ESL and BLAST have lifted the ban on Virtus.Pro allowing the team to shed the Outsiders tag and return to their iconic moniker.
Virtus.pro's players will once again be able to attend events under the team's official banner. The team will finally be able to shed the neutral tag that they had been using since March 2022, when ESL banned organizations with ties to the Russian government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The ban forced Virtus.pro to attend events with a neutral name, which led to the formation of the Outsiders tag, under which the team won the IEM Rio Major. A similar ban applied to Gambit, who were also affected by the restrictions. The squad had to attend events under the Players name until they were transferred to Cloud9.
The ban has now been lifted for Virtus.pro, six months after their sale to ex-ESforce CEO Emin Antonyan and Aram Karamanukyan, who took over as CEO briefly before the appointment of another former ESforce chief, Nikolai Petrossian. While the continuous involvement of former ESForce members may raise some eyebrows, the sale cleared the organization of its links to the Russian government in the eyes of tournament organizers. This change has finally led to the removal of their bans starting from March 22 for BLAST and March 28 for ESL.
BLAST has immediately allowed Virtus.pro to participate in their events, while ESL has also lifted the ban and will allow the team to compete under their official banner after the end of ESL Pro League Season 17. Virtus.pro's first outing under their official banner will be the European RMR A event for the Paris Major on April 6-9.
The decision to lift the ban was welcomed by Virtus.pro's CEO Nikolai Petrossian, who expressed his gratitude to BLAST and ESL for their in-depth reviews that confirmed the club had met the requirements for reintegration. FISSURE was the first tournament organizer to invite Virtus.pro's players under their official banner, with Dzhami "Jame" Ali and company participating in the quarter-finals of BetBoom Playlist Urbanistic 2023.
Outsiders Stickers Boom in Price
While the return of the iconic brand itself is big news in itself, the impact has already been felt on the CSGO stickers market. Stickers for the now-defunct Outsiders tag have risen more than 1000% in value already, with prices only expected to go higher.