The ESL Pro League, a division of ESL FACEIT Group, announced Friday that its Executive Board of the Louvre Agreement (a legally binding covenant between the tournament operator and partnered CS:GO teams) has sanctioned esports organization Astralis with a $100K USD fine for not disclosing a conflict of interest.
As reported by esports journalist Richard Lewis in multiple news stories, feature articles, live streams, and videos, the conflict of interest relates to former Heroic Head Coach and former Astralis Head Analyst Nicolai ‘HUNDEN’ Petersen communicating with the organization while still being employed by Heroic in 2021. We’ll spare you the gory details here—you can find out the particulars by reading Richard Lewis’ multiple reports on the subject: Hunden Files 1, Hunden Files 2, Hunden Files 3, and Hunden Files 4).
In its announcement, ESL said that it initiated an independent investigation in January when it was made aware of “claims about possible breach of the partnership’s rules and regulations.”
It is important to note that ESL did not name Petersen directly or fine him—its punishment was aimed squarely at Astralis because it agreed to the rules of the Louvre Agreement, and ESL determined that the organization had violated those rules.
In a statement included in ESL’s announcement, Astralis CEO Anders Horsholt expressed his disappointment and surprise in the decision, but accepted it:
“From the moment Astralis were approached by the Commissioner’s Office with regards to these allegations, we worked closely and collaboratively with them, the Executive Board and the investigators to support their process. We are equally surprised and disappointed with the conclusion of the investigation, but we believe all parties have learned a lot throughout this process, and we accept the verdict. In Astralis, we firmly believe in maintaining high standards of professionalism, integrity, and fair play, and as such we are proud of the fact that the Louvre Agreement is at the forefront of good governance and regulatory discipline, under which a complaint by a Member is taken seriously and followed up on with a thorough investigation. We also wish to recognize the diligent work done by all involved parties in this matter. As the Louvre Agreement is a continually-evolving document, we anticipate working together with the Members in the near future to see if and how we can iterate this process further, and keep it at that best practice level.”
ESL Pro League Commissioner Alex Inglot said in a statement that Astralis fully cooperated during the investigation and that the organization is satisfied with its findings:
“Thankfully the need to investigate a Member is rare, but we will always act on critical information and investigate their relevance. We ensured that all steps of the process set out in our Agreement were followed, using industry-leading independent experts along the way. The findings notwithstanding, I would like to commend the constructive manner in which Astralis conducted themselves throughout the inquiry and upon its outcome.” “Our ESL Pro League fans, partners and participants expect us and our Members to operate with the highest standards of integrity, both on the server and away from it. We are proud to have had support from a range of individuals and organizations during this investigation and to have finalized a position that reassures all involved.”
Finally, Petersen issued a statement about the decision, noting that he was not personally punished, and that previous sanctions by the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) for his part in the situation between Heroic and Astralis that were handed down in August of 2021—a two-year ban—were ultimately lifted in December of 2022: