Match-fixing in Dota 2 has seen numerous different scandals, from the 322 days all the way through to the recent ban of Newbee – but other forms of cheating have been seen too, specifically the use of macros which cost Thunder Predator their spot at The International 2018.
When it comes to MOBA games such as Dota 2, there are very few painstakingly obvious ways of cheating, with match-fixing being one of the most prevalent that has been seen over the years.
However, another form of cheating has constantly been a plague on the game – specifically in pub-matches where there is little-to-no punishment but extending into professional games too in 2018. Scripts and macros have long been the bane of both Dota 2 developers and those that have had to play against the cheater so when Thunder Predator player Juan ‘Atun’ Ochoa was caught, the community rejoiced.
In June of 2018, the South American qualifiers for TI8 were underway, (something that we all wish was the case right now too but I digress), and for Thunder Predator, everything was going extremely well as they seemed to have control of the qualifier. Apart from some server issues in the group stages and possible DDOS attacks, TP were well on their way to reaching TI8. However, thanks to an outcry from the community, something extremely illegal was picked up during multiple series which would result in TP’s entire tournament ending.
Scripting involves utilizing the Dota 2 console function to execute a string of commands in a time span or manner which is not possible for a human – or, in other cases, to gain vision across the map, automatically use items and multiple other things too which would give a player the edge. One specific moment from Atun during a series against SG e-sports rang all the alert alarms for many as every single one of his Meepo clones “Poofed” almost instantly to a location – something which is physically impossible to execute without a script.
In the video above, you can see that all clones appear simultaneously with technically no delay between each being selected and a skill being used – thus came the inquiry. When looking into the console, it was quickly discovered that Atun had the same speed of execution with the likes of Armlet toggling on both Legion Commander and Huskar. And so, Thunder Predator were disqualified from the qualifiers, never to make it to The International 2018. But the saga did not end there, as the organization was quick to offer a response via their Facebook.
In response, TP stated outright that they denounced the accusation of scripting and admitted that the player in question, Atun, had used a mouse with Razer Synapse. For those that do not know, Razer Synapse lets the user store premade macros via manual configuration into certain buttons – often side-keys and this is something quite often used to quickly execute a specific action. However, this went to show that this was not a script used by Atun, nor any third-party software, but a mere macro added to his personal hardware.
Unfortunately for TP, FACEIT who were the tournament organisers as well as Valve, still deemed this as cheating and the disqualification stuck, leaving the Peruvian squad out of the running for TI8 but with their heads held high as they moved into the following Dota 2 Pro Circuit season. Since that qualifier, only one member on the team remains the same, Frank ‘Frank’ Arias, while the rest have changed around him – with Atun having last played alongside Team Unknown before their roster was released earlier this year.
Although not technically cheating, the Atun case with Thunder Predator served as a severe reminder to thousands in the esports scene just how costly something like this can be. Whether it be a script, outright cheating in other games or match-fixing, the payment for this is not worth it when you get caught and could see both team, player and organisation banned indefinitely in some cases.