ESL bans Russian Virtus.Pro and Gambit from ESL Pro League Season 15
Organizations with apparent ties to the Russian government will not be allowed to be represented at ESL Pro League Season 15. For now, this decision directly affects Virtus.Pro and Gambit.
Esports tournament organizer ESL has announced its decision to remove Virtus.Pro and Gambit from the upcoming ESL Pro League tournament. ESL Pro League Season 15 will not feature any organizations with direct relations to the Russian government.
"On the upcoming ESL Pro League, which is governed by the participating teams and ESL, we made the joint 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)."
This decision comes soon after BLAST also announced similar measures barring Russian teams from playing in their tournaments.
What about the players?
The statement emphasizes that the players can still compete although they won’t be able to compete representing Russia-linked 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.
This is a mature decision by ESL and will allow the players belonging to these two organizations to still compete.
In addition to these changes, ESL also announced it is pausing all scheduled competitions in the CIS region and they will be played at a later date.
What does this mean for ESL Pro League?
The ESL Pro League will continue as normal with the same format and dates. It’s still not clear whether the players will play in this event or back out now that they cannot represent their orgs at ESL Pro League. Esports.gg will continue to update this article with the latest information.
ESL has also announced it is actively looking to support Ukraine via donations to UNHCR, paid time off for employees to volunteer for humanitarian relief and paid time off for affected colleagues.
Russia's Ukraine invasion has affected several esports teams, tournaments and personalities. With Russia looking at possibly enforcing martial law soon, speaking out against the invasion could be problematic for individuals residing in the country.
The ESL Pro League kicks off on March 9 and features the best CS: GO teams in action. The tournament, which has become a marquee event through the CS: GO calendar year, will not see participation by Russian-linked orgs this year. For now, this directly impacts Virtus.Pro and Gambit, although the players can compete in ESL Pro League Season 15 under a neutral name.
ESL Pro League Season 15 features 24 teams competing for a $823,000 prize pool. The tournament employs a round robin format for the group stage. The playoffs are single elimination matches with the Grand finals being a Bo5 affair.
Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest CS: GO news and updates.