How GOATs got away with some pretty big rule-breaking.
Disclaimer: This is in no way a means to target the players, staff, or the careers of GOATs. It is merely a report on news and what occurred.
It was 1-0 on day three of Trials. Things were not going well for GOATs in their matchup against Euphoria. The frustration in their voices was apparent. At one point, Hooey could be heard screaming into his mic. Calls were jumbled. Voices mixed. One too many voices…
Straight and to the point, the coach of GOATs, Blizzard, had been coaching in the middle of the match and at one point even helped out with ultimate tracking for them. GOATs broke three possible rules that are typically in place in competitive Overwatch:
Speaking to players during a match.
- In the Open Division ruleset, it specifically states that coaches cannot communicate to players during the match (See image below).
Streaming without a three minute delay.
- It is more than likely a requirement for tournaments to implement a three minute delay on player streams. This is logical to prevent ghosting and stream sniping.
- It is never okay for someone who is not playing the game to relay information to the players during a competitive match. This is a form of cheating.
So what happened? Well, there were several instances where Blizzard’s voice comes into play. Streamed on the channels of players Boostio and Coluge, we saw two perspectives with two different scenarios. On Boostio’s side, there were four timestamps which Blizzard can be heard coaching and assisting the players in the match. Boostio’s POV can be found here:
1:31 – Coaching
16:03 – “They just used Grav”
17:47 – Coaching about target calling
22:57 – Coaching all the way through to the start timer.
On Coluge’s side of the match, these instances did not exist. However, during the equivalent times, you can hear players speaking in a one-way conversation. Coluge had muted Blizzard. One could view this as being suspicious, but perhaps Coluge was uninterested in this advantage. Perhaps he wanted to play the game fairly.
Here is Coluge’s POV:
I am showing recorded footage of the VODs because a couple days after the matches, when word started going around, both Coluge and Boostio had deleted their VODs of that match specifically. It would also be the last time GOATs streamed a Trials match.
So what administrative action was taken?
I needed to confirm the rules of the tournament, so I contacted an admin of Contenders Trials. This person informed me that the agreement is to the Contenders rule book, not Open Division. Completely understandable, however, it turns out there was a gap in the rules. One of the rules in Open Division was not explicitly stated in the Contenders version, meaning that coaching during the match was legal.
On the other hand, it was confirmed by my source that both streaming without a three minute delay and the assistance of play at 16:03 in the Boostio VOD were against the Contenders rule-set.
This made the events at 1:31, 17:47, and 22:57 completely okay. Maybe not by moral standards, but by legal ones.
This left 16:03, the most controversial part of the match. Before I explain, view this part of the match for yourself, starting at 15:40 and ending at 16:09. You can watch more for context.
This event is proof of someone streaming without delay, and the assisted knowledge from a coach spectating. They clearly use Graviton surge at 15:44. Then at 16:03, Blizzard informs GOATs while they are tracking ultimates.
You can watch the same fight from Coluge’s perspective which features the absence of the phrase, “They just used grav.” The event starts at 16:41 and ends at 17:06.
The only action given was a warning (as far as sources have informed us).
How do we know that is the voice of Blizzard?
This is a valid question. If GOATs had the intentions of using this to their advantage, they must have thought that no one would recognize the voice of a seventh man. Using process of elimination, we can determine who is who in the video. Clips are for audio comparisons.
Boostio: A highly a recognizable voice. We know who he is because he normally streams and is the recorder of the main VOD we are analyzing.
Coluge: Again, this player streams quite often, and can be determined from that.
Nomy: Former player of San Fransico Shock. You can hear his Hispanic accent.
Hooey: a Brazilian player formerly for Tempo Storm, Eminent, and The Savages.
Tensa: a console star and a GOAT, through and through.
NaGGa: A Danish player formerly for Copenhagen Flames. Again, you can hear his region’s accent.
Blizzard: Former head coach of Full Send and Eminent.
This covers all six starting members of GOATs on day three. None of these resemble the voice heard in the timestamps listed prior. For even further reference, here is a long amount of dialogue featuring Blizzard.
Now here is the same dialogue from Coluge’s POV:
How does this affect future Contenders and Contenders Trials?
Based off this evidence, it is undeniable that someone other than the six members in the game was speaking and giving information about the game. It can be concluded that at least one member of GOATs was streaming with a delay far less than three minutes. While 1:31, 17:47, and 22:57 can be excused because of rule book technicality, the event that took place during and prior to 16:03 in the Boostio VOD is a clear violation of rules.
In the future, it can be expected that administrators of Contenders and Trials will implement the absent rules to prevent this kind of exploitation from occurring again. Implications such as the cutting of the streams, the lack of streaming after the issue, the deletion of VODs, and the voice chat muting suggest that it is possible that this had occurred in other matches as well. However, there is no evidence for this.
I have made contact with sources in current and previous contact with Blizzard to confirm that he is the one talking in the videos to further verify the claim.
It is unlikely that GOATs will receive additional consequences for the matter, but there is hope that due to this attention, something like this will never happen again. One solution to this could be to enforce voice channels assigned to the players and staff, but that will be up to Blizzard officials.
As someone with deep love for Overwatch and the T2 and T3 scenes, I hope only the best from this situation.
As always, for updates and engagements, you can follow me on Twitter @Neowyld.