Mad Kings player Steven “StingeR” Vargas was banned halfway through his team’s DreamLeague Season 22 Qualifiers match against Thunder Awaken
Mad Kings support player Steven “StingeR” Vargas suffered a humiliating ban that abruptly ended his team’s DreamLeague Season 22 Qualifier hopes against Thunder Awaken. He was forcefully disconnected from the server, so Mad Kings had no choice but to forfeit the series. The Peruvian side took on their compatriots Thunder Awaken in the South American qualifiers for the million-dollar event. StingeR’s untimely ban threw a wrench into Mad Kings’ ambitions, but what prompted Valve to take such drastic action in a match of such magnitude?
MK.Stinger just got his main acc banned for account sharing on pubs with Parker and couldn't reconnect game 2 (losing 2-0 against Thunder) woof pic.twitter.com/HoyhRxbAbO
— Julián (@FlapjackDotA) January 16, 2024
Why Was StingeR Banned Midgame at DreamLeague Season 22 Qualifiers?
Dota 2 developer Valve has reportedly taken action against players using smurf accounts or sharing accounts, with StingeR becoming the most prominent figure to face the consequences of these bans. Even though Valve did not officially declare a recent ban wave, it’s widely believed that the Mad Kings player fell victim to Valve’s wrath because he shared his account with a superior-ranked teammate.
Credit: Dot Esports
Valve rolled out an update a month ago, targeting players engaged in smurfing, boosting, account sharing, and similar violations. Tens of thousands of accounts have faced bans, and the ongoing progress sees daily enforcement.
Although the smurf ban on StingeR may seem unexpected and odd, Dota 2 enthusiasts have been compiling evidence against him over the past 48 hours. On January 15, a member of the Dota community disclosed their findings on Reddit, alleging that fellow Mad Kings player David “Parker” Nicho Flores had been boosting StingeR's account.
Credit: minidotaa on Reddit
To provide context, Parker currently holds the second position in the North and South American leaderboards. In contrast, his teammate StingeR has a considerably lower ranking, hovering around 400th place. Parker played on StingeR's account until it reached the 274th rank, at which point mini discovered the account.
The controversy hit its peak the following day as StingeR was banned in the DreamLeague Season 22 Qualifiers Lower Bracket in front of thousands of spectators.
Before reaching the 10-minute mark in the second match, StingeR got disconnected from the series and was unable to rejoin. While repercussions for the duo were expected, a tournament ban was an unforeseen development, leaving casters Luke “Blu_Scale” Bedwell and Ahmed “Otomo” Al-Azawi visibly taken aback by the unfolding events.
Winning the qualifier would have guaranteed Mad Kings a place in Dreamleague Season 22. Therefore, the mistake made by StingeR and his team potentially translated into a significant financial loss.
Though an official confirmation is yet to come, there are indications that various professional players have faced bans on their smurf accounts. Valve's decision last year to revoke pro-player immunity to smurfing bans is seemingly manifesting in this scenario. Imposing bans on multiple smurf accounts hints at potentially more severe consequences if they continue to exhibit such behavior. Parker’s account is still unaffected at the time of writing, however.