Whether you play Clash Royale yourself or simply like to follow the Masters League, you’ve probably heard about the recent scandal involving pro player Jimit Bhatt.
Bhatt has received a 12-month ban from ESL India preventing him from participating in tournaments for the next year.
But what did the popular player do to deserve this sanction, and was it justified?
We’re going to be delving into the circumstances surrounding Jimit Bhatt’s ban in this article, which will tell you all the key information you need to know.
Why Was Jimit Bhatt Banned?
Jimit Bhatt’s 12-month ban from participating in tournaments with ESL India came after it was discovered that Bhatt’s gaming account had been accessed by 30 different devices spread across 10 countries over the course of a month.
Video evidence was submitted demonstrating that Bhatt was otherwise occupied at times when his account was being used, proving that he himself had not been accessing his own account from other devices or locations.
Account sharing is not allowed in competitive esports (see also ‘What Is Prohibited In eSports?’) because it could allow players to benefit from qualifications, ranking points, or rewards that they have not earned themselves.
In Bhatt’s case, ESL India issued a statement indicating that it was not clear how many rewards or qualifications had been won through Bhatt’s account during the periods in which it was being used by other players.
In the context of competitive esports, account sharing is considered a form of cheating, and it is a violation of the Esports Integrity Commission’s code of conduct.
Cheating is taken very seriously in esports for reasons we’ll get into later.
ESIC not only has a code of conduct regarding the practice of cheating to win, but also an anti-doping policy (see also ‘What Is The ESIC Anti-Doping Code?‘) and an anti-corruption code which helps to deter match-fixing.
For each of ESIC’s policies, there is a full disciplinary procedure to ensure that the player(s) responsible are held accountable for their actions, which is why Bhatt has been banned for a year.
The specific charges against Bhatt include violations not only of ESIC’s code of conduct but also of the ESL India Premiership Rules and the terms and conditions laid out by Supercell (the developer of Clash Royale).
Why Is Jimit Bhatt’s Ban Controversial?
Bhatt’s ban from ESL India has been met with mixed reactions from fans of Clash Royale, Bhatt, and the esports league itself.
On the one hand, some spectators and fans felt that the ban was only fair.
After all, if players are able to rise through the ranks of a league through the hard work of others, esports ceases to be fair and the legitimacy of competitive leagues could be questioned.
However, there were those who felt that Bhatt’s punishment didn’t fit the crime, arguing that a year-long ban for a month of account sharing seemed excessive.
Additionally, because ESL’s statement conceded that it was not possible to know for sure how many points, rewards, and qualifications Bhatt gained as a result of his account sharing, some fans may have felt that the severity of the cheating could not be determined and that a year-long ban was unfair in these circumstances. After all, as we have mentioned, Bhatt was a very popular player.
It’s true that the length of Bhatt’s ban far exceeds the length of time for which he was found to have been cheating.
However, there’s a reason why large esports leagues such as ESL India (which happens to be the largest independent esports league worldwide) are cracking down so hard on cases of account sharing and other forms of cheating.
Whilst esports and the competitive leagues that showcase them are becoming increasingly popular, the fact remains that the industry as a whole must continue to grow if esports hope to be viewed as legitimate sporting events.
In order for this to happen, there can be very little leniency when it comes to cheating and fraud within these leagues, so when you look at it this way, the length of the punishment makes more sense.
It’s also worth noting that Bhatt’s ban follows another major controversy surrounding ESL India in 2018.
Back in 2018, a popular player called Nikhil ‘forsaken’ Kumawat was found to have cheated during the eXTREMEISLAND Finals following a previous incident of cheating.
It was discovered that Kumawat had downloaded software to his PC that allowed him to cheat in-game.
As a consequence for this second offense, Kumawat was handed a 5-year ban from ESL India, and this was considered too lenient by many fans because ESIC (the Esports Integrity Commission) has previously stated that the punishment for a second cheating offense should be a lifetime ban.
After the feedback from fans that Kumawat’s cheating had not been dealt with appropriately, it’s hardly surprising that Bhatt’s account sharing has been met with swift and long-lasting consequences.
What Happens Now?
Since Bhatt has not received a lifetime ban from esports owing to the fact that this has been his first cheating offense, he will be free to rejoin ESIC and ESL India after May 23rd 2023.
Whether or not Bhatt will continue to play with ESIC or ESL India following the completion of his sanction remains to be seen, and Bhatt has not commented publicly regarding the situation as of yet, so his plans for the future remain unclear.
Jimit Bhatt was banned from ESIC sporting events, including ESL India, for a period of 1 year, because he was found to have shared his account with other players, which violates several policies and codes of conduct put in place by Clash Royale developers, ESIC, and ESL India.
A year-long ban was deemed an appropriate punishment for a first offense following feelings that previous cheating incidents, such as those by Nikhil ‘forsaken’ Kumawat had not been treated seriously enough.
Bhatt will be eligible to rejoin competitive esports with ESIC after May 23rd 2023.