Nikhil 'forsaken' Kumawat, a former member of OpTic India's CS:GO team who was caught cheating last week during the Extremesland Asia finals, has been banned by the Esports Integrity Coalition from "all esports related activity for or with any ESIC member organization" for a total of five years.
ESIC said that the evidence against him is "compelling" and "beyond reasonable doubt," and indicated that he cheated not just at Extremesland Asia but also at the ESL India Premiership tournament earlier in the month, which the OpTic India team won.
We take down Team Slaughter Rage Army 2-0.We have been crowned as the champions of the @ESL_India Premiership Fall Season LAN!We would like to thank you all for your support!#OpTicIndia #Greenwall pic.twitter.com/VZENy18OYuOctober 14, 2018
"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," ESIC said.
"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."
Kumawat was facing a potential lifetime ban as a repeat offender, but ESIC opted for the five-year ban because his previous offense, in 2017, "was only very indirectly related" to this one. "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 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," ESIC commissioner Ian Smith said. "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."
While Kumawat did not respond to ESIC's efforts to contact him, he did release a statement to AFK Gaming, apologizing for his behavior and saying that his teammates had no idea he was cheating. ESIC confirmed that no cheats had been found on other OpTic India players' SSDs. Even so, OpTic India disbanded its CS:GO team shortly after Kumawat was caught.