Let’s begin with some questions and answers.
1) What is this ‘bet-fix scandal’? – To my knowledge, there are one or two legal sports betting methods in Korea, and eSports is not part of it, or at least not yet. There are people that run and operate illegal websites to make it possible to bet in eSports in Korea. They have been reaching out to streamers to run more “events” on their websites, without telling the streamer, or I at the very least, so that more betting can occur. Once “an event” is live, they fix and rig bets using delays to lure some betters to lose and some betters to win purposely to make money for their “investors”.
2) Should I have known about the existence of shady businesses? – Yes. I was educated on the existence of such acts before I began my streaming ventures. I was told specifically what they are like so I can watch out for scums.
3) Why did I say 3hr 24min into day 2 of “MAL presents: The Beginning” where ToD asks who is this other guy and I responded with “it’s the sponsor, and he wished to watch game live” and so on? – When I was being educated on the subject, I was told to be suspicious over anybody approaching me with their wishes to sponsor a tournament while requesting for broadcast methods out of the norm, such as stream delay to be set over the standard 3-5 minute delay, and intervening with format including player invites with observing. To make myself clear, I came up with the format, I was fully in charge of inviting the players. When my “Sponsor (PHS Company, or PHS)” approached, all he asked was to set 5 minute delay to abide by the standards and that he gets to observe as he is a big StarCraft II fan and it would be cool for him to do so. I did question myself, and after evaluating with someone who is more experienced in streaming, at first. But I came to a conclusion that since I am following all standards it should be okay and be free from such act. The reason why I said what I said when ToD asked was because a) nowhere during being educated on online tournament standards, have I been told absolute 0 tolerance over observing privileges even if the person is a sponsor; b) I want to emphasize that I was abiding by all rules and standards that I know of; and c) the first sponsor asking for it and I thought it would be a cool perk for the sponsor. If I were one, I would love to watch players who I secretly cheered for live, and have the honors to congratulate/cheer him up through PMs.
4) Who are my sponsors? – If you look at “MAL presents: Smallest Map Possible” under Liquipedia, you will find three sponsors: Psistorm Gaming, 2LD, and PHS Company. Psistorm Gaming have been checking my work out constantly, thanking me for such fun and interesting streams, and helping me promote my twitch page. As a token of appreciation, I have included their name in the list of sponsors. 2LD is a lighting design consultant firm owned by me. The stream is very and extremely far from generating any income. To repay myself for the effort and time put into making contents and running the stream, I wanted to utilize the opportunity to promote my 2LD and therefore added as one of the sponsors. The third is PHS Company, a cellular device retailer is what I am told. PHS is the sole monetary sponsor of the tournament.
5) Are the sponsors involved? – Psistorm Gaming, although I have no proof, I 100% doubt they are. 2LD, I can bet you everything I have including my organs that I am not. PHS? I am not going to say if he is or is not, simply because, I do not know fully yet. Have I done background checks before accepting him? Yes. And to my best of abilities. PHS does not physically exist yet as it is a startup company. The sponsor originally approached with DSP-Design, an actual existing architectural firm in India, which he stated that he is a member of investors. I cross referenced what he said about the company with what I could find online. Did I ever think it is weird that a Korean investor is investing in real estate market in East Asia? No. I am quite sure it is common worldwide, if not, it is at least to the Koreans to invest in real estate markets in East Asia. I know many businessmen that invest in such market in that part of the world. While cross-referencing what he said about the company to information available online…well… I am aware about the possibilities that anyone can study a website and just parrot out the notes. But if you were in my shoes, how else would you have verified the legitimacy of the company and his involvement with it? I have done what I could and concluded that he must be a genuine eSports fanatic with an admirable heart. I will reveal and cover PHS in the next point. This one is getting too long already.
6) PHS? – From the people that have raised the issue, nothing additional has come out yet since it was first brought to our attention. And since the toss from Olivia, I went on to begin my own investigation as the several attempts to reach out to the people that are supposedly investigating went without much success. I confronted PHS as soon as I heard about Olivia’s tweets to know the truth. The guy claimed he has never done anything he would be ashamed of and that the “snipe” was a nonsense. (Not saying he is lying or anything, but the response was a very expected one.) A day later, he returns telling me that he had seized all company operation to investigate as his kind deeds for the community and his company’s reputation have been greatly damaged. Another day later, I was notified that his staff found two names, Oh and Lee. Apparently, the two have been sponsoring various tournaments to rig bet rates while impersonating him and that he swears if anybody said that he was involved with such act, it is not him.
7) My response? – My follow up was to try and see if there is any truth behind what he is telling me. So I approached people with the information at hand. It was finally then when people started to disclose name of their sponsor I have been speaking to. The responses I received were very mixed and I do not hold liberty to disclose who said what. Anyhow, I went back to the sponsor and said “you know as well as I do that I am not involved, and if you are clean as you say you are, you should step forward in stating your stance.” What I suggested were a) he release PHS business permit to prove his legitimacy and exactly where money comes from; b) withdrawal of observer privileges and any stream delays and air lobby screen all throughout rest of the tournament; c) opportunity for him to step forward on stream live with cam and mic and say those for himself; and d) that the show continues as planned. a) he agreed with. b) he did as well but said that he needed a day to explain the situation to the investors and evaluate further sponsorships while day 3 in on-going, and that from day 4 and in future he would be totally fine with no delays and revealing lobbies. c) he was very opposed of coming on to the stream due to various reason, but, in a summary, it is not ideal for a businessman to do so? And that if he had ever considered being known for himself, he would have launched tournaments to promote his company on his own and not through someone else. d) he actually added that he does not wish to carry on as scheduled at the moment and requested me to postpone the tournament until investigation is complete.
8) My thoughts and actions? –
a) Do I think my sponsor was involved with such business? I do not know. I have no evidences to say that he did nor do I have any evidences that he did not. I hope he is not involved sincerely, but time will tell once investigation closes. When will that be is also unclear, but I will proceed doing my best to crack down on the case and release any information I obtain once each becomes safe to do so.
b) Even though the monetary sponsor has pulled plug from the tournament mid-way through, I do not wish to postpone tournament as the sponsor requested. I would rather cancel it then to postpone, because you do not deserve unexplained indefinite postpones. I have done no wrong, hence, I believe no reason to “lay low” as advised. I do not have any rights to break promises to people that have wanted to watch the event unless it is absolutely necessary. All players agree with me on this.
c) There will be no available prize pool currently as such money is not something I can just pull out of my pocket. The show will continue as scheduled but with minor changes. Day 3 will be omitted, and instead, be pushed and squeezed all into Day 4.
d) I will be streaming day 3 during scheduled time and as long as I can to answer any questions that may have sprung and I may have missed. (Not the best writer as you may have already told.)
e) All players will be participating except for Journey. With KeSPA’s statement on this subject matter, Journey believes that it will be best if he stayed out until further instruction from the organization. I totally agree and can respect the decision.
f) Day 4 will feature revealing game lobbies to all of the scheduled games minus 3/4th place decider match. The decider match will not be played. All players wish to carry on as scheduled, but this weekend is Lunar New Year, a holiday that reunites families in Korea. Everyone is willing to take few hours away from family reunions to play even if there is no prize pool. But I think it would be selfish to ask them to play all matches.
g) If I ever do hold another MAL presents series, I will do better on background checking the sponsors. Also, there will never be any observing privileges for sponsors including sub-surprise observing opportunities. Lastly, I will try to show lobby screens at every chance possible.
h) I really hope for speedier investigation to catch the bad guys that shit on people’s kind hearts. I have noticed the sudden sparks of reactions and quick death of them when Olivia made a post. I understand that such intolerable businesses will never die. But I hope everyone in the eSports scene including the communities to not forget nor ignore the situation and do every bit possible to drive such misbehaviors away.
i) To those that have knowingly been involved, shame on you. And to those that may have been involved unknowingly, including myself, be in charge. And to those that was not named but know of any details on this subject matter, please step up for the better good.
j) Whether I may have been involved or not, the tournament’s integrity has been damaged and really the ones suffering are the kind players that wished to just help me and win some money at the end. I would like to take this opportunity to say my apologies to my brothers that played for me, to fans and to communities of StarCraft. I acknowledge my fault for not being able to proceed and conclude “MAL presents: Smallest Map Possible” as I had promised. I take full responsibilities over this being listed in the list of “where do the money come from” tweet.
I am disgusted by this event as much if not more than those reading this long post and disappointed with more and diverse reasons from the others that are supposed to be on the “good side” and are the idols of this scene. “MAL presents: Smallest Map Possible” was such an exhaust from the experienced technical difficulties to my integrity being questioned. After Day 4, I will be taking a break from twitch.tv/iamMal to look after my damaged pride of being a long-time StarCraft fan and being involved in eSports from the accusations. I will return when it all heals and when I have found answers to do so. Thank you all for your supports, and I send my sincerest apologies to anybody that I may have let down. I am also sorry for taking so much time out of your day with this stupidly long post. I have so much more to say, but I have reached page 4 single spaced.