Three hundred and twenty-two dollars may not seem like a lot, but you’d be surprised what an enterprising Dota 2 fan could buy: 80 copies of Darude’s Sandstorm EP. A single Sennheiser PC 350 Special Edition headset – great for throwing! Fifty-three jars of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Or 216 large mangoes – Ice Frog's favorite!
But would you risk an esports career for any of it? Well, that’s what happened in the 322 incident. It wasn’t the first instance of match-fixing in esports, but it was the first high-profile case for Dota 2. And it has since become shorthand for any play that looks suspiciously... bad.
It was mid-2013 and the sixth season of StarSeries was winding down. RoX.KiS would end their unsuccessful campaign with a match against zRAGE on the final day of the round robin. No matter what happened, the outcome wouldn’t affect the standings. But the outcome was, indeed, bizarre.
The heavily-favored RoX squad lost to zRAGE in a 27-minute slaughterfest that included a lot of bad decision-making in the form of astoundingly terrible engages and very ill-advised buybacks by RoX. To put it in perspective, RoX gave up 50 kills during the game – nearly two a minute.
It could have been just a case of a team clowning during a meaningless game, a concept that’s not exactly uncommon for Dota 2, but evidence surfaced that RoX.KIS player Alexei “Solo” Berezin had bet against his team. With the odds so firmly in his team’s favor, the bet would turn $100 and a loss into... $322.
StarLadder banned Solo from their events for life, issued three-year bans to his teammates and banned the RoX organization for a year. RoX initially defended the team, saying that the evidence was inconclusive, but the player eventually admitted that he had placed the bet, and RoX apologized as Solo left the roster.
StarLadder then commuted Solo’s ban to a year. As far as we know, Solo never got the money.
Well, in-game — or in Twitch chat — it is now basically shorthand for any play that is bad enough to be suspicious. When used outside of the game, a 322 simply refers to match-fixing.
The meme is so widely accepted by the community, that when Arrow Gaming was removed from The Summit 2 by organizers, even their team management referred to the accusations against two of their players as a “322 scandal.”
In our current era of esports, the idea of throwing a game for 322 dollars seems ridiculous. But Valve took the matter seriously and, according to a Facebook post by former manager Tiffani “Oling” Lim, they held a briefing at The International 4 which clearly stated that match-fixers would be banned from Valve events forever.
This set the tone for the future of Dota 2 esports and underscored the fact that all future match-fixers would not receive the leniency that Solo had.
As for Solo’s career, he managed to bounce back despite the incident. Now a member of Virtus.pro, who recently won DOTA Summit 7 and came second at the Kiev Major, the ban is comfortably in the rear view mirror.
But the meme, as it so often does, lives on.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.