The short answer to the question in the title is no, they did not break any rules.
ESL India's Facebook Page has posted an update on the rule regarding usage of standins at the ESL India Premiership Master league which states that the tournament will continue to allow teams to use stand-ins. However, the chosen stand-in can only play for one team till the end of that phase.
The rules change comes shortly after a loophole came to light recently within the ESL India Premiership's rulebook after the Indian CS:GO community voiced concerns about Marzil playing for multiple teams who were all part of the Masters League.
Another player called Sagnik ‘hellfighter’ Roy was also spotted playing for team GoFigure while having played as a standin in for Signify CS:GO in atleast one of their previous matches.
Though in neither of the two cases were any rules broken as per what was stated within the ESL India CS:GO rulebook, the players and teams in question received a fair amount of criticism as members of the Indian CS:GO community opined that these moves were not done in good taste.
Marzil Playing For Multiple Teams
In this case, Marzil was spotted playing as a stand-in for two different teams, Wings and Signify. At that time, he was not registered with any team for the ESL India Premiership 2019 which as per the earlier tournament rules gave him the freedom to compete as a stand-in for any team that was in need of a 7th player.
Since Marzil was not officially registered with any team, he could not be considered as a tournament participant and was therefore eligible to standin for as many teams as he wanted to without breaking any rules.
The rulebook also stated that,
“All teams in Masters league are allowed to take up any player who is not registered with any other team (as active roster + one substitute) in the Masters league at any point of the league as the seventh player.”
Here, ESL had mentioned that at any point a Masters league team can pick up any player who was not registered with any other team as the 7th player. However, there was no mention of that 7th player having to be restricted to only a single team.
While Marzil standing in for both Wings and Signify was met with outcries from the other participating teams and members of the Indian CS:GO community, neither him nor the teams in question had broken any of the rules. But with the implementation of the new rule, this would no longer be considered legal. To correct the situation, Signify CS:GO has secured Marzil as a permanent substitute for the rest of the phase.
Hellfighter Playing As Stand-In for Signify
As for hellfighter, he was registered as a player for team GoFigure that had participated in the Starter Cup while also playing as a stand-in for Signify CS:GO in atleast one of their matches.
The ESL CS:GO rulebook stated that,
“A tournament participant is a Player who is participating in the tournament. No Player can be part of more than one team while taking part in ESL INDIA Premiership 2019.”
If one were to look at this rule in isolation then yes, hellfighter and/or Signify are in violation of it. However, this rule contradicts the above mentioned rule that allows teams to use standins who are not competing in any other team in the Masters league. And therein lies the loophole that the ESL India Premiership has attempted to fix with their latest update.?
With a lot of Indian teams now recruiting foreign players as part of their rosters, the rule does provide some much-needed breathing space as these teams continually face visa and other issues with these players.
Also, there are times when more than one player is unable to attend a match for a particular team and this is where the last minute 7th player comes in handy. Though the rule is really helpful and gives teams some wiggle room, it has surely been exploited beyond its intended purpose.
ESL India has come out with a great fix as the flexibility still remains while no one abuses it beyond its specified objective.
Disclosure: The ESL India Premiership is organized by NODWIN Gaming who is a client of and a minority investor in AFK Gaming.