New Vote Kick System, PUG Balance Changes, and More!

Over a year ago we launched our updated live support system and through a process of more extensive community surveys, discussions with players in forum threads/tickets we have designed the next iteration to help combat toxicity to give you the best experience.

In this post, we aim to break down each change piece by piece to explain our reasoning behind each move in four sections.

  1. Players can rank up once again with five queues, and the penalty has been removed for 3-4 queues
  2. Karma cleanup bans will now occur whenever a player hits -30 karma and their length will increase for repeat offenders. We have also added minimum karma penalties for community conduct bans
  3. Changes to the in-game conduct support system
  4. New votekick system: .votekick <alias> [reason]

Players can rank up once again with five queues, and the penalty has been removed for 3-4 queues

When ESEA launched our PUG system 15 years ago, they served as a natural, automated way for like-minded players to group up for short games when they weren’t practicing with their team. Since then the esports industry has expanded rapidly and ESEA alongside has continually grown building a million dollar Pro League alongside ESL as well as launching our Rank S structure awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in individual-based competitions. However, as we tried to create more and more competitive environments to determine the best players we have moved further away from groups of friends merely queuing up to enjoy playing CS:GO together.

Today we aim to rectify that balance as players will now once again be able to rank up from D- up to A+ through playing five versus five games through the PUG system. Similarly, we have removed the penalty associated with queuing with groups of 3-4 players which previously made it more difficult to rank up when queuing with a party of friends. Five versus five matches will now count toward the player’s individual statistics and the Rank Leaderboards. Players will still need to solo queue in A+ to reach Rank G to guarantee the highest skilled competitors advance to our highest divisions.

Karma cleanup bans will now occur whenever a player hits -30 karma and their length will increase for repeat offenders. We have also added minimum karma penalties for community conduct bans

Previously ESEA gave unpleasant players the benefit of the doubt and allowed them until the end of the month to get their karma above -30 to prevent a Karma cleanup ban. However, through monitoring players that fall below this threshold, we find that typically players do not try to adjust their behavior and some even deliberately behave worse due to expecting themselves to be banned.

Moving forward, players will be banned as soon as they hit -30 Karma or below. Some examples include:

  • If a player reaches -30 Karma on March 1 they will be banned until March 31
  • If a player reaches -30 karma on March 15, they will be banned at that point until April 14

Karma bans will also increase significantly with each occurrence:

  • The first ban will last 30 days
  • The second 60 days
  • The third 150 days
  • Each ban afterward will last a calendar year

Since this update is being made mid-month as a one time change all players below 0 karma has been set back to 0, to give them one last chance to redeem themselves.

In a similar vein, we have implemented minimum karma penalties to our community conduct bans as in the previous system of pure % based karma penalties unpleasant players often received a relatively minor punishment due to their low karma. Moving forward a player will be punished with the worst of the two options:

  • 1st offense: -10 karma or -10% total karma
  • 2nd offense: -25 karma or -20% total karma
  • 3rd offense: -50 or -35% karma
  • 4th offense+: -75 karma or -50% karma

With the variety of external qualifiers hosted on ESEA, such as ESL One events, IEM, and DreamHack, players will be able to play in qualifiers/events with a Karma cleanup ban. However, they will not be able to compete in the ESEA League, PUGs, scrims, ladders, Rank S/G, etc.

Changes to the in-game conduct support system

Other than short periods of downtime for updates, PUGs are being played on ESEA 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Across the globe, players were reporting each other every few minutes, and we quickly scaled up, adding dozens of new staff members to monitor games to try to improve overall behavior.

Despite this, we faced a fundamental problem when trying to punish players for toxicity in real time. As a staff member is only connecting midway through a match, they can only see actions from that moment on. Live GOTV servers cannot be rewound in the same way as a demo, and as a result, the staff member cannot see the context of the situation of the rounds leading up to the report. This, in turn, made it harder for live support staff to make more informed decisions. For example, a staff member may join a server and see a player standing AFK for 20 seconds at the start of the round before resuming. This would not be long enough to trigger the AFK filter but what the staff member hasn’t seen is the player has consistently done this every round. The longer you make the delay between the GOTV and the gameserver itself, the more context the staff member has for the report, but the more disjointed the communication becomes with the players in-game.

As a result, we will be moving to a new post-match report system where players who feel another player is maliciously ruining their game or violating our conduct policy can reach out to our staff after the match to our staff in the #PUG-conduct channel in the ESEA Discord. This will allow our staff to make more concrete bans, and with the harsher punishments outlined above should lead to unpleasant players leaving the ecosystem faster.

New vote kick system

However, we still want you to be able to resolve these conflicts in real time. If a player is deliberately ruining the game for everyone else, then we want you to be able to remove them as quickly as possible so you can get a ringer and continue the match as close to normal as possible. We will not be merely reverting to the old PUG moderator style kick system as from experience we believe it could result in the moderator opting to kick players that they disliked rather than the full group disagreed with.

Therefore, we will be introducing the new kick system which will require all four other players on their team to agree that they wish to remove the player. The vote kick must be initiated by the player with the highest karma on that team. Intuitively if the person whom players are voting to kick has the highest karma, then the person with the second highest karma must initiate the kick against them. Vote kicks cannot be initiated once a team has 14 won rounds.

To initiate a votekick, use the .votekick command in the game server. For example, if you want to vote kick JoeGamer for intentionally giving the bomb to opponents, use .votekick JoeGamer intentionally giving bomb to opponents.

Players will be able to dispute a kick via the same #PUG-conduct Discord as the in-game reports. In previous iterations of the vote kick system, we laid out absolute concrete rules for when you could kick someone. The problem with that style of system is that CS:GO is a complex game, and almost no two situations are the same. These disputes will essentially be treated as a report of the kicked player themselves. A staff member will review the case and either: forgive the kick (restoring the karma for the disconnect) and punish the player who initiated the kick or punish the player who made the dispute if they were kicked for an apparent reason where they were violating the conduct policy. However, new in this system, our staff members may also choose not to ban either party if when reviewing the case they believe it falls into a grey area where both players are somewhat to blame.