ESL rules against Gambit and Virtus.pro amid Russian invasion of Ukraine
ESL is the latest tournament organizer in esports to make a ruling against Russian organizations following the country's invasion of Ukraine.
The ruling: Alongside adding rules against Russian teams, the company is "working on" providing support via donations, as well as paid time off for those who wish to volunteer to help and employees that have been affected by the invasion.
- Described as an "initial" ruling, organizations with ties to the Russian government will not be eligible to compete in the ESL Pro League following a joint decision with ESL and its partnered teams.
- As such, the tournament organizer has decided to make both Gambit and Virtus.pro — organizations financially tied to Russian oligarchs — ineligible to compete in the upcoming event.
- However, the rosters themselves will be able to compete in the league under a "neutral name" and clothing that don't promote their country, organization, or teams' sponsors in any form.
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The landscape: Multiple parties in esports have already ruled against the aforementioned Russian organizations.
- Mykhailo Fedorov, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, published an open letter on March 2 calling for all gaming and esports companies to exclude Russian gamers and competitors.
- Other tournament organizers such as BLAST, Elisa Esports, and WePlay have all decided to prevent Russian organizations from competing in their upcoming events or pledged to stop working with Russian companies in general.
- Natus Vincere, an esports organization from Ukraine, announced on March 1 that it would no longer work with Russian esports holding company ESforce's properties (which includes Virtus.pro).