The team is not leaving fans behind.
Russian esport organization Team Spirit announced that players and staff relocated to Belgrade, Serbia amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Team Spirit has released a statement saying that both CS:GO and Dota 2 teams are relocated to Serbia along with part of the organization's employees. Spirit also mentioned in the announcement that they were forced to stop their extension in Moscow. For now, the TI10 winning org will be busy building new office and training facilities in Belgrade.
“The accessibility of esports has always been its unique feature. Wherever you live, whatever you do, whatever you believe in, the doors to esports have always been open for you. However, everything is changing, and one of these changes is the current situation between Russia and Ukraine, where many of our players and employees come from. Given the circumstances, both practical and ethical, the decision to relocate seems like the only right one.”
Team Spirit's CEO Nikita "Cheshir" Chukalin stated that for now, the organization relocated two rosters and 60% of its staff in a comment to Escorenews. In the future players and employees will be free to choose location and place to live according to their preferences and working needs. But right now relocating became a question of their well-being.
Also Chukalin answered why exactly they chose Serbia as a temporary home for Team Spirit. He mentioned a few factors that were important for the organization in choosing Serbia:
- Geographical location in terms of logistics and ping optimization;
- The simplicity of becoming a resident as well as legal operations in the country;
- Economic dimension.
Team Spirit is not going to leave fans behind
Cheshir highlighted that Spirit is not planning to slam out and abandon Russian fans and community. The organization will continue making content in Russian and communicating with the audience. Even right now teams and players keep giving interviews, streaming, and posting news for fans from CIS.
"We associate ourselves with the whole Russian-speaking society and that will never change. Everyone who rooted for us during all the ups and downs, our true fans means a lot to us"
First rumors about Team Spirit relocating started with talks about players willing to change their residence and get Serbian passports. Cheshir didn't deny this idea but made it clear that management not going to influence players' decisions.
Despite the detailed explanation why Team Spirit relocated to new place, they again faced backlash from part of the community. Another time organization avoided mentioning an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and called it "current events" and "current situation". After a huge wave of criticism Spirit had to publish an answer saying that they are not afraid of the word "war" but didn't change their statement anyway.
The Stockholm Major on the horizon
The last tournament for Team Spirit's Dota 2 team was GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational where TI-winning roster got 4th place. However, they are remembered in this tournament not only for their performance. During their first game on stage, they appeared in white T-shirts with the word PEACE instead of the team uniform. It was an extremely significate move considering that team consists of 3 Russians and 2 Ukrainian players, and onу of them, Mira, couldn't attend the event due to the ongoing war.
For now, Team Spirit stays at bootcamp in Serbia and waits for coming announcements from Valve. The indefinite delay of EEU DPC might lead to some worrying issues and the possibility that current TI-champions may miss the next Major tournament in Stockholm, Sweden.