Valve set to unban notorious match-fixing squad after 10 years
In a surprising twist, Valve is lifting the once permanent ban on Joshua "steel" Nissan come January 26, 2025.
This decision comes almost a decade after the infamous iBUYPOWER match-fixing scandal that rocked the Counter-Strike scene in 2015.
Seen as a change in tune, it opens up some intriguing narratives for the future of those professionals, either returning to pro play or opening the door to becoming broadcast talent.
What happened with iBuyPower?
The situation unfolded when it came to light that some iBUYPOWER team members intentionally tanked a game against NetcodeGuides.com back in August 2014.
As a result of an investigation by esports journalist Richard Lewis, the scandal became public and struck Valve's attention.
The following fallout caused Valve to swing the ban hammer. In a public statement on January 26, 2015, under the banner of integrity and fair play, Valve announced the decision. Among the seven names hit with an indefinite ban was steel.
Fast forward to almost a year later, Valve stamped these bans as permanent, ending any speculation of a comeback in their sponsored events.
However, a small window of opportunity would crack open in July 2017, when the tournament organisers ESL and DreamHack lifted the bans for their tournaments.
Out of the banned bunch, steel was the one who seized this chance, diving back into Counter-Strike, and making waves in various top-tier events outside of Majors, though ultimately leaving the scene to pursue a career in another game.
A career post-ban
With the announcement of Riot's new tactical FPS title, an opportunity for redemption opened up for steel. The ban from Valve-sponsored events likely nudged him into the VALORANT scene in 2020.
Playing for big names like 100 Thieves, T1, and Disguised, he found a new competitive home in Riot Games' VALORANT. Although a forced move, it showed steel's commitment to the genre, remaining a relevant figure in both scenes through his content creation.
With the ban lift, opportunities could open up anew. While a return to pro playing might be a stretch for some of the older iBUYPOWER members — most of them are over 30 — a career in other positions within the Counter-Strike ecosystem appears possible.
That said, steel’s venture in VALORANT hints at a promising potential, whether that’s continuing as a player, transitioning into coaching, or stepping onto the broadcast stage.
None of the other banned names have given public statements about whether or not the unban window also applies to them, though Braxton "swag" Pierce has at least interacted with steel's tweet.