Did The Biggest TrackMania Streamer Get Caught Cheating?
Every game with a competitive element has cheaters, that’s just inevitable. When a respected community member gets accused of cheating, however, it can affect the whole community. This week, the TrackMania community has been shocked by such cheating allegations.
It all started when Burim "riolu" Fejza, the biggest TrackMania Twitch streamer, shared his direct messages with “Wirtual”, the biggest TrackMania YouTuber, live on stream. Riolu is a professional player for Nordavind, the Norwegian esports organisation for which Wirtual used to be a streamer. Riolu and Wirtual have been good friends for years, but their relationship turned sour when Wirtual confronted Riolu with suspicious runs from the past. What went down this week that caused these two TrackMania celebrities to fall out with each other?
Where there’s smoke, there might be fire. For a while, there have been some suspicions about one player by the name of “Techno”. Techno has grinded the older TrackMania for years, and got so many runs in the leaderboards, that he held third place in the TrackMania United Forever rankings as of last week. Rumour has it, that someone saw him play TrackMania, then saw someone else play the game, and noticed a discrepancy in the game speed.
If someone slows down the game with third-party software, they can drive the tracks with more precise inputs, making them superhuman gamers. Playing in slow-motion is a very effective way to cheat in TrackMania, a game that’s all about the fastest and most precise driving. If Techno might have done it, there may be a larger problem at play. But how can you know that, years after the records were set?
When TrackMania players try to hunt for records on the various tracks in the games, they save their best runs as a replay file, and upload them to the leaderboards on a website called TrackMania Exchange. Wirtual’s friend Adam “Donadigo” knew it was possible to extract the inputs players made from such a replay file, and he made a tool that can do that.
Donadigo also made a script that runs through the available replays on TrackMania Exchange, and checks them for twitchy steering. Wirtual and Donadigo tried to get an idea of how quick the best players can tap left and right on a keyboard, a controller, and even a steering wheel. If a replay shows much quicker inputs, the player could have slowed down the game. All their analysis and findings can be found in the report that was published on May 20.
Riolu and Techno are the biggest names in this investigation, but certainly not the only ones. Six more players are accused in the report. All of them have driven and uploaded suspicious runs that were good enough to appear on the leaderboards. Some other players are mentioned and analysed too, but Wirtual and Donadigo believe they were either false positives, where the script made a mistake, or they had too few replays to analyse.
It all looks like Wirtual and Donadigo produced their investigation as thoroughly as they could, and many pro players have said it looks conclusive. Still, it is almost impossible to be 100% sure without the explicit confession from the players themselves. Donadigo has tried to account for inaccuracies with his input extraction tool, but he could only do so much. The report also mentions: “Because of limited resources, we did not investigate the possible effects of hardware/software latency.” However, they do not think this changed the outcome of the investigation.
It doesn’t help Riolu and the others that Techno and two other players confessed to using Cheat Engine to play in slow-motion. Of course, this doesn’t prove Riolu’s or anyone’s guilt, but their inputs do look very similar.
What we can know for certain is that the players accused of cheating didn’t make a name for themselves by playing illegitimately. On a livestream, when there is no such way to cheat, Riolu and Techno are amazing TrackMania players. What could drive them to cheat, is the grinding it takes to win a world record. They don't need to cheat to get faster times, but to get times faster.
It’s been a tough few days for the Trackmania community, and much is still unclear. Riolu and Wirtual have quit streaming until further notice, and other TrackMania content creators are stuck in limbo. Some people have lost friends, and maybe colleagues. As of yet, nothing is known about Riolu’s return, and his position in TrackMania. It is inevitable that TrackMania’s developer Nadeo will do their own investigation, and that could put Riolu’s spot in the TrackMania Grand League in jeopardy.
Riolu has also set a few times for the Super Track Master (STM) in TrackMania Turbo. The STM is a time set by a professional TrackMania player, like Riolu. If the bronze, silver, and gold medals are too easy, the STM is there to challenge the very best. If it turns out that Riolu was indeed cheating, Riolu’s STMs could possibly be cheated too. Riolu is not just the most known player in the report - his actions also carry the largest consequences.
In the aftermath of the report, Twitch streamer “LuckersTurbo” made a confession to his audience that he, too, had cheated five years ago. His confession has been met with a lot more positivity, as he is now open about what he has done. Also, his cheated runs were just to gain some points on the leaderboards, not to be in contention for the world records.
One positive thing to take away from all of this drama, is the tool Donadigo made. Apart from investigating weird inputs, the tool can be used to learn from the best. Any eager TrackMania player can download the tool, look at past world records, and study them to get better. How much did they accelerate, how much did they steer to get the optimal line? Before, people just had to download the replay and try to guess what the player did. Now, everyone can see exactly what’s going on, and try to do even better - without cheating, of course.
Images via Nadeo | RioluTM | Wirtual