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Azure Ray receives sanction after exploiting bug – Dota 2 Bali Major

Chinese organization Azure Ray, Lu “Somnus” Yao Dota 2 competitive team, have been officially penalized after allegedly abusing a known bug in a recent series against Nouns at the Bali Major. This situation has surrounded the squad in controversy, especially after several match fixing and cheating allegations happening within the Chinese Dota 2 competitive scene.

Several game admins sat down to investigate the situation soon after the series finished, and on June 3rd they found Azure Ray guilty of exploiting the Watcher bug, which Valve communicated to all squads. As information on the bug was provided before the match started, anyone who abused it would immediately receive a penalty.

Azure Ray captain Somnus

Organizer’s announcement screenshot via third party social media account:

After investigation, Azure Ray’s 2-0 win against Nouns has been reversed to a 1-1 draw due to an unfair advantage gained through bug abuse in the second match.” “We have provided them instructions against the violation to maintain a fair, competitive, environment

The bug itself was discovered recently and reported to Valve on July 2nd. Despite confirmation of previous instances where the bug was abused at the Balit Major, all previous teams that potentially “used” it were not officially informed thus no penalty was given to them. 9Pandas, Azure Ray, BetBoom Team, Gaimin Gladiators, PSG.LGD, Nouns, and Bleed Esports were all notified before their next series started.

The Watcher bug heavily impacted any team that used it, as it allowed teams to check whether they were captured by pinging on top of them. This action even works while the Watcher is hidden within the map fog. Even if at first glance it seems rather simple, this provides a plethora of additional information that could potentially give away the enemy’s positioning. Within the competitive scene, information is everything, as the mechanical gap grows ever closer between players.

Of course once communicated, all 8 teams were expected to not use the Watcher exploit, but Azure Ray might have not seen or remembered the memo in their game against Nouns. The punishment was a Game 2 defeat by default, which ultimately ended the series as a tie.

This situation could not have come at a tougher time for the Chinese competitive scene, as 2 massive scandals broke out this year. A couple of recent matches and result fixing within the DPC regional league were uncovered in January and March of 2023. It showcased a for-profit arbitrage fixing and continued manipulation of DPC points in order to place certain squads at the top.

After being penalized, Azure Ray were set back into a tiebreaker series against Bleed Esports. The winner of this series will manage to advance into the playoffs stage via the lower bracket, while the loser will be flying home rather early in the event.

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