Virtual Competition Leads to Illegal Substitution in E-Sports

Lee R. - June 15, 2020
Virtual Competition Leads to Illegal Substitution in E-Sports

A virtual racer's thinly veiled attempt at phoning in wheel management has E-sports up in arms.

Can a stand-in corrupt virtual sports?

Not So Fast

Apparently, for one Daniel Abt, virtual competition was not enough—or maybe it was too much.

Whatever the motivation, Abt managed to throw a hiccup into the integrity of rising-in-corona-era esports.

Racing's Unique Adaptation

The most forward-thinking adaptation for online sports to this day has been esports car races, where professional race car drivers have been taking virtual driver wheels to deliver a similar level of competitive excitement to the virtual arena and punters.

Event, not Driver

Unfortunately, Abt seems to have confused the definition of “virtual,” as revealed when in a recent Formula E race he let professional gamer Lorenz Herzing take his wheel duties during a race for his contracted Audi Formula 1 Team.

Passing the Buck

By handing over the keys to Herzing in the Berlin Tempelhof race, Abt managed to hand over the integrity of esports.

As If

The ruse was rather easily discovered during the race, when Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne and others detected anomalies that launched an investigation.

Virtual Crow

After the rapid discovery that the wheel management did not trace back to Abt’s IP address, Vandoorne professed his concern on Twitch, saying after the race

“Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself. Really ridiculous.”

Real Penalties

The virtual violation led to thoroughly unvirtual penalties of 10,000 ($10,900) against Abt, to be donated to a charitable group, and the booting of Herzing from the sim-racer component of the competition.
Virtual Apology

Abt's subsequent apology was much less virtual, and far more transparent, acknowledging that he didn't take the virtual race “as seriously as I should have. I’m especially sorry about this because I know how much work has gone into this project on the part of the Formula E organization. I am aware that my offence has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention.”

Esports' True Pain

Intentionality may not appear as extreme to Abt in violating a virtual race, but to the thirsty action-starved fans and punters out there, as well as the organisers of the Formula E in this vital time of Covid event compensation, the virtual violation may be more acute than ever.

Don't Diminish Tangibles

In this annoying time, esports' preservation of professional competition across a virtual landscape represents a tremendous breakthrough that made professional racing far and away the champion sport in adapting to the COVID closures: who would have thought that competitors in any professional sports league could continue participating in puntable events in a time when all stadiums and live actions had been shut down?


Instead of viewing this as a smoking gun for the argument against the betting integrity of esports, let this be a reminder of the human element of infallibility that pervades all competition. Don't blame esports for this egregious faux pas: blame humanity.



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