After weeks of stonewalling reporters, Heroic’s CSGO team has released an emotional 35-minute defence of the players’ and org’s actions following the revelations that their former coach, Nicolai “Hunden” Petersen, was using a bug to get an unfair advantage in competition.
Back in August 2020, independent analyst Michal Slowinski announced that some coaches were using a bug that allowed them to position their camera anywhere on the map for information. There are different versions of the bug, but at its extreme, a coach could position their camera above the enemy’s spawn at the start of a round, seeing which direction they head in.
For those wondering how this coaching bug works, here is a short clip of me being bugged on mirage, A spot. You can pick any location on the map you want. And yes, you can rotate the camera angle as much as you want. pic.twitter.com/C0CdDV9zXi
— Michal Slowinski (@michau9_) August 31, 2020
Coaches were allowed into CSGO servers during competitive play as a special accommodation during the pandemic. Normally at LAN events they’d be standing behind the players, not allowed to speak to them unless there’s a timeout.
Initially Hunden had said the Heroic players knew nothing of him using the coach bug. But after things got very, very messy (see below) he stated that certain Heroic players were in fact aware of it, and provided evidence with varying degrees of weight.
Up until now the players had agreed to remain silent as the matter was investigated by the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC).
But after Hunden’s more recent statements, public sentiment has turned against Heroic. According to the video, it got to the stage where players were afraid to go out with friends and family for fear of being approached and called a cheater. (CSGO is very popular in Denmark, enough that top players are recognised on the street.)
You can watch the video below:
What you’re seeing there is team captain Casper “Cadian” Moller in the middle, who’s a little older and more storied in the CSGO scene, eventually flanked by star players Rene “TeSeS” Madsen on the left, and Martin “stavn” Lund on the right. TeSeS in particular is implicated in the scandal after Hunden said TeSeS helped him get the bug working before a particular match.
In TeSeS’ words:
I was treated immensely badly by Hunden. He has fucked my whole reputation, which I have worked for my whole life. All of a sudden, the whole community is after me for something I didn’t do. I have sacrificed so much to be where I am today. It definitely hurt and still hurts me that Hunden accused me of something I didn’t do.
The controversy comes at the world possible time, as players would ideally be focused on the Major – CSGO‘s biggest tournament of the year – about to start in Stockholm on October 26th. This should be a period of practicing and anti-stratting, not highly public mud-slinging and litigation in the court of public opinion.
“There was no time where I thought, why would he be saying this? Why would he be calling this? There was no communication that indicated anything that he had a specific position or anything on the map. I didn’t feel like any cheating had occurred,” Cadian, Heroic’s leader, said.
There’s a long and full account of their story in the video above.
This comes days after ESIC announced former Heroic player Nikolaj “Niko” Kristensen would be lightly punished due to knowing about the use of the coach bug. Leniency was shown due to Niko admitting guilt and pleading that his ADHD and Asperger’s was taken advantage of by Hunden.
From the ESIC report:
As for the rest of Heroic, ESIC ruled that there wasn’t near enough evidence to show they knew about Hunden using the bug. That’ll allow Heroic a sigh of relief as it heads into the Major, and its new sponsorship deal with Red Bull providing additional momentum.
A few words in regards to the ESIC ruling:
1) My personal health has never been something I wanted to talk about in public. I’ve learned throughout my life and career the downsides of my diagnosis, but also the upsides and what strengths it on the other hand gives me in CS.
— Nikolaj Kristensen (@OfficialnikoCS) October 18, 2021
So How Did All This Start?
Initially, 37 coaches were found guilty of using the bug after Michal Slowinski reviewed thousands of recorded games, and more coaches would follow. Among those coaches was Hunden, who just two days prior to the revelations had helped Heroic win ESL Pro League Europe. It was found that Heroic didn’t use the bug in that tournament, but did use it for several consecutive rounds in a prior match against Astralis.
Hunden originally said the players and org knew nothing of his use of the bug. That was until rumours began that Hunden wanted to leave, and Astralis’ coach, Danny “Zonic” Sorensen, might also be departing – with Hunden as the new favourite replacement.
Another day, another Hunden controversy, as moving into the first post-pandemic LAN at IEM Cologne 2021, Hunden wasn’t present and instead the team had its new mental coach standing behind them. Heroic cited “severe trust issues” and believed Hunden had been sharing its strategies with other teams, opening legal action and contacting ESIC.
According to Hunden, this was limited to sharing anti-strat information about other teams.
Things got messy as Hunden locked Heroic out of access to their online playbook. An ESIC investigation found that these files were shared with Astralis coach Zonic, but never downloaded.
Opinion was mixed on whether sharing anti-strat information was indeed wrong, but ESIC found it against its code of conduct and banned Hunden for two years, effectively ending his CSGO career. Heroic’s legal action is still ongoing.
With nothing to lose, Hunden reversed his statement about Heroic not knowing of his use of the coaching bug. He provided server and chat logs to Danish network TV2.dk that showed that TeSeS was in-server assisting Hunden with the bug (though TeSeS maintains this was unknowingly).
The matter could have consequences for the org and players if it’s found that they continued as normal after learning of the bug’s use.
Heroic has still managed to win some tournaments since, but the controversy has undoubtedly weighed on the team that began to look unstoppable in late 2020. The real test is the upcoming Major, where it’ll be up to captain Cadian, along with Heroic’s new sports psychologist, to fortify the team’s mental resilience enough to take home the biggest trophy of the CSGO calendar.