The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) issued a five-year ban to professional “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” player Nikhil “Forsaken” Kumawat on Wednesday after he was reportedly caught cheating during the ESL India Premiership earlier this month.
It’s “well known” Kumawat was caught cheating during the Zowie eXtemesland Tournament LAN finals in Shanghai last week leading to Optic India’s disqualification, the ESIC said in a press release. “As Optic India had won the ESL India Premiership the previous week and ESL India is a member of ESIC, we asked them to examine Optic India’s and Kumawat’s performance specifically to see if it was possible that he cheated in their event,” it said. “The evidence that emerged indicates beyond reasonable doubt that Kumawat cheated during the ESL India Premiership.”
Cheats Kumawat allegedly used during the eXremesland event were also found on his solid-state drive from the Premiership, and match analysis shows they were used numerous times. No cheats were found on the SSDs of other Optic India players, the ESIC said.
While a second offense normally results in a lifetime ban, the ESIC said it felt that punishment would’ve been “disproportionate.” “We are conscious that many in the ‘CS:GO’ community will disagree with this and we understand their feelings, but do not agree and feel that sanctions in esports ought to reflect what is accepted practice in traditional sports as our industry professionalizes,” it said.
Kumawat recently apologized to his teammates and to Optic management in an official statement to AFKGaming. “I feel extremely guilty for stealing away the opportunities from my teammates, each one was extremely talented and I have jeopardized their chances of being where they deserve,” he said.
“If I could go back I would probably delete the day when I first played ‘Counter-Strike,” he said. “Nothing good has happened to me since the day I started playing the game. I thought this game was for me, but since last almost one year I have not been loyal to it. I worked hard but I wasn’t loyal. I gave everything away for the game, I always put this game above everything else and today I realize what I have lost.”
“It is always desperately sad when something like this happens in esports, but this case is particularly disappointing as we have previously shown compassion and consideration for Kumawat in our prior dealings with him,” said the ESIC’s commissioner, Ian Smith. “Additionally, he has caused great damage to Indian ‘CS:GO’ and esports and devalued an excellent competition. There is no place in esports for cheats like Kumawat and, at a personal level, I hope we never see him back in ‘CS:GO’ or any other game again.”