Disgraced Indian Counter-Strike Global Offensive pro player Nikhil 'Forsaken' Kumawat was cheating during the ESL India Premiership Fall Season Finale according to evidence unearthed by the event organiser. In the wake of Kumawat's cheating at Extremesland 2018 and subsequent disbanding of Optic Gaming's India squad, ESL India organiser Nodwin decided to check if there was any proof of the use of rogue programs or hacks during Optic's win of the tournament. Sources familiar with the matter have confirmed to Gadgets 360 that this was indeed the case. The solid state drive (SSD) used by Kumawat during the ESL India Fall Finale had not been wiped yet and was stored in Nodwin's office, making the verification of possible cheating an easy task. In fact, the files found were similar to those discovered at Extremesland 2018.
"Our League Operations team immediately decided to boot up Forsaken's SSD to check for any malicious activity, as we dug in deep, we found the exact cheat programme that he used at Zowie Extremesland," reads a post from ESL India's Head of Product, Aditya Shah. "On inspection of the 'temp' folder in Windows, our team found a suspicious folder with the name 'Rar$EXa5164.33720' located at 'C:\User\ESL-IN~1\AppData\Local\Temp'. This is the folder where Zip/ RAR files are uncompressed before they are moved to a folder. We at ESL India have considered this a Level 4 offence under the Code of Conduct of ESIC. The Commissioner of ESIC is conducting an independent inquiry and will deliver his verdict soon."
We won't be surprised to see rematches of the top four teams in the wake of Optic releasing its entire Indian roster and the possibility of Kumawat serving a rather strict ban, which we hope actually sticks this time around.
Last week, Kumawat's actions had caused the disqualification of Optic India from Extremesland 2018 and the team was disbanded soon after. Optic continues to operate in India with plans to "pursue new opportunities with other competitive options".
This is a surprisingly welcome move from ESL India and Nodwin. Neither are interested in courting controversy and have been called out by a vocal e-sports community for their decisions in the past. Granted it doesn't take much to examine existing data, but it's a step in the right direction.
That said, it also goes to show that Kumawat's actions could have been caught out much earlier had administrators and referees during the event paid attention. More so when you consider that this isn't the first time he was flagged for cheating. Prior to joining Optic, he was served a two year ban by the ESIC (E-sports Integrity Coalition) that was reduced to six months following lobbying on his behalf from influential members of the community and AFK Gaming, an e-sports site with significant investments from ESL India organiser Nodwin.
Optic set up shop in India earlier in the year with an announcement to put together an all-Indian Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. According to a prepared statement from the company in May, it partnered with two local Indian e-sports companies, AFK Gaming and SoStronk to discover the necessary talent for its Indian squad.
As per the selection process highlighted by Optic, candidates would "undergo an extensive evaluation based on psychometric and theoretical tests in addition to role-based and in-game analysis". This was led by Ali Saba, Optic Gaming Scouting Director, with support from Prashant 'Aequitas' Prabhakar and the SoStronk team. Evidently this wasn't enough.
Update, October 22, 2018: story updated to include ESL India's official statement.
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