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The Longest Bans In Gaming

With competitive games and esports more popular than ever before, it seems like there's a new story about a high profile ban making the rounds just about every day. There's no shortage of ways to get banned, from cheating in "GTA 5" to flaming the chat in "League of Legends," but most of the time you'll be back in the game after a short suspension.

Then there are the extreme cases. Some gamers have been banned for months or even years for various offenses. Behavior in-game and IRL can take down professional players, and even casual players can be removed from their favorite games for bending or breaking the rules. Sometimes these bans can stretch for absurd amounts of time, especially if a developer decides that a permaban just doesn't send a strong enough message.

Bans are often divisive, and for every person who celebrates seeing a cheater or rule-breaker getting taken out of a game, there will be someone rushing to their defense. Developers don't often roll back their decisions, but when they do, it can lead to all-new controversies. From the players who need to sit out a few months to those who won't be returning until the end of recorded history, here are some of the longest bans in gaming.

Zenon's Fortnite Ban

In 2020, a ban having nothing to do with cheating caused tremendous controversy in the "Fortnite" community. Epic has delivered some polarizing bans in the past, and even when the company is just following its own terms of service, some decisions can create uproar among fans. 

That was the case with the #FreeZenon campaign in 2020, which aimed to overturn Epic's ban of a nine-year-old "Fortnite" prodigy. According to Epic's rules, players need to be 13 in order to play competitively. Zenon had previously competed in paid tournaments, but he picked up more attention after placing in the FNCS Solo qualifiers.

Epic banned Zenon for 1,459 days, meaning he'll be allowed back into competitive play when he turns 13. Zenon was streaming on his Twitch account, which is run by his father, when the ban came through. Major competitive players like Ninja quickly came to Zenon's defense, arguing that the ban was unfair. As FaZe Banks wrote on Twitter, "Why create a game that's clearly targeted towards kids if you're not going to let them play it?" 

Of course, Zenon is still free to play the casual modes in "Fortnite" (per Fortnite Intel) but he won't be allowed in paid competitions, or even onto Arena mode, until his four year ban expires.

Forza's 8,000-year ban

Getting banned from a game for four years would be incredibly disappointing, but imagine getting banned for longer than the existence of most human civilizations. That's what happened when the custom livery on a player's car in "Forza Horizon 5" earned them an 8,000 year ban

Assuming that their descendants still have an Xbox and a decent internet connection, they'll be able to play the game again after December 31, 9999. After all, humanity is still using fire all these years later, so there's at least a small chance that "Forza Horizon 5" will still be around in the 29th century.

What earns someone a ban that lasts millenia? Well, a Reddit poster explained the situation in more detail. The car in question featured decals styled after a KFC advertisement. The player had replaced Colonel Sanders with an image of Kim Jong-Un and the hashtag "#SendNukes." These images violated the game's terms of service, which contain a rule against user-generated content depicting "certain notorious individuals." Turn 10 Studios isn't playing around with that rule, apparently.

CS:GO pro's second major offense

Long bans don't all come from age restrictions and offensive chicken advertisements. One "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" pro player discovered that a classic case of cheating will do the trick just as well. 

Nikhil "forsaken" Kumawat received a five-year ban from the game after being caught using an aimbot during 2018's Extremesland Zowie Asia "CS:GO" tournament (via Polygon). Considering he'd already gotten a six-month ban for cheating back in 2017, Kumawat is lucky this second offense didn't lead to a lifetime ban.

Ironically, Kumawat's ban didn't stem directly from the Extremesland Zowie Asia tournament. After Kumawat was caught using an aimbot at Extremesland, the Esports Integrity Coalition asked ESL India to investigate his performance at its Premiership earlier that year. After the investigation, the Coalition released a statement saying, "The same cheats used at eXtremesland was found on his SSD card from the Premiership and match analysis shows numerous examples of the cheats being used." The rest of Kumawat's team were found to be innocent, but his "CS:GO" fate was solidified.

The longest collegiate esports bans

Back in 2018, Blizzard's shady decisions regarding a "Hearthstone" ban landed the company in some hot water. According to NPR, Blitzchung, a player based in Hong Kong, lost his winnings from the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters Tournament and received a one year ban from the game after expressing support for Hong Kong in an official "Hearthstone" Twitch stream. 

Blizzard cited a tournament rule that bars any action that "brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image [sic]." However, fans were still outraged, with many pointing out that Chinese-based Tencent Holdings Limited owns a five percent stake in Blizzard.

Folling backlash, Blizzard later reduced Blitzchung's ban to six months, but then the company made it very clear that it wouldn't tolerate "Hearthstone" players speaking up for Hong Kong (via Esports Talk). Just a few days after the Blitzchung ban, the entire "Hearthstone" team from the American University received six-month bans for protesting in support of Hong Kong, holding up signs that read "Free Hong Kong" and "Boycott Blizzard" during a competition. The company made its decision swiftly and issued the longest ban ever seen in collegiate esports.

Rocket League pros throw a match

You can't get banned for being bad at a game, but you can be banned for pretending to be bad. Spectators learned this when Let's Play Live hosted the Rocket League Oceanic Championship in 2020, during which Team Esper and Team Fury faced off in a best-of-five series.

In the final match of the series, everyone watching noticed some shockingly poor plays coming from Team Esper, which allowed Team Fury to suddenly take back the match and claim victory in the series. The bizarre behavior from Team Esper prompted an investigation from Let's Play Live and "Rocket League" developer Psyonix.

Three days later, a joint statement announced that the investigation, which looked at gameplay footage and team chat logs, had found that two of Team Esper's three players had "deliberately compromised competitive integrity in order to lose Game 5 of their team's series against Team Fury." In other words, these pros had thrown the game

Gameplay footage showed two Team Esper players, Aiden 'delusioN' Hendry and Finlay 'Frenzyy' Rockach, repeatedly missing easy saves, dribbling the ball towards their own net, and even sitting motionless in the middle of the match (per Forbes). Both were banned from competitive play for a year, forfeiting their winnings from the 2020 Championship. On top of that, both were barred from competing in the Rocket League Championship Season 9. Their third teammate was found to be innocent, but Team Esper ultimately dropped all three players anyway.

PUBG crackdowns

"PUBG" is a popular battle royale that has seen a significant cheating problem in the past. Just a few years ago, PUBG Corp made a big push to cut down on cheating in the game, which meant issuing some major bans to players that couldn't follow the rules. 

A few years ago, one Redditor posted a screenshot showing that they'd been banned for a hundred years for "too many suspected complaints for using illegal software and abnormal game logs." His account was under investigation, but he would be able to play when the ban ran its course "even if the investigation is not completed during the period." PUBG Corp can look hopefully into that player's cheating complaints in less than a century, but the company isn't slowing down on issuing harsh penalties to anyone suspected of cheating. 

In a press release (via Win.gg), PUBG Corp announced that anyone caught cheating in "PUBG Mobile" would be banned for a minimum of ten years and their player ID would be published to further discourage cheating. Even that policy isn't nearly as harsh as what the company is doing to people creating and selling cheats for the game: In a press release from April 2018, the company revealed it had worked alongside Chinese authorities to arrest 15 suspected cheat developers.

A millenium without Counter-Strike

Professional gamers may not have the high profile of famous actors or politicians, but they're still public figures, which means their out-of-game activities can have a direct impact on their careers. Kotaku reported in 2017 that the E-Sports Entertainment Association, which runs "Counter-Strike" tournaments, had issued a major ban after discovering one player's "Malicious Activity" in community chat logs. Reece "bloominator" Bloom had his ESEA account banned until June 6, 3016 "due to his interactions with a member of the community."

Presumably the thousand year ban was intended to send a louder message than a standard permaban. Though the ESEA didn't officially clarify which specific "interactions" got Bloom banned, Kotaku reported that he was allegedly caught sending inappropriate messages to a fifteen-year-old girl on the platform shortly before the ban. 

Bloom issued an apology on Twitter, writing, "I hope some people can forgive me, but I understand if not." His account was deleted shortly thereafter, and it's likely he won't be heard from again anytime soon.

Tyler1's reversed lifetime ban

Tyler1, a "League of Legends" streamer, made a name for himself by being the self-proclaimed "most toxic player in North America". He built a following around raging during matches and hurling abuse at fellow players, but he was forced to stop streaming the game when the game's developer, Riot, issued an ID level because of his toxicity (via Polygon). The ban came through in April 2016 and might have been the end of Tyler1's "League" legacy. However, another burst of controversy reversed his fate.

In October 2017, Discord logs in which a Riot employee sounded off against Tyler1 made their way to Reddit. The employee wrote that Tyler1 "looks like a damn homunculus" and quipped that Tyler1 would fall victim to drug abuse. 

Tyler1's fans were outraged, and Riot quickly found itself in damage control mode. The company fired the employee who'd made the comments, but that wasn't enough for some gamers. It wasn't long before Riot decided to walk back its ID ban on Tyler1, who returned to streaming "League" in January 2018. In the end, his toxicity only kept him out of the game for just under two years.

See you in 2038, Dota 2

Back in 2019, "Dota 2" players started to notice some bizarrely long bans being issued by Valve. In the lead-up to a new season of "Dota 2," the company made an effort to reduce cheating by taking down as many problem accounts as possible. Additionally, Valve began blacklisting phone numbers to try and keep problem players from returning, but what really made the bans stand out was that they all lasted until January 19, 2038. As noted by PC Gamer, that's "the latest date that can be set using 32-bit time representation," so it's likely that these lengthy band are actually permanent. Reddit quickly saw an influx of people complaining that they had gotten a nearly two-decade ban for one reason or another. 

Of course, any time there's a big push to remove accounts, innocent gamers are going to get caught in the fray. Redditors noted that Valve was fixing the problem for anyone who'd been wrongfully banned until nearly "Blade Runner" times. Everyone else will have to find a different game to play for a long while.