Last August, police in Australia’s Victoria province arrested six young men competing in the popular online video game “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” The authorities, who had tracked the suspects for six months, said they had deliberately lost at least five tournament matches after illegally betting on their own defeats, in Australia’s first police investigation into esports match-fixing. If convicted, the men face up to 10 years in prison.
With most sports on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, watching the world’s most talented gamers do battle online has never been more popular. The average number of viewers on Amazon’s Twitch platform has roughly doubled in April from a year ago. Fans use Twitch and rival services such as Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer to watch professional gamers clash in anything from Electronic Arts’ best-selling FIFA soccer franchise to Activision Blizzard’s violent “Call of Duty” shooter.