Virtus.pro has today released a highly inflammatory statement accusing the organizers of the GAMERS GALAXY Invitational of blackmail.
Virtus.pro has released a statement accusing the organizers of the GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 blackmail. The post was made on Virtus.pro’s official website, with accompanying posts on social media.
The statement, posted in the afternoon of March 1st, states that the organizers delivered an ultimatum to Virtus.pro players who arrived in Dubai under the auspice of an invitation by Nigma Galaxy SEA. The ultimatum allegedly stated that the Virtus.pro team must make a public statement on the situation in Ukraine or be removed from the tournament.
The post goes on to state that players were allegedly threatened with false claims that they had fallen ill with COVID to prevent them from playing. Furthermore, the statement claims that WePlay!, who Virtus.pro say are the contractors for the GAMERS GALAXY event, put forward these conditions. They alleged that WePlay! had threatened to disrupt the tournament.
Major Allegations by Virtus.pro against GAMERS GALAXY
These extremely inflammatory accusations paint a very negative view of the GAMERS GALAXY event, with players coerced into making statements. A huge portion of the esports world has condemned the invasion of Ukraine. But the alleged coercion of statements represents a dark path to tread.
In their post, Virtus.pro states that they have “never prohibited its players or employees from expressing personal opinions. Many of our players with huge media weight took advantage of their right to freely broadcast thoughts – including YEKINDAR, buster, OldBoy, BatulinS, m1loN, Jame and others. Colleagues from the RuHub studio, who, like us, are part of the ESforce esports holding, took part in peaceful rallies and spoke out on social networks.”
The latter portion of the post makes reference to now-deleted tweets on the RuHub Twitter.
Further sanctions against Russian Esports
And yet while the statement acknowledges that many of Virtus.pro’s players and employees are Ukranian, it doubles down on what it calls an “attack” Russian and CIS teams. They go on to call the sanctions many esports teams have made against Russian organizations a “witch hunt.”
Earlier today, Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere announced it would break all ties with Virtus.pro and parent company ESFORCE. Similarly, BLAST Premier today announced that no Russian-based team will be invited to play in their events for the foreseeable future. These sanctions obviously support Ukraine, but have a direct negative effect on Russian players.
Furthermore, the allegations that players are being threatened to make statements are alarming. Speaking out against the regime is not a simple matter for Russian players, who may face imprisonment and prosecution for their words at home. No one should be forced into making a statement against their will.
We reached out to the organizers of the GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 for comment about Virtus.pro’s statement and their allegations. This article will be updated upon their response.