The Dota community were outraged when a player for Outsiders appeared to draw a Z symbol during a pause

Controversy in the EEU DPC Playoffs today, as a player from the Outsiders appeared to draw a Z symbol during a pause—a symbol associated with support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The incident, which took place during today’s series between Mind Games and Outsiders, was quickly erased but nonetheless caused a stir.

During the pause, Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko, a member of the Outsiders drew a Z, before Pure, and two other team members quickly erased it. However, the drawing was still spotted by viewers and members of the community. Outsiders is the mantle that the current Virtus.pro roster is playing under for the EEU DPC Playoffs.

The letter Z is a single letter abbreviation for the Russian term “For Victory.” In the Cyrillic alphabet, this is written as “за победу,” but is romanized as “za pobedu.” The romanization is used to make the symbol recognizable to the wider world.

Controversy in a Letter

The drawing of the Z instantly drew the ire of many on Twitter. Ukrainian esports advocate and co-founder of Maincast, Vitalii Volochai, was the one of the first to decry the action. He felt that the Z symbol should result in a indefinite ban for the Outsiders.

However, a plethora of other community members quickly responded, along with Beyond the Summit, who said they were forwarding the incident to Valve.

Meanwhile, a Reddit thread on the subject rocketed to the front page. Many users called for Outsiders player Pure to be banned. However, if we’re waiting for an official ruling from Valve, we might expect to wait a while.

Appropriate action for the Outsiders

The Z drawing appears to be deliberate on the side of Pure. However, the quick erasure and the seeming acknowledgment that this is wrong, suggests this is a bad joke made in bad taste on a large stage. We acknowledged in a previous article that any tournament organizer taking on an EEU/CIS replacement tournament would face massive controversy. We just didn’t expect it to be because a player showed open support for the invasion of Ukraine. 

Overall, Valve and BTS will have a difficult decision on their hands. Banning an Outsiders player for drawing a Z will seem disproportionate and over the top to some. While failing to do anything will paint them as supporters for the symbol’s message. Worse still is the deferral to Valve, who are not known for their swift action on anything. We will update this page as more information emerges.

Update:

Outsiders player Pure responded to the incident on the Virtus.pro Twitter. In the video, he stated that the incident was accidental

Update 2:

BTS has disqualified and removed Outsiders from the tournament. Their matches are forfeit, and Mind Games will advance to the Upper Bracket Final.

Michael Hassall -

Michael Hassall

| Twitter: @hoffasaurusx

Michael is a UK-based content creator who caught the esports bug in 2010, but took eight years to figure out he should write about it. Throwing away a promising career in marketing and PR, he now specialises in MOBAs, covering League of Legends, Dota 2, and esports in general since 2019. When not glued to tournaments taking place on the other side of the globe, he spends time nurturing an unhealthy addiction to MMOs and gacha games.