium. Lpkane on the other hand insists on saying that this money will serve as his fuel for his trips with his plane to Carribean islands and that his progress throughout the years is solid evidence that he has the right to do pretty much whatever he wants, without listening to others. That would of course be why he was in court for infecting his own customers and using their machines to mine bitcoins. Or maybe just a coincidence. Bottomline is, once he was cornered to reveal his true intentions about project "Insider", he got nervous and banned everyone, under the reason "malicious activity". Last time I checked the dictionary, the term "malicious activity" is not connected in any way to what happened here. He simply shuts anyone's mouth at any time, banning them (and their IDs) from his client. That's how Eric "lpkane" Thunberg takes care of "his" problems. In order for him to jastify his action, he labeled them all "unsatisfied customers" and "refunded" them their 7$, before of course banning them. Now, if he wanted to let someone unsubscribe, he could just let it happen, I suppose? Or maybe refund them, without banning them. Banlist also shows that a large number of "premium" customers chargebacked and took their money back, being totally unsatisfied with ESEA service. They all received a 1 year ban and -100 karma penalty, since a user quotes "lpakne is going to collect". Well, he certainly did.. not. Bottomline is, the guy shows his true face once more and dooms people that dare question him and his intentions in a proper, polite manner, within their legal boundaries, inside ESEA's forum. I certainly wouldn't want to be labeled as "banned" from any league and be forbidden to enter as a way to make me feel better. Doesn't really make sense, does it? Funny thing is, lpkane deliberately did this and was aware that it may be posted on reddit later on (or somewhere else). Being the charming, sarcastic fellow we know him to be at his 30's, he quotes "say hi to reddit from me". So, I'd like the Reddit community know that Eric "lpkane" Thunberg says "hi", he is aware and satisfied with his service being on the spotlight for all the wrong reasons once more and he certainly doesn't give a damn as he did last time. Of course that was before the law-suit and ehm.. some money that was to be paid and... and some tiny damage to their reputation, if there was any left. If you are a premium ESEA user, you have anough evidence to think twice about extending your subscription. If you are a regular user registered there, head over and read the links I provided and be aware of what's really happening over there, because you may hear the word "progress" a lot, yet there never seems to be any. If you are just browsing reddit and found yourselves reading this report topic, let everyone know about it. I'm not here to tell you to stay away, escpecially for Americans that's a tough decision since CEVO is the only other option. However, since ESEA wants to expand in Europe, we can inform you all about what's coming for your 7$ / m. Choice is yours. ps: Apologies for any grammar mistakes, English is not my native language.
Following his resignation as president of FIFA and his subsequent 6-year ban from footballing activities news about Mr Blatters post-FIFA intentions has been scarce, however, we can now announce that Mr Blatter has invested $37,135,500 into ESL gaining a controlling stake in the company. When asked about this investment and his withdrawal from the footballing world Mr Blatter had the following to say, “Quite frankly I have become disillusioned by the state of the footballing world and have seen nothing but great things coming from the eSports scene and ESL in the past few weeks”. This investment into ESL and the eSports world is not a surprise as Mr Blatter has known links to ESEA creator and Turtle Entertainment co-owner Eric "lpkane" Thunberg, and was a keen supporter of its client upheaval in 2013, stating that “ESEA needed to adapt to the changing market of CS:GO and its involvement in bitcoins showed a very future heavy outlook”. Mr Blatter also said he was hopeful to be work with Ben “broesser” Roesser again following Mr Roesser’s time interning with FIFA’s video and marketing department. This investment has come at a good time for ESL following their recent creation of an organisation focused solely on improving the CS:GO scene, CS:GO events, and aiding players in contract disputes and other such issues, something that Mr Blatter has a lot of experience in during his time as FIFA president. ESL CEO Ralf Reichart added that he hoped that this investment would “legitimise and increase the reputation of ESL around the world” adding that “Mr Blatter’s experience as FIFA president will undoubtedly help steer ESL in the right direction”. Of course, such an announcement is bound to be met with criticism with some suggesting that such an investment could tarnish the reputation of Mr Blatter, however, this has been shot down by both parties as well as by NiP CEO and WESA board member Hicham Chahine who stated that “ESL is nothing but the most respectable organisation” and that he hopes to get closer to Mr Blatter during the team owners holiday to Panama paid for by ESL.
[ESEAGate] The problem isn't that ESEA is an 'intrusive' Anti-Cheat. It always was.
So there has been a lot of talk as of late around why there are hordes of /GlobalOffensive users calling for the blood of ESEA, and this is often being called out along the lines of: "The community is never happy, you guys asked for an intrusive AC, and now you get one you whinge and moan and throw your toys out of the cot." This is not the reason that I and many are others are frustrated with ESEA to the point of unsubbing. Many of us are perfectly fine with an intrusive Anti-Cheat (it already was, it ran at an Admin level). The issue with ESEA releasing an "instrusive" Anti-Cheat is two-fold:
These two issues combined have angered a lot of people in the community. The onus is on Lpkane in this situation to clear the air and give us some guarantees on what the client does. Though there are some people who are conspiracy theorists who are simply not re-subbing or subbing due to the nature of the new AC (which in effect is just expanding the time-frame that it runs in, not what it's capable of doing), the majority of us from what I can tell are more concerned with the lack of transparency and respect from the ESEA management, namely lpkane, which to a lot of people seems very fishy (myself included). tl;dr the intrusive aspect of the AC is not our problem, it's the lack of transparency and respect on the part of lpkane to instill confidence in the community after the last debacle is.
The year is 2025. I took my hover chair to ESEA LAN. I walk in the doors. Theres a line of people, with a sign pointing to a door that says "surgery in progress". I walk up to the lady at the desk asking where I can enter the LAN. She says go stand in the line. I stand in the line. Five hours pass. I'm tired and thirsty. Finally it's my turn. I walk in the door and theres an operating table. On the side of the table there are tiny chips. Each one has a label on it. "Anti-cheat" it read. I dozed off into sleep. I woke up, with a throbbing headache. Suddenly LPKane was standing infront of me. He pointed to the bicycle. "PEDAL!" he said, "or I'll ban you!". I step on the bicycle. Still with a huge headache. I start peddling. "FASTER!" he yells. I look at the monitor, and see showers. Showers of bitcoins. Three hours of peddling later LPKane finally tells me I have gained entry into the LAN. I walk through the open doors. At the computers I see team YouSellElectricity with their new lineup: ZAK, Steal, FaZeD, Swagg, and Skuduudle. They all look special, like they have down syndrome. I look above me and read the huge sign. CEVO LAN. EDIT: Thanks for the gold!
So the ESEA client would mine bitcoins on computers without the owners consent. http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=forums&d=topic&id=492102 ESEA admins even admitted it.... I don't trust esea after this. renalucario 's post in /gameshttp://www.reddit.com/Games/comments/1dglil/popular_competitive_gaming_league_esea_admins/ Note that this story is still developing: ESEA Statement has been released! Full post at the bottom of this post or click here to read on esea.net ESEA Member unisolsz discovered that the client required to play on ESEA was running a bitcoin miner. After players were complaining about virus alerts being set off from the client and unusually high GPU usage and BSOD errors. The thread he made regarding this can be found here ESEA admin, lpkane admits that it was an "April Fools joke" that was mistakenly left in the client that ran for only 2 days. He claims only 2 bitcoins were mined in total (Roughly around $280 USD) and that it would go towards a prize pool. Source He later corrects that it was running for 2+ weeks and actually raised 29~ bitcoins (around $3,602.21 USD) and to apologize awarded all current ESEA premium members a free month of service and that all the money raised will go into the prize pool. He also claims that all bitcoin mining code was removed from the client. Source #2 Bitcoin miners use up 100% of GPU processes and lead to a lowered hardware lifespan, and can actually damage it permanently. Link to /GlobalOffensive discussion: http://www.reddit.com/GlobalOffensive/comments/1dgad2/esea_client_basically_a_virus/ UPDATE: Someone has pointed out that the bitcoin address that lpkane posted a picture of in his first post is different compared to the address he lists in his second post. Very strange... UPDATE #2: I should clarify that no one that was affected lost any money of their own. It was a poor choice of words for me to say that he 'stole' the money. I was referring to the fact that people that were affected most likely saw an increase in electricity usage, and could possibly have had their computer's hardware damaged. Their computers were used without their consent to 'mine' currency, all of which went to the ESEA admins. UPDATE #3: I was contacted by GGTY886 that informed me that he had posted a thread regarding the mining two hours before unisolsz had posted his that was locked by an admin. Located here There is also a thread located here by a user that discusses the symptoms of the miner. He also sent me a recording of a conversation with an ESEA admin discussing the issue which can be listened to here: The Recording His PM in full in case you're interested: I actually posted a thread before unisolz that actually exposed the bitcoin mining. http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=forums&d=topic&id=492064 I posted 2 hours before his thread, and my thread was locked. Also, one day prior, this guy posted about the symptoms of the mining: http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=forums&d=topic&id=491845 recording with ESEA Admin: http://play.esea.net/index.php?s=forums&d=topic&id=492190 UPDATE #4: Others have pointed out that this isn't the first time lpkane has mentioned mining bitcoins through the ESEA client: http://i.imgur.com/yvMX2DY.png Source UPDATE #5: In a thread dated 4/9/2013, lpkane posts in a thread discussing bitcoins: and you wonder what the client does when you're not in a server.. Source post #23 UPDATE #6: If you've been affected by this, you can file a complaint to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): https://www.ic3.gov With this information: E-Sports Entertainment, LLC 62 Rensselaer Drive, Commack, New York, 11725, 631-804-5253 UPDATE #7: Another image that was requested to be added to the OP showing lpkane's comments on bitcoin mining on September 18th, 2012. http://i.imgur.com/SrhyF8d.png UPDATE #8: Craig Levine "Torbull" (owner of ESEA) has posted this statement on the forums regarding the situation: The first I learned about any of this was last night (on any scale). I had no idea any of this was going on. Needless to say I am completely embarrassed, disgusted, and ashamed. For the past ten years, I've tried to do nothing more than to act honestly and be an upstanding leader in the gaming community and with some bad decisions by some trusted people it has been thrown out the window. I'm wrapping my mind around this whole thing and we'll release a formal response, but for the time being just know that this wasn't some ESEA / company wide scam. I'm committed to doing whatever possible to rebuild the trust we lost through this whole fiasco. Source Post #608 Some more information from Craig: Post #632: It's a failure on my part to have the proper oversight to have prevented this from happening and it will be addressed. My primary concern at this point is community trust and how that was destroyed. We need to understand the situation, take the appropriate action with those responsible for it, ensure we have things in place to prevent this from happening, and address anyone who incurred physical damages. How we rebuild the trust of the community in the immediate aftermath and long term future is going to be a different discussion that we need to have as I walk through this all. Post #710: Standby for a more formal response with information about the situation and recourse for those impacted. Post #742: the facts of the situation are beyond what has been shared to this point. We're going to do everything in our power to address the issue of what happened, the broken trust with the community, and any physical hardware damage. Information coming soon, but this is obviously something we take incredibly serious. Post #802: the money will be going somewhere much more righteous than the prize purse in addition to the prize purse Post #810: why would we risk our business and livelihood on making some inconsequential amount of money on Bitcoins I assure you that I and the larger ESEA entity had no knowledge of this. We're working to figure out what happened to respond accordingly. Post #829: His (lpkane's) response there was done more playfully than seriously. We would never knowingly allow this to be done to our community and I'm looking into all of the details for how this happened. Post #886: We will be setting up a mechanism to address anyone who's computer parts were damaged through this process UPDATE #9: PrincessChoadzilla has posted a analysis of the three bitcoin addresses ESEA admins used to collect the bitcoins here and found that there has been 1 bitcoin that is still not accounted for by lpkane. IMPORTANT UPDATE: ESEA Statement has been released: Throughout the history of gaming and e-sports, there have been scams and straight up theft by players, teams, event organizers, and even “sponsors.” Over the past ten years ESEA has prided itself on being an upstanding member of the gaming community by providing a high quality service, paying out prize money, and being upfront and transparent with you, the community. We worked hard to build your trust and often took the longer, slower, and more meticulous road than others. That approach has paid off as we had success with our premium service and league. Over the two weeks we failed our community. ESEA’s goal is to provide our community with cutting edge technology and tools. Whenever possible, the management and owners at ESEA initiate private tests on potential new products and tools that might interest our community. With the whole fervor around Bitcoin, we did conduct some internal tests with the Client on only two of our own, consenting administrators’ accounts to see how the mining process worked and determine whether it was a feature that we might want to add in the future. We thought this might be an exciting new tool that we could provide to our community. Ultimately, we decided that it was not. On April 13, 2013, after the initial tests, ESEA informed those involved in the test that we were killing the project and they should stop using the beta test. It came to our attention last night, however, that an employee who was involved in the test has been using the test code for his own personal gain since April 13, 2013. What transpired the past two weeks is a case of an employee acting on his own and without authorization to access our community through our company’s resources. We are extremely disappointed and concerned by the unauthorized actions of this unauthorized individual. As of this morning, ESEA has made sure that all Bitcoin mining has stopped. ESEA is also in the process of taking all necessary steps internally to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. The owners and management at ESEA all apologize to each of you that were impacted by the recent events and intend to make things right. ESEA has issued a free month of ESEA Premium to all of our community members who were enrolled in Premium for the month of April. We also ask anyone who has experienced any physical damage to their computers to open an ESEA support ticket. In an effort to maintain complete transparency, we have released all of the Bitcoin wallet addresses as well as data dumps of the wallets themselves. The value of the mined Bitcoins was $3,713.50 and ESEA will be donating 100% of the $3,713.55 to the American Cancer Society. ESEA will also match 100% of this amount for a total of $7,427.10 donated. ESEA is also increasing the Season 14 League prize pot by $3,713.50. As a team, we work hard to create cool things and we’ve worked even harder to consistently do things the right way. While it’s incredibly disturbing and disappointing that this happened, we’re committed to improving ourselves and rebuilding trust with our community.
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