Former Optic India player Nikhil Forsaken Kumawat was cheating during the ESL India Premiership LAN finals. There was recent evidence of Forsaken using unfair means on LAN during the Zowie Extremesland 2018 tournament. The fallout of this incident resulted in Optic India parting ways with the entire roster.
For Infinite esports and Optic Gaming, this incident is just another addition to their long list of woes. After recent instances of mass layoffs across various esports teams, this incident is already making Optic reconsider their Indian expansion.
ESL finds evidence of Forsaken cheating
After Forsaken’s Shanghai incident, there were serious doubts about Optic India’s achievements in the recent past. Optic India is the winners of ESL India Premiership after winning 2-0 against Slaughter Rage Army in the Grand finals. They also had a perfect 11-0 scoreline in the online Group stage of the tournament.
In retrospect, their perfect record seems to be very suspicious. Nodwin Gaming who are partnered with ESL decided to take a look. Fortunately for the organization, they still had the hard drives that the players used during the LAN finals. The fact that Nodwin Gaming did not wipe the drives clean was extremely useful in their latest investigation. They found files similar to the ones found in Shanghai on his SSD [ Solid State Drive ]. Not only does this finding put in doubt the integrity of the entire tournament, but it is a huge blow to the Indian esports scene.
India could have avoided the International embarrassment
For many fans, talents and players the Optic India incident happening in Shanghai was the worst possible outcome. For India to be represented as cheaters on the world stage, it has created a sense of despair in the community.
ESL mandates all players to upload their configurations to an SSD one day prior to the actual match. Fortunately for them, they were able to load this SSD and check for any malicious files. They did file malicious files on Forsaken’s SSD. They verified the timestamp and the date when the data was written to the SSD.
However, this was an unnecessary situation especially if ESL would have arranged for proper checks and facilities. The ESL India Premiership Grand Finals came to conclusion very recently in October. However, despite the passage of several days, ESL had still not checked the SSD. One does wonder if India could have avoided the International embarrassment if it had taken adequate precautions. Between ESL and Nodwin Gaming, the announcement of Optic India as the eventual winners seems to be a hasty decision, without proper checks and precautions.
ESL will investigate twenty CS: GO players who took part in the ESL India Premiership. While we still await results from this investigation, the announcement itself has created a negative aura around Indian esports scene. Despite the rapid growth in gaming in the Indian industry, such incidents heavily impact the growth of the scene.
Not a repeat of IGC, but definitely a speedbump
Indian esports has already witnessed a huge obstacle during the early part of this decade. The Indian gaming Carnival was probably the single worst thing that could happen to organisers in the Indian esports scene. With well-known teams like M5 scammed in India, it was a warning sign to any potential International teams in the near future.
This incident of Forsaken hacking is a grave one, however, it does not have the same impact as the IGC. For one, esports is already an extremely fast-growing industry in the present day and time. The massive gaming industry in India is exactly what could propel the bottom lines for several esports organisers and teams. This was the principal idea during Optic Gaming’s decision to expand into this region. Ofcourse with the recent debacle, they might just reconsider their decision to enter the Indian market right now.
The incident of Forsaken [ and possibly multiple other players ] cheating is a big speed bump. However, we hope it remains at just that, a speedbump. We already have Dreamhack Mumbai 2018 announced for late December. Along with Dreamhack and ESL, several other companies are also investing in the future of Indian esports. With time, we will see the development of esports in one way or the other. The bigger question is if companies can invest into the scene and ensure proper safeguards against such incidents in the future.