Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen has still yet to hear from Valve since his original correspondence with them late last year about his connection to a VAC ban on an account that he once owned. According to people with knowledge of the situation, the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association has once again resumed talks with Jamppi, but Valve remains missing in action. While it is Valve's prerogative to choose who they respond to, and such correspondence could be affected by the lawsuit Jamppi filed against Valve, their silence from the start has been troubling for a number of reasons.
Imagine for one moment that Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev had received a VAC Ban in CS:GO instead of an ESL ban in 2013 on Counter-Strike 1.6. We wouldn't have had the honor of watching him wreck everyone in his path and make CS:GO dramatically more enjoyable to watch over the past few years. The endless clips and trophies has already accumulated in such a short span would cease to exist. He will likely go down as the best Counter-Strike player in history, yet there is an alternate world in which he never had the chance to do so. That's not to say Jamppi would ever be as good as s1mple, but losing the opportunity for him to even explore his ceiling is upsetting.
Most VAC bans are cut and dry, but Jamppi's situation is unique in that he was 14 when the account was banned, and according to him, he wasn't in possession of the account when it received the ban. Valve's response to Jamppi was minimal and left more questions than answers if he indeed wasn't in possession of his account. Many argue that Jamppi admitting he sold the account did him in, but that is a weak reason to ban someone for life. We all know what the Terms of Service says, but how is a 14-year-old expected to know that selling an account might jeopardize their opportunity at making a career out of the game? It's not a realistic expectation.
My distaste for the way Valve has handled this situation extends beyond the decision to disallow Jamppi from playing in Majors. Refusing to respond to Jamppi's requests for clarification appears as if they aren't even confident in their own decision making. Again, Valve doesn't owe anyone anything, and it is only because of them that Jamppi would have a chance of playing professionally, but their attitude is still concerning. Taking away what might have become a once-in-a-lifetime career path deserves more than a couple sentence response in an email. I would love to know how Valve would have handled this if it had been one of the developer's own children instead.
It is my belief Valve uses cases like this as a warning to prevent others from making the same mistake in the future, as evidenced by the iBuyPower indefinite match-fixing bans. It is effective to hand out the harshest ban possible, but the approach can be unnecessary, harmful, and lacking any sense of compassion. It is especially rough considering that they have in fact got it wrong before, taking more than five years of opportunity away from Robin "robiin" Sjögren despite him never cheating in CS:GO. What other relevant sport in the world bans people for life when caught cheating? We just witnessed a full-scale cheating scandal in baseball in which the players received no punishment.
Yet Jamppi, who was 14 and possibly not even in possession of his account at the time of the ban, can never play at a Major again. How is that fair?