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Quarantine response to Beavern's ban

Created 24th January 2011 @ 03:02

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Kritzonite

qn.

I’m a member of Quarantine, a 6v6 TF2 team that last season took part in Division 5 of ETF2L. As many of you no doubt know, just over a week ago it was announced that one of our members, Beavern, would be banned for one year due to admins determining that he had made use of an aimbot and wallhack during an ETF2L match. We have waited this period of time before responding not because we believe he is guilty or because we have nothing to say, but because we have been spending a great deal of time since his ban investigating the circumstances of his punishment and preparing a case for his defense. We are extremely convinced of his innocence and of the flaws in the system that punished him, as I will now outline.

Firstly, it’s important that people should know a little more about Beavern, as many appear to view him as simply a scout/sniper with extremely good aim who appeared from nowhere. The fact is that Beavern has been playing first person shooters for ten years, starting at a very young age and including success at the highest level of other games. He was one of the top players in Europe in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, with many victories and top 3 finishes in online tournaments, along with proven success at LAN, with one tournament win in that context. He was widely regarded as one of the best shotgun players in the game, and having played in the same team as him, I can attest to his game-sense, awareness and tactical nous as well. I can also confirm that he has shown immediate ability in every game I have seen him play, from CS to Quake to League of Legends, and I have little doubt he could perform at a high level in any game he wished to set his mind to.

One particular example that seems to encapsulate his ability to rapidly acquire the requisite skills for a game occurred when I spent some time one afternoon teaching him the basics of movement in Quake 3. As anyone who has played Quake knows, the movement in that game has enormous depth, and the nuances of it can takes months if not years to fully master. Even the basics of it are typically very confusing for a beginner, yet Beavern performed with tremendous competence in minutes what most people I have trained only understood after hours. All the evidence I’ve seen indicates that Beavern is simply an intelligent player who can decipher very rapidly the elements required to perform well at a game, and it is this ability that enabled him to swiftly perform at a high level of aptitude in Team Fortress 2.

The obvious response following the receipt of this information is to ask why, if Beavern is so skilled, he would choose to remain in a division 5 team? The answer is that he is simply a loyal and respectful person who, despite offers from teams as high as division 2, has chosen to stay faithful to the people he has been with for over a year. I first met him two years ago, and he has known some of our other players for almost as long. Not only that, he regularly meets with two of our other Swedish players in real life and they, as well as others outside the team who have seen him in the flesh, can testify regarding his LAN ability. We felt we had a talented group of players, mainly drawn from our L4D roots, and our goal as a team had been to work our way up through the divisions together, going as far as our abilities would take us. Sadly, it seems that ambition is being stripped from us unjustly, and the very qualities that had kept Beavern with us have instead fuelled suspicion and rumour, now leading to his enforced 12 month removal from our ETF2L squad.

The final point related to Beavern is one already raised in positive terms by a few in the posts commenting on the bans, that being his character. While those who responded were right to say that being a nice person doesn’t prove someone isn’t a cheater, it still serves as relevant information for his defence. Just as in a real trial, juries hear of a person’s character, good or bad, it’s important that people know more about Beavern as a person. Athletes who are found guilty of cheating, be it drug abuse or other serious infractions of a game’s rules very frequently appear to be unpleasant or arrogant people (Maradona or Ben Johnson being obvious examples), and I have also found it to be the case that cheaters in the gaming community are typically similarly unlikeable individuals, with this opinion being formed well before they were proven guilty of an offence. If someone is prepared to deceive their teammates and opponents and undermine the very game they play with their illegal behaviour, it stands to reason that they are likely to be a selfish person with few morals. Put bluntly, cheaters are usually bastards. Beavern is not. In fact he’s one of the nicest people I know; considerate, friendly, helpful and modest, and I’m sure all those who know him would verify this description. It’s extremely hard to believe someone of these qualities would be the kind that would engage in a conceited, destructive act like cheating.

I’ve already seen some good posts this week about what I’m about to discuss – the ETF2L anti-cheat team (from hereon ACT), its structure and the methods used to convict and ban alleged cheaters. It seems many already doubt the quality of the ACT and the methods by which it operates, and there is good reason for holding that view. Previous incidents reinforce this – http://www.onlinegamer.se/2010/03/fraga-hur-val-fungerar-etf2ls-ac-grupp/ (scroll to the bottom for an English version) – and it is readily apparent to anyone who has thought about this that the ACT operates in a way that would make a police state blush. The identity of those who preside over it are kept hidden; the number that comprise them is also kept secret; they do not publicly reveal the evidence used to convict players; they do not reveal the analysis used to evaluate demos; those convicted have no means of defending themselves; there is no opportunity for appeal; any attempt to reveal the workings of the ACT for the purposes of improving it, or for any other reason, is met with a one year ban. Kafka would probably hesitate to satirise this, deeming it to fanciful to be worthwhile.

The old saying “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” could scarcely be more applicable than here. It is a near certainty in human affairs that any organisation which operates without transparency and without accountability will immediately veer towards corruption and abuse, and it is my firm belief that this has occurred with the ETF2L ACT. Everything is done to support the rights of the ACT admins, with nothing done to protect players from an authority which subjects players to punishment without recourse. The ACT admins remain hidden and protected, with no need to justify decisions, while any player is a potential casualty, with no proof of their supposed crime and no opportunity to prove their innocence. Any lower division team with talented players should fear the hand of a system such as this, lest your players be stripped from you at the whim of rumour and envy of opposing teams. Today it may be Beavern, but tomorrow it could be your talented sniper, your able scout, your brilliant demoman. Anyone who seems to excel beyond their rank is a target, and you should expect that you could be next, not just fear it.

In any civilised democracy with an enlightened justice system, the view is taken that it is better for a hundred criminals to walk free than for one innocent person to be wrongly convicted. ETF2L appear to take the view of the despot, who sees it as better to purge a society of all possible crime, with any innocent casualties being just so much collateral. Just because a gaming community isn’t professional doesn’t mean it shouldn’t strive for high standards. Even if it isn’t possible to follow all the details and procedures of an existing legal system, that doesn’t mean the crucial pillar of justice should be dispensed with – that an individual’s guilt should be proved beyond reasonable doubt, and that the burden of proof should lie with the prosecution, rather than on the innocent man to prove his innocence. In the real world, the police can’t simply punish you without showing the evidence for the crime you committed. In ETF2L, however, you are convicted and punished in a blur, with no idea what you have allegedly done wrong.

Another principle that is commonly applied to authorities in the real world is that conflict of interest should be absent from their affairs. That is, those who rule on a matter should have nothing to gain from the outcome, whichever way it falls. Again, ETF2L runs utterly contrary to this principle, with those who rule on anti-cheat matters also being players who encounter in competition those they pass judgement upon. The disastrous potential consequences of this should be immediately apparent, but if they’re not, perhaps a real example from another game will serve to illuminate them. Not long ago in a German Left 4 Dead league, a player was accused of cheating by rival teams. His case was brought before an anti-cheat panel and he was found guilty. However, there were members of the anti-cheat panel who also played for the very teams competing against the player under suspicion. No reasonable person can expect justice to be done under these circumstances, so it should be clear that ETF2L is also incapable of being just.

I broached this subject with an ETF2L anti-cheat admin and his response didn’t go beyond a declaration that a league’s authority “must be based on trust”. Well, I say that authority should be based on principles stronger than faith – it should be based on facts and on evidence and on transparency and on credibility and on accountability and if it isn’t, then it isn’t fit to exist in the first place. If it can’t be proven to be credible and just, protecting the rights of players as much as admins, then no one should tolerate it, and it should be dismantled.

When discussing Beavern’s case with a member of the ACT, the admin in question acknowledged the flaws in the system (how could he not) but challenged me to come up with a superior alternative. This is in no way a valid defence of their defective organisation. Power is not self-justifying – to warrant existence, any powerful entity must prove its legitimacy. The burden of proof is always on those who claim their authority is necessary, not on those subject to the authority to prove it is unnecessary, or illegitimate. If you wish to place others under your domination, this is the challenge you must pass. ETF2L have singularly failed to do this, managing only empty protestations about admins having ‘special abilities’ to spot cheaters, and that these unique skills give them the right to behave with impunity towards the poor, dumb masses who apparently lack their rare insight.

I’ve heard it stated several times this week by Beavern’s accusers that ETF2L isn’t a democracy, and therefore our right to question it should be dismissed. Pause for a moment and consider how ridiculous this line of reasoning is. It’s basically an open invitation to reduce to the lowest quality imaginable any organisation where participation is voluntary. Any system will work better when there is input from as many different perspectives as possible, and it will always be fairer if the views of all are represented. We want fair, well run leagues in TF2, do we not? So let’s not just shrug our shoulders when we see incompetence or abuse of power, saying “oh well, they can do what they want since they own it, what can we humble peasants do?” Organisations only function competently and justly when held regularly to account, not when their authority is feebly submitted to.

Despite the fact that the ACT refused to reveal details of our case to us, we did later find out what convicted Beavern, due to an ACT log being leaked to us by someone sympathetic to our cause. We then watched through various demos of Beavern, until we found one that matched the ticks noted by the admins. It was later confirmed to us by an admin that we were correct in concluding which demo had been used. Sadly, the Damoclean scenario of a one year ban being enforced should we reveal anything about the evidence prevents me from talking about specific failures in the analysis of the ACT. It didn’t, however, prevent us from linking the demo – which is publicly available on the ETF2L site – to anti-cheat admins from other leagues. So far, of the six we have shown it to, five have determined that there is no evidence of cheating or that it is inconclusive, with only one ruling that anything suspicious was present (and even he stressed repeatedly the difficulty of drawing firm conclusions merely from demo watching). Given that the ETF2L ACT ruled unanimously that Beavern cheated, this is an extraordinary statistic.

To be clear, all the non-ETF2L admins presented with the demo were told nothing – they were simply handed the demo and asked if they saw evidence of cheating. No attempt was made to influence their opinion in any way. IRC logs were taken of all these conversations, and I believe it likely that all the admins questioned are willing to testify regarding their opinions, and on the veracity of the logs. So compare the results – 5 of 6 non-ETF2L admins, none of whom had even heard of Beavern, ruled that he did not cheat, or that there was no conclusive proof. The ETF2L ACT, who knew of Beavern beforehand, who knew of his association with Aven, who played against Beavern or had friends who played against him, ruled unanimously that he cheated, as is necessary to enforce a ban under ETF2L ACT rules. Any rational person should immediately conclude that something extremely dubious took place within the figurative sealed walls of the ACT chambers.

Now, it isn’t known how many comprise the anti-cheat team. We do know, thanks to gryzor’s previous revelations, that it was at one time as few as two. If that is still the case, it seems a woefully low number required for unanimity when banning a player. If it’s higher, say 5 or 8 or 10, then it seems an incredible statistic that 100% could all somehow draw the conclusion that Beavern cheated, while over 83% of the non-ETF2L admins ruled that he did not.

It should be clear that at the very least, the ACT team were unduly influenced by their prior familiarity with Beavern, and at worst, they are utterly corrupt and should be removed from their posts instantly. Beavern’s acquaintance with Aven (incidentally, someone else who has been banned without conclusive proof ever having been presented) should not influence the admins in any way, though we have documentary evidence that it entered into their thinking. Guilt by association is a logical fallacy, and is not valid grounds to suspect someone on. We continue to seek out more impartial anti-cheat admins from outside ETF2L and we fully expect the pattern exhibited thus far to continue.

The support shown so far for Beavern has been pretty humbling. The comments on ETF2L, 125 members in little over a week in the Unban Beavern Steam group and every day we receive messages of support from teams we face in pcws. Only one team so far has refused to play us, most have been supportive, so overall we have a belief that the European TF2 community recognise an injustice when they see one, and want it to be set right. While it is disturbing that there are some who will blithely believe in a man’s guilt just because they are told of his supposed crimes by an authority figure, it appears they are in the minority. Either way, hopefully everyone will have a chance to review the evidence with their own eyes, as one person in possession of the anti-cheat log used to convict Beavern has stated his willingness to post it publicly. If that is not deleted by the ACT immediately, an act which would confirm their determination to conceal their sordid system, as they did when trying to silence Gryzor, then the weakness of the evidence used against our teammate should be plain for all to see.

I urge anyone who cares for anyone about the European TF2 scene to support us in this matter, as this form of treatment towards players poses a grave threat to the future of the game. If the message sent out to new players is one demanding that they are forbidden from displaying any skill early in their career, lest they be immediately banned for alleged cheating, then how can TF2 in this continent possibly grow? A game becomes a laughing stock and eventually withers and dies if it is seen to treat talented newcomers with contempt, so the seriousness of a failing anti-cheat division in our main league should not be underestimated. Make sure we now take action to fix it before any further damage is done.


Last edited by Kritzonite,

BIG YIDDY JOHNSON

If Kritzonite is putting his reputation on the line with his statement, I do believe that it is a testament to Quarantine’s belief that beavern is truly innocent. I’ve played with them previously and they do seem to be genuine people.

I think the point made about the ACT is a good one. If the number of judges is only 2 or so, then that should be changed. A panel of at least 5-7 judges would probably instill a lot more confidence that any bias is thrown out the window, and that differing perspectives are heard.

With that said, hopefully this situation can be rectified. Good luck this season Quarantine.


Last edited by BIG YIDDY JOHNSON,

quad

inb4 tl;dr posts… read or dont post.

Other than that, this is no news, sadly..

@Yiddy there is more than 3 ac admins fyi (“hidden”)


Last edited by quad,

IPZIE

Übersexuals

I finished reading it. Now i know more about Beavern and his mates.
But i heared all this before? Whats the point

Si^

Pokeman
[PG]

im guessing your mad?

Side|Effect

2ne1
[PG]

Good read. The system sucks.

kaidus

007

Good post.

Hildreth

(PR Admin)
LFT
8-)

Online

tl:dr = BeaVerN a nice guy, don’t cheat and AC team are dodgy and the system should be sorted.

+1 qn.

Jude

anime

this just in: kritzonite banned for aimbot/wallhack!


Last edited by Jude,

Skyride

DUCS

I have to be honest, I saw this topic and just sighed, but after reading your post I have to congratulate you on being the first person to do a remotely decent job of articulating why a player should not be banned.

However, you should understand that the AC team don’t ban people on a whim. I’m not saying BeaverN isn’t a good gamer, or that he is definitely a hacker, but the AC team don’t ban people without being pretty damn sure they cheated.

Just to help your cause, you might want to add in a few little details. For example, who were these div2 teams giving him offers? Would they publically mention it?

Also, regarding “ETF2L is not a democracy”, I don’t think its something you really need to be told as you already seem like a smart enough guy. It’s more for the dribbler 14 year old kids with an incredible sense of entitlement and self-importance. No one is suggesting ETF2L AC should be able to ban whoever the hell they want for whatever they like. Infact knowing someone on the team quite well, I can say that the whole process is not even remotely as formal as most people seem to imagine it is.

Regarding asking random people for opinions on demos, thats a total waste of time. Most people genuinely do not know what they are looking for when someone is allegedly a cheater. Therefore rather than claim ignorance, they scramble to have an opinion which is unanimously “NOT A CHEATER” instead of “I have no fucking idea”. Noreille (spelling?) is a perfect example. He was in a team with 3 of the most blatant hackers in the history of european TF2 – one of whom has actually admitted cheating – and still claims they are innocent. I’m not implying everyone not on the AC team is like that, knowledge is always a spectrum and never black and white, but never the less the vast majority of people genuinely are not knowledgeable enough to comment, but do so anyway (which imo is really more of a current societal issue rather than anything TF2/Internet related but hey, thats another debate entirely).

The point I’m trying to make is, the AC team wouldn’t ban unless they were pretty damn sure, and the vast majority of people don’t really know enough to comment.


Last edited by Skyride,

tf2 is dead

seems very possible, id rather have a lame ac program than these admins

Feneer

NPNL.
GFL

A good point well made, and while I’m sure we won’t see Beavern unbanned, I hope that more players will demand transparency in the actions of the actions of the ACT. This may not be a democracy, but throughout history we see how dictatorships topple when the people loose faith in those in charge.

The way accusations of guilt are handled in the current system would make even some third world justice systems ashamed, behind closed doors and with no accountability. If a magistrate IRL is willing to risk his reputation by allowing his deliberations to be examined and discussed, in the hope it may prevent an innocent man from being convicted, then surely the ACT are willing to make a similar sacrifice of their online reputation. Even though many people may single them out as the reason their friend is being punished, isn’t the idea of of a society where people with power are scrutinised in their actions worth the sacrifice?

It seems to me that the ACT are not truly committed to serving justice, but simply conducting show trials to appease the general consensus that “hackers must be caught and banned”. People will believe that everything is well simply because of the list of names emerging from the black box that is the ACT. “Ah,” they think, “I remember playing against him, I remember he was quite good” and that is enough. As long as every so often we are reminded that the ACT is still out to get hackers, and is producing results, then we don’t really care. Out of sight, out of mind. And what of those who avidly defend one or two of those who are accused? Just the determined friends of a hacker, drawn in by the lies they tell, surely, they must be. We know and accept this, because the ACT is never wrong, otherwise we would have seen an admission of error, right? Even in the worlds most established and respected judicial systems, mistakes are made, and and innocent people are incarcerated. And yet, we have appeals, or new evidence comes to light, and if it is found there is reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused, an admission of error is made and the accused is freed. This doesn’t stand to weaken the authority of the system, but strengthen it, as we are given confidence that while mistakes are made, we always strive to rectify them, and not stand blindly by a decision made with inadequate evidence.

That’s my views on the anti cheat system in this league, and in many others I’m sure, you can agree or disagree, or even flame me for that matter, but don’t dismiss what I have to say without thinking about what it means if this is allowed to continue. I didn’t know Beavern, I fact I never even played against him, but I believe that this is the perfect time for everyone who has their doubts about the ACT to speak out, otherwise, to paraphrase Martin Niemoller, when the time comes for you to defend your innocence, there will be no one left to speak out for you. There is a place for good practice and fairness in all settings, even one as informal as an online league for a game.

Thanks for reading.

trams

-><-

Maybe you should link to the demo? specify the ticks and most important: what cl_interp did he use?

As stated before: An ac program doesnt catch many cheaters, but it probably scares some of them.

Jude

anime

Quoted from trams

Maybe you should link to the demo? specify the ticks and most important: what cl_interp did he use?

As stated before: An ac program doesnt catch many cheaters, but it probably scares some of them.

linking the video wouldnt really achieve anything, just subjective opinions of a majority without knowledge of what to look for in a cheater.
if it was obvious for stv/specs to see him cheating , this controversy wouldn’t have come about

IPZIE

Übersexuals

Quoted from Jude

[…]

linking the video wouldnt really achieve anything, just subjective opinions of a majority without knowledge of what to look for in a cheater.
if it was obvious for stv/specs to see him cheating , this controversy wouldn’t have come about

no wonder qn didnt allowed any specs after the first rumors.
http://ircz.de/p/c9174f028d62b6b90420f5b01a02880ac5192306


Last edited by IPZIE,

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