The Russian esports organization Virtus.pro commented on the decision of ESL to remove the team from participation in the ESL Pro League Season 15. At the same time, the club emphasized that, if desired, players will be able to play in the championship under a neutral status.
On March 2, we received a message from the ESL tournament operator that we and Gambit Esports were being suspended from participation in the ESL Pro League Season 15 tournament. This decision was preceded by a written request from ESL about the legal and commercial aspects of our club: where we are registered, who is our owners and partners, whether they are subject to sanctions and so on. We have responded to this request in detail and with supporting documents.
Obviously, the request was only a formality, and our answer was of little importance. In a public announcement about our suspension, ESL cites our alleged connection with the state and companies under sanctions as the reason for the disqualification. However, in correspondence with the club's management, a new wording appears: that although we are not actually connected, we are perceived as a team associated with the state.
We cannot agree with this approach. It is obvious that now there are no rational criteria on the basis of which we are removed from tournaments, except for personal prejudice and pressure from the outside. We saw this at the Dubai tournament with WePlay - and we see this trend continuing.
The tournament operator ESL itself offered our players to play under a neutral flag, with a different name and without club jerseys. ESL refuses to engage in a dialogue with the club management regarding participation in the tournament, discussing all issues directly with the players.
We understand that we are faced with a vivid manifestation of the culture of cancellation. However, in this case, we are not given ultimatums, pushing us to take certain actions. Therefore, we will not respond with aggression to aggression and prohibit our players from participating in this tournament. They spent a lot of time and effort to become true professionals. And we, unlike tournament operators, are not ready to devalue other people's efforts. Virtus.pro players are always bears, and if they decide to take part in the tournament, we will support them.
Recall that earlier ESL suspended the Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports teams from participating in their tournaments, including the upcoming ESL Pro League Season 15. The tournament operator explained his decision by the fact that the organizations are somehow connected with the Russian Government. However, ESL did not restrict the players and allowed them to compete in the championship, but under a neutral status.
In addition, recently Virtus.pro was removed from GAMERS GALAXY: Invitational Series Dubai 2022. It was reported that the unofficial reason was the club's lack of position regarding the military conflict in Ukraine. At the same time, the organizers of the championship did not make a statement, deciding to exclude the team from the schedule.