Esports Organizations That Have Severed Ties With Russian Teams and Companies
Over the past few days, the esports community has been expressing criticism and disapproval regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Since the invasion began on 24th Feb, players and teams have shown solidarity with Ukraine while gradually ties are being cut off and restrictions are being imposed on many Russian teams and organizations. Both Ukrainian and foreign esports organizations have taken steps in this direction.
In fact, on 2nd March, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, called on game developers and esports platforms to temporarily block Russian accounts and cease participation of Russian teams in international esports events. Fedorov believed such a move by esports and game developers would motivate Russian citizens to "proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression."
Several esports companies have also either severed ties with Russian teams and organizations or have temporarily issued sanctions against them.
An overview of esports organizations issuing sanctions against Russian teams and companies
Tournament organizer ESL released a statement on 2nd March where it stated that all organizations with ties to the Russian government, "including individuals or organizations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict", would not be allowed to compete in the ESL Pro League Season 15. ESL recognized Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports as the organizations under this category. Players of these two teams could still compete independently. ESL also paused all events scheduled in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region.
As a sign of support for Ukraine, CS:GO tournament organizer Elisa Esports, on 2nd March, barred Russian teams from participating in its events until further notice.
Beyond the Summit
On 2nd March, tournament organizer Beyond the Summit (BTS) said it discontinued its English coverage of the Dota 2 Champions League S8, run by Epic Esports, and the Russian-language coverage of the BTS Pro Series S10, handled by RuHub.
BLAST, a CS:GO tournament organizer, announced on Twitter on 1st March that it would not invite teams from Russia to its tournaments for the foreseeable future, citing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The sanction was coupled with the cancelation of the CIS qualifier (WePlay CIS Masters: Spring 2022) for BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown 2022. BLAST said that it was not the right time to proceed with the event.
In a statement issued on Twitter on 1st March, Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere (NAVI) cited the public denial of the "horror" taking place in Ukraine as the reason for cutting all ties with ESforce Holding. ESforce Holding is a Russian holding company that owns several prominent businesses, such as Virtus.pro, RuHub, Epic Esports Events, and cybersports.ru. ESforce Holding is owned by VK (formerly Mail.ru Group), which reportedly has ties to the Kremlin.
Ukrainian company WePlay Holding announced it was severing all ties with all its Russian partners on 26th Feb. “Starting from now we won’t advertise any brands of Russian origin in our broadcasts and for our audience,” the organization wrote.