I occasionally bet on StarCraft matches for fun, so naturally when the WESG Finals came on, I decided to check out the odds on Pinnacle to see if there were any prices worthwhile.
For those who don't know, WESG is a tournament that invites the best players from their respective regions around the world to play each other in a sort of "world cup" format. The problem is, this usually leads to some one-sided matchups.
Enter WESG 2018, Group F:
When I first saw this group, one name stood out to me: Seventy91. It seemed that all the other members of this group were fairly established in the scene, but Seventy91 was a wildcard. Indeed, after some searching around, I was able to find Seventy91's battle.net account, which revealed that he was sub-4000 MMR casual player in Diamond 2:
With all other members of the group above the 6000 MMR level, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Seventy91 would get swept out of the group, losing to every single opponent 0-2. With that in mind, I checked out the odds a few hours before the group started and decided it would be worthwhile to bet on several of Seventy91's opponents to win against him 2-0 (in gambling terms, this is betting against a -1.5 spread).
One of the other players in this group was MacSed, a Chinese Protoss player who usually hovers around 6000-6300 MMR. You would certainly expect a player of this calibre to 2-0 a sub-4000 MMR player over 99% of the time, and that might be an understatement. The price on MacSed winning 2-0 against Seventy91 initially hovered between 1.34-1.37, meaning you could see a 34-37% return when betting on him to win without dropping a map. I put $300 on this bet, as shown:
Here is the thing. At the skill gap of 2000+ MMR and that price, most bettors would agree that this bet has very high EV. The opening line was already priced as if Seventy91 was a 5000+ MMR player, not sub-4000. Nobody in their right mind would bet on the Seventy91 +1.5 spread in this situation.
A couple hours after placing my bet, I noticed that the line for MacSed - 1.5 had moved tremendously, from 1.34 to 2.06. This type of line movement is almost unheard of in SC2. For those unaware, when prices move like this, it can only mean that a person or a group of people have bet an extremely high amount on a single side. In this case, this means that huge money was being put on Seventy91 to win at least one map against MacSed. This is not a natural betting pattern, and given the skill disparity between the two players, I am almost certain that the bets were made with match fixing in mind.
Just look at the difference between the money line price of 1.1 for MacSed compared to the -1.5 spread price of 2.06. This means that somebody out there was confident enough to bet thousands on Seventy91 to win a map, but still thought that MacSed would win the series. This is not a decision that any normal bettor would make without knowledge of a match fix. If you compare the MacSed vs Seventy91 line to the other matches, such as INnoVation vs Stephano, you will see that it is a ludicrous disparity.
Indeed, the match went on and, to no surprise, MacSed ended up losing a map to a player over 2000 MMR below him, in a mirror matchup no less. From my knowledge of this situation, I feel that there is no explanation other than match fixing.
It is also worth noting that the opening lines were similar on all the other matches that Seventy91 played that day, but there were ZERO signs of any bets made towards Seventy91 on those matches. The only match where Seventy91 gained any momentum in the bets was against MacSed, and that ended up being the only map won by Seventy91 in the group stage.
- MacSed (6000-6300 MMR Protoss) played a Best-of-3 match against Seventy91 (<4000 MMR Protoss) in the WESG 2018 group stage and won 2-1.
- Betting trends indicate that a huge amount of money was placed for Seventy91 to win a map against MacSed a couple hours before the match started. This heavily skewed the lines to the point where there was an implied >50% probability that Seventy91 would win a game, which is ludicrous.
- MacSed likely got offered a sum of money from a broker to lose a map against Seventy91.
- MacSed knows that Seventy is a weak opponent, so he will still be able to win the series 2-1 and still have hope to move on in the tournament.
- Chinese players have a history with match fixing (see Silky, Coffee, and others banned in 2017). I should have considered that before making any bets on this.
I hope that the replay will be released and that Blizzard/WESG takes this allegation seriously. I know that this is not the most important match, but this is how match fixing scandals start and begin to grow. Although this does not affect the outcome of the tournament, this behaviour cannot be tolerated and I hope that proper investigation takes place so that we can put a stop to this in the future.