Russian teams banned from BLAST Premier events over Ukraine conflict
BLAST is the latest esports company to impose their own economic sanctions against Russian teams and companies over Ukraine crisis.
BLAST is the latest esports company to sever ties with Russian interests over the ongoing war of invasion by Russia into Ukraine. This severing is taking the form of canceling a CIS qualifier, and banning Russian-based CS:GO teams from their events for the foreseeable future.
"Due to the conflict in Ukraine, no Russian-based team will be invited to play in our events for the foreseeable future," BLAST said in a statement. "Our CIS qualifier has now also been cancelled. We are sorry to the fans and players from the CIS region for this decision, but we do not think it's appropriate that this event goes ahead at this time."
Indeed, it's unclear how long this conflict will go on for. As it stands, there are travel restrictions from Russia with the ongoing conflict, so even if teams were allowed to compete, they would have difficulty attending. And that's before even going into the PR issue that tournament organizers would have for allowing Russian teams to compete at this time.
Indeed, this anti-war messaging was at the heart of BLAST's statement.
"Gaming and esports unites people from all races, countries, and beliefs," they concluded. "We hope the situation on the world stage reflects this as soon as possible."
Esports continues to impose their own economic sanctions on Russia
BLAST isn't the only company that has announced they will be severing ties with Russian interests. Natus Vincere announced that they would no longer cooperate with ESFORCE Holding earlier today, as well.
Their statement condemns the ongoing conflict in Russia, and promised to break off any cooperation with Virtus Pro, Epic Esports Events, Cybersport.ru, and RuHub.
"It is the sixth day of war in Ukraine," their statement reads. "The Russian Army continues to attack civilian areas: hundred of thousands of residents have left their homes, while others continue to fight for the future of our country. When people are dying and thousands of destinieis are getting destroyed irreversible, there is no time for esports."
Specifically Na'vi cites issues with ESPORCE Holding publicly denying the conflict is even occurring in Ukraine.
WePlay Esports has also taken a hard-line stance against any country cooperating with Russian interests. Just two days again, they terminated cooperation with partners from the Republic of Belarus. This came only two days after severing ties with partners from Russia.
What will the impact be on the larger esports scene?
It's unclear at present what the long-term impact will be of these sanctions and the severing of ties. ESL, for example, has remained very quiet on all of this. They are slated to have both Virtus Pro and Gambit compete at ESL Pro League 15 next week in Germany. As they are both prominent Russian organizations, the world is watching for this reaction.
Should ESL follow BLAST's lead and ban these two teams in turn, teams could be called up to replace them. Gambit, meanwhile, has also denounced the conflict in Ukraine and has called for peace. It's unclear if teams that do so publicly will still be allowed to participate in these events.
Russia has long been a powerhouse in esports and gaming, and seeing their teams banned is a sad thing. After all, many of these teams are only bystanders of their government's policies and aggression. Their teams collectively rank 4th among prize earnings in esports across all games at over $53 million.
For all the latest on the Russia-Ukraine conflict's impact on esports, keep it locked here to Esports.gg.