25th October 2018
The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) has today banned CS:GO professional Nikhil “Forsaken” Kumawat from all esports related activity for or with any ESIC member organisation for five years for cheating during the ESL India Premiership earlier this month.
It is well known that Kumawat was caught cheating at last week’s Zowie eXtemesland Tournament LAN finals in Shanghai leading to Optic India’s disqualification. 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. The evidence that emerged indicates beyond reasonable doubt that Kumawat cheated during the ESL India Premiership. Most of the evidence is publicly available and is compelling. The same cheats used at eXremesland was found on his SSD card from the Premiership and match analysis shows numerous examples of the cheats being used. No cheats were found on the other Optic India players’ SSDs.
Whilst a substantial amount of the evidence has been available publicly for a few days and there have been many calls for a quick decision and a lifetime ban, we have taken our time to ensure a proper procedure has been followed in accordance with the Code of Conduct to which Kumawat was subject during the Premiership. He was entitled and remains entitled to due process and natural justice. Consequently, we have tried to contact him to offer him a reasonable time to consider the evidence and take the opportunity to plead guilty and accept a proposed sanction or plead not guilty and defend himself before our independent Disciplinary Panel. He has not responded to our attempts to contact him.
We considered the nature and extent of his cheating as a level four offence under the Code (Art 2.4.4). For a second offence, the maximum sanction is a lifetime ban, but we took the view that this was not proportionate as his first offence in 2017 was only very indirectly related to this offence and that a lifetime ban would have 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 professionalises.
Kumawat has the right to appeal within 48 hours of receiving the decision. We will update as necessary on this.
Integrity Commissioner, Ian Smith, said, “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. 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.”