fb-pixel Skip to main content

Why a Harvard team was disqualified from a video game competition

Harvard’s Cambridge campus.Lisa Poole/Associated Press/Associated Press

A team of Harvard students was disqualified last week from competing in Heroes of the Dorm, an international video game competition for colleges, for allegedly adding an ineligible player to its roster.

Team Ambush had made it to the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the 64-team competition, which is structured after the March Madness college basketball tournament. Teams compete for thousands of dollars in college tuition money.

On Thursday, tournament organizers TeSPA and Blizzard Entertainment announced that a player on Team Ambush had shared account information with a “higher-rated player” during tournament matches leading up to this weekend’s gameplay.


“As a result, Team Ambush has been disqualified from Heroes of the Dorm,” organizers said. The statement said there is “zero tolerance for cheating.”

“The rules are in place to ensure a fair playing field for all participants — when these rules are abused, they put the integrity of the competition at risk,” the statement said.

Team Hot Boys from Michigan was also disqualified for similar rules violations, organizers said.

The Harvard students were not identified, but apologized in a statement released through the student-run Harvard College eSports Association.

The team, made up of five players and an alternate, admitted to using an unregistered substitute in the first weekend of bracket play after one team member and the alternate were unable to compete.

“As individuals who should have been fully aware not only of the rules of the tournament but also of the moral implications of our actions and their effects on others, we recognize that we have committed a grave error and can only ask for forgiveness,” the group said.

Tournament teams have “Battle.net” accounts that they log in to when competing in matches and playing “Heroes of the Storm,” an online game created by Blizzard Entertainment where players use characters to battle in an arena.


Hundreds of teams fought to secure one of 64 spots in the initial bracket-style elimination rounds. Players can win up to $75,000 in tuition money by competing in the event series.

The Harvard team competed on its own, as an extracurricular activity. The university on Saturday declined to comment on the students involved, but issued a statement saying it considers “honesty a foundational value for Harvard in the classroom, in student housing, and in extracurricular activities.”

Team Ambush has also been banned indefinitely from future events hosted by the organizations.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.