In March, the 19-year-old Finnish player Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen filed a lawsuit against Valve in a bid to overturn his ban from competing in Valve CS:GO competitions. The ban was put in place after an account with a VAC ban was traced back to Olkkonen.
The player has always maintained his innocence and said that he sold the account to a friend on the day it was created, an act that had taken place at a LAN party when he was just 14. The lawsuit seeks not only to set the record straight and have his ban overturned, but also seeks damages for the lost opportunity he had when the professional team OG passed on recruiting him to their roster following Valve’s decision.
The court case has been fraught with many problems since its inception. Most notably are rebuttals by Valve’s legal team that in electing to sue the German subsidiary of their parent company, which did not exist at the time Olkkonen entered into the agreement regarding the account. The district court has also ruled that it lacks the jurisdiction to pursue the matter, a decision it looks like Olkonnen’s legal team will appeal.
As the outcome of the lawsuit could have wide reaching implications for the professional Counter-Strike scene it has been closely reported upon by the press. Claims made in a report by Finnish publication Ilta-Sanomat on 11th November stated that during the course of the arguments, both parties had agreed that Olkkonen was not in control of the account at the time the cheating infraction took place. These claims were subsequently repeated on social media and by other media outlets.
Disclosure: Dexerto hosts a Counter-Strike podcast that repeated this reporting as part of its broadcast.
Naturally, these “revelations” were viewed as fundamentally unfair and were met with much criticism from the community. Following this Valve reached out to Dexerto to state that they disagree with Ilta-Sanomat’s published conclusions.
The Finnish legal team representing Valve in this matter wanted to clarify four points of information following the reporting error being disseminated in esports publications and podcasts.
- Mr. Olkkonen is currently suing a Valve subsidiary (“Valve GmbH”) in order to lift a VAC ban on one of the user accounts he created (the “Banned Account”).
- The information on the Banned Account does not indicate that anybody but Mr. Olkkonen was in control of the Banned Account when the cheating happened.
- At no time has Valve GmbH agreed that the account was out of Mr. Olkkonen’s control when the cheating happened. Further, Valve GmbH has not in the District Court proceedings agreed it to be undisputed that Mr. Olkkonen would have sold or transferred the Banned Account.
- Mr. Olkkonen’s lawsuit has been dismissed by the court of first instance for lack of jurisdiction. Whether Mr. Olkkonen has used cheats on any of his user accounts was not part of the court’s decision.
This response is likely to change the recent calls from players for the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association to unify behind Olkkonen’s appeal. Most recent, Cloud9’s captain Alex “ALEX” McMeekin publicly called for his pros to support the player’s efforts to get unbanned although that request was predicated on the belief shared by all in the community that a court had agreed he hadn’t cheated on the account. Olkkonen’s representatives have stated that the CSPPA have refused to help up until this point. They added that they had also been in contact with the Esports Integrity Commission but had not received any offers for assistance from them either.
While i’m on twitter, I saw a video from @RLewisReports that states that Valve are well aware that Jampi didn’t cheat on the banned account, if that’s true I ask that @CSGO unban him from majors, and urge the @CSPPAgg & my fellow pros to request the same. https://t.co/AoBfDBS50h
— C9.Colossus ALEX (@CSGOALEX) December 10, 2020
Following Valve’s response, Ilta-Sanomat has since amended their report with the journalist acknowledging they had misunderstood court documents and included a line that did not represent what had occurred.
Despite this Olkkonen’s legal team maintain the player’s innocence and have provided a lengthy statement to Dexerto as they continue to battle to have the ban overturned. They explain the situation in their court filings as the following:
“At the age of 14, in 2015, Olkkonen and his friends had held a LAN party at home. Participation in the game had required all participants to have a player’s account and a game. The price of the game was 15 euros. Olkkonen had his parents’ credit card information. Olkkonen had created an extra player account and bought the game so that everyone could participate. On the same evening, Olkkonen had sold and handed over the game to an underage friend.”
They believe that if it is agreed upon that the account was sold, which doesn’t seem to be disputed at this time, then it must be agreed upon that their client was not in control of the account. They explained this to Dexerto in the following statement:
“In their response [in court], Valve would have had the opportunity to dispute our claims and also present all the evidence they have, but they didn’t, not at that time nor later on. According to them what was significant is that the account had been under the “complainant’s name”.
Based on the court documents (summary and decision), the sale of the account has not been disputed by Valve and it is stated as “indisputable”. In addition Valve has not disputed any other claims for what we have presented e.g. relating to account selling or Valve has not demanded or provided any evidence about the account selling or anything else.
We see it as that after the sale of the account, it has not been under Jamppi’s control in any way and Jamppi is not responsible for what has been done with that account after the sale.”
While this clears up a misunderstanding around what Valve has publicly acknowledged, it still leaves many questions as to the fairness of the ban in question. Valve has always maintained a zero tolerance policy for any professional players being associated with VAC banned accounts that is upheld regardless of age. There are also criticisms that can be levied in regards to the communication around such issues. In the absence of a commissioner of CS:GO esports community manager, incorrect information can take hold and spread. While Olkkonen’s lawsuit looks set to continue, these standards show no likelihood of changing anytime soon.