Virtus.Pro to play in ESL Pro League as ‘Outsiders’

March 9, 2022

The decision comes after ESL’s banning of Russian organisations.

CIS esports organisation Virtus.Pro will have its CS:GO team compete at the ESL Pro League Season 15 under the name ‘Outsiders’ after ESL’s banning of all organisations with ties to the Russian government.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ESL had put out a notice stating that all teams with apparent ties to the Russian government would be banned from competing in the tournament. Virtus.Pro is a Russia-based organisation, and Russian state-run insurance firm Sogaz has a majority stake in Virtus.Pro’s ownership group VK, which is also one of the companies that is on the European Union’s list of sanctions imposed on Russia.

Virtus.Pro maintained that it was not linked to the Russian government and had released a statement saying that the ESL’s decision was ‘a prime example of the cancel culture’. Virtus.Pro also mentioned that even though it was barred from competing, it would allow its players to compete under a different name and tag if they wanted to. The team has two players from Russia — Evgeny ‘FL1T’ Lebedev and Dzhami ‘Jame’ Ali. Virtus.Pro’s Latvian player Mareks ‘YEKINDAR’ Galinskis had earlier spoken about how he was ‘uncertain’ about his and the team’s future due to travel restrictions and tournament sanctions. 

Virtus.Pro is one of the two teams that were banned by ESL due to their ties with the Russian government, with the other one being Gambit, which has four Russian players on its roster — Timofey ‘interz’ Yakushin, Sergey ‘Ax1Le’ Rykhtorov, Dmitry ‘sh1ro’ Sokolov and Vladislav ‘nafany’ Gorshkov. Abay ‘Hobbit’ Khasenov is the only one on the Gambit team who is not a Russian; he hails from Kazakhstan. Gambit is yet to confirm whether it or its players will compete in the tournament or not.

The ESL Pro League Season 15 kicks off from March 9 in Germany, with ‘Outsiders’ set to play its first match on March 16, while Gambit is scheduled to play on March 23.

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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