German-based esports tournament organizer ESL Gaming has imposed sanctions on teams associated with Russia.
This news follows an unfathomable week when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine with military forces. It’s no secret that the world at large has begun boycotting Russia, including Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Recently, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on those in the video game space to follow suit.
As a result of the Prime Minister’s call to action, ESL announced the banning of Russian-based esports organizations from the ongoing CS:GO Pro League. Russian players are still welcome to participate, but teams such as Virtus.Pro and Gambit Esports will have no presence. Following the successful IEM Katowice CS:GO tournament where FaZe Clan claimed the Championship over G2 Esports, ESL will no longer permit organizations with ties to the Russian government.
ESL Statement on the situation
ESL had this to say Regarding Russia & Ukraine, full statement can be found here:
“On the upcoming ESL Pro League, we made the decision that organizations with apparent ties to the Russian government, including individuals or organizations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict, will not be allowed to be represented (currently we identified two teams – Virtus.pro and Gambit).”
Furthermore, ESL acknowledged that not all Russian players agree with their country’s decision to inflict harm upon Ukraine. It’s an unfortunate circumstance for the players, who are now in a challenging position. The esports organizer and production company left the door open for Russian players to continue competing. Despite barring their respective organizations:
“We recognize that players are not complicit with this situation, and we do not think it is in the spirit of esports to impose sanctions on individual players. The Virtus.pro and Gambit players are therefore welcome to compete under a neutral name, without representing their country, organization or their teams’ sponsors on their clothing or otherwise.”
CIS Tournaments Postponed, What’s Next?
Additionally, the organization has officially delayed all Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) competitions until further notice. ESL’s announcement comes just one day after BLAST Premier – another CS:GO tournament organizer – canceled the CIS qualifier and barred all Russian-based teams from participating in future events. While not as harsh, it appears more entities involved in gaming are willing to band together in support of Ukraine.
Following this news, it’s challenging to say whether Russian players will compete in the ESL Pro League. The invitation remains, but competitors may have to support themselves financially, considering they cannot represent their respective organizations.
We’ll be sure to provide more updates as this story continues to develop.
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