What is Collusion?

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Since late July/early August, the issue of collusion became a hot topic among the Fighting Game Community. The stronger enforcement of anti-collusion rules have been both praised and criticized by many players, but not everyone has a full grasp on the meaning of collusion, and what would be considered collusion in a fighting game tournament. In this article, I will hopefully clear up the confusion on what is considered collusion and what isn’t.

Definition

Before explain I explain everything else, let’s look at the definition of the word “collusion”:

Merriam-Webster: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose

Free Dictionary: A secret agreement between two or more parties for a fraudulent, illegal, or deceitful purpose.

Dictionary.com: 1. a secret agreement, especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes; conspiracy: Some of his employees were acting in collusion to rob him.

2. Law. a secret understanding between two or more persons to gain something illegally, to defraud another of his or her rights, or to appear as adversaries though in agreement: collusion of husband and wife to obtain a divorce.

Collusion in Poker

Collusion can happen in competition outside of fighting games. I actually learned about collusion while I was following poker. There are a few way for players to collude in a game.

  • A player makes the first raise and the next player calls. A third player, who is a partner for the first player raises behind the second player so the first player can raise, too.
  • A player betting all of his chips to a partner in a poker tournament.
  • Intentional signaling between partners about which hands they have.

These types of action is not only frowned upon in the poker world, you can get in huge trouble if you get caught doing it in a card room. You could even go to jail for it!

Character Selection

Picking an different character doesn’t mean you are colluding, although it can be a strong indicator. It’s communicating with your opponent about which characters the two of you will pick that makes it collusion. It’s also possible to collude with someone and still use your best character by agreeing to throw the match.

Pot Splitting

Some may argue that two players splitting the pot in the grand finals can still play a legitimate match. While it possible to play a straight game with a split pot, it often can affect how hard a player tries to win.

Say it’s grand finals in Street Fighter IV. First place is 5,000 and second place is $2,000. The player from winner’s bracket is familiar with the player from losers bracket so he offers to split the $7,000 prize money between them, each getting $3,500. If you are the player from losers and you take the split, the following situations can arise:

1. You lose the first set. You take your $3,500 and walk home.

2. You win the first set, but you lose the second set, you take home $3,500.

3. You win the first set, then you win the second set, you get the same $3,500 you would have got for just losing in the first set ot begin with. But you also get the trophy of course.

With that in the back of your mind, it would be very hard to put effort into winning that match. It pretty much takes magic to play a straight match while concealing a pot split. But the fact that you get paid the same win or loose in a split pot is what makes your play sloppy, even if you didn’t agree to lose on purpose. That’s how players get caught.

How eSports Deals With Collusion

There is one main reason you don’t see too much issues about collusion in other forms of competitive game: The organizers enforce their anti-collusion rules. Last Summer at an Major League Gaming event (which I attended), the final two teams in a League of Legends championship played and one of the games was an apparent planned game where literally everyone meets in the middle to fight. The powers that be were not happy with what they saws, and disqualified both of those teams and stripped them of their prize money. In short you will rarely hear about a pot split, or collusion in general, in places like MLG, because if you if you get caught, there will be no pot for you to split.

Hopefully, this piece helped you get a firmer grasp what is considered collusion in a tournament. The call for strong rules and enforcement against collusion won’t go away anytime soon so it’s better you know what actually is collusion so you can avoid making these mistakes yourself.