Opinion article: Xiao8 caught in betting controversy
Ning 'Xiao8' Zhang was caught in a controversy yesterday after a leaked audio from the Super League studio proved that he placed bets on TongFu winning against NeoES.Orange. The Chinese forums are exploding with hate and this is ReiNNNN's take on the issue.
If you have not heard, Ning 'Xiao8' Zhang, captain of LGD, was caught betting on TongFu in their Dota 2 Super League semi-finals match against NeoES.Orange. The information was leaked yesterday when Zhao Jie, Xiao8's girlfriend who was present at the DSL studio, made a phone call to Xiao8 in which he said that he won 2,000 RMB betting on TongFu.
The audio was leaked due to Gamefy's mistake, not muting their microphone on DotaTV where the conversation between the bets were broadcasted to thousands watching from the client. The phone call continued with Xiao8 asking if Zhao Jie would like to play Mahjong with him later that day. Mere minutes after the leak, Chinese fans ready their pitchfork and brought it to the Chinese forums stating what Xiao8 did is unethical and he should not follow in Jia Qi 'SJQ' Shen's footsteps, Chinese shoutcaster known for betting ridiculous amount of money on teams.
A few hours ago, Xiao8 released a tweet on his QQ account stating his reason for the bet and he should not participate in such activity.
I thought that it (betting) would make watching tournaments more exciting, to have sort of participation in it, not the money. I have never betted in any of my games no matter if the opponent is strong or weak. However, I am a professional athlete and shouldn't be doing such a thing.
I personally find this quite outrageous, that people are bringing out their torch and their pitchforks to burn the witch. I am even more outraged knowing that Xiao8 is sort of apologizing for putting his money on a match in which his meager winnings will have no effect on the outcome of the match. Considering that his bet on Tongfu, against Neolution.Orange, will not in any way change the results of the game, people, even professional players like him should have free access to bet on his favourite team(s).
For an example of Xiao8's situation, I will provide you with an analogy which will be similar to the matter at hand. Let's assume Kobe Bryant is at your house and the both of you are watching a game of Miami Heat versus San Antonio Spurs. Knowing that you are a Spurs fan, Kobe put $50 on the table and say that the Spurs will lose today. You put $50 yourself supporting your team and at the end of the day, Heat won and Kobe walks away 50 bucks richer. Does that seem like a crime? No, because there was no way Kobe could change the results of Heat versus Spurs. Should Kobe apologize on Twitter stating that he should not bet just because he is a professional? No either because for all we know, Kobe Bryant is best pal with Lebron James and just wants to support him.
What's wrong with betting when it won't have any effect on the results?!
I talked to a few professional players today about the matter and most just laughed at how this situation escalated, especially at the fact that Xiao8 did not even bet against his own team. "What's wrong with betting when it won't have any effect on the results?!" said Daryl 'iceiceice' Koh, Zenith player. "Betting makes the games much more interesting to watch, you will really support one team instead of not caring who wins". I talked to a few more professional players regarding the issue and although they do not want to have their name disclosed, they shared the same sentiment as iceiceice and stated they do put on friendly wagers with friends and teammates over specific games (non-related to themselves).
However, I could understand why the Chinese forum go-ers are getting all riled up from the expose. Esports, especially Dota 2, is currently in the process of getting recognized as a national sport in China and the scandal may leave a blackmark on the decision maker. Besides that, coming from a Chinese descent myself, I have been brought up hearing "gambling is bad" because Chinese people allegedly have a knack for gambling away their car, house and wife. It is the difference in culture and we may have to just let out a sigh and roll with it despite how ridiculous the situation is.
I believe that betting in Esports is totally fine as long as you don't act like Alexey 'Solo' Berezin, betting against your own team.
History however, may not been on my side because multiple high profile Starcraft players such as Jae Yoon 'sAviOr' Ma and many more have been caught match fixing at the peak of their career. However, this is not our problem to face (for now) because all the ESports betting websites currently have a limit on the maximum amount a person can bet and the risk of getting caught versus the small reward is almost definitely not worth it.
In the case of betting websites such as Egamingbets deciding to remove the limitation on Esports betting in the future, we may face a much bigger problem considering most Dota players are getting paid sandwiches and also the fact that we do not have an organized body to punish offending players such as KeSPA.