Two years after being banned for cheating, Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian is staging a comeback to the competitive circuits of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
As a former member of the French roster of Titan, he was regarded as one of the best emerging talents from his region. In the months leading to his ban, KQLY managed to secure the DreamHack Stockholm Invitational and was a favorite to win the 2014 DreamHack Winter Major. However, just a week before the event, a stealth update for the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system ousted him for using illegal third-party cheating software. As a result, KQLY was permanently banned by Valve from all future competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive play.
However, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) changed its policies last month to allow players to compete again if their ban is over two years old. Do note that the ruling adheres to only events conducted by ESL. Players banned by VAC are still not eligible for tournaments organized by Valve.
Since 2014, KQLY has been sitting quietly on the sidelines. The recent change in policy gives him the opportunity to return. Vexed Gaming has announced that KQLY will be competing on its roster, as part of a trial-run at the upcoming ESL Championnat National event in Paris.
“The esports scene is in rapid growth and it has evolved to become highly professionalised,” said Vexed COO Mark “Princess” Weller. “However, the consequences of cheating have always been a grey area, but with the latest ESL announcement on the subject we believe this to be a first step towards a more transparent and unified rule set on the cheating problems.”
The move has sparked an outcry from community members who are not in favor of seeing banned players compete on the same front, despite serving their sentences. However, there are some who are calling for a truce.
Duncan “Thorin” Shields, esports journalist and analyst, highlighted that there is no proof of KQLY cheating in professional circuits and the ban was for him doing so in casual games.
The most ridiculous part about the vitriol against KQLY is we have no clue if he cheated beyond a non-competitive game.
— Thorin (@Thooorin) May 1, 2017
ESL Championnat National starts on May 2, and features teams such as EnVyUs Academy and Epsilon France. KQLY will be filling the spot of Pedro “AlluM3tt3” Morais, and reuniting with his former team members from the Counter-Strike: Source days.