Virtus.pro’s CS:GO team will compete in ESL Pro League 15 under the tag ‘Outsiders’ following ESL’s ban of organizations with ties to the Russian government, Dexerto has confirmed.
The CIS team will compete under a neutral name after ESL elected to impose a ban on all “organizations with apparent ties to the Russian government” following the Kremlin’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24.
Virtus.pro are one of the two Russian-based organizations that ESL believes have ties to the Kremlin. Russian state-run insurance company Sogaz has a controlling stake in Virtus.pro’s ownership group VK, and is one of the companies included on the European Union’s sanctions list imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Despite this, Virtus.pro claimed that they were “not connected” to the Russian government, adding that they had provided ESL with documentation to this effect.
The Russian organization showed their displeasure with ESL’s decision, which they described as “a prime example of ‘the cancel culture.” Still, Virtus.pro stressed they would not stand in the way of the players competing in the tournament under a different tag if they so wished.
Virtus.pro’s CS:GO team has two players from both Russia and Kazakhstan, and one from Latvia. In a recent interview with Sportacentrs, Mareks ‘YEKINDAR’ Gaļinskis, the Latvian player, said that the future was “uncertain” as travel restrictions and tournament sanctions could affect his team.
Gambit, the other organization identified by ESL as having ties to the Russian government, have not yet stated whether their team will compete in ESL Pro League 15, which begins on March 9.