Russian Valorant stars Shao & SUYGETSU request neutral flag amid Ukraine war
Former FunPlus Phoenix Valorant players Dmitry ‘SUYGETSU’ Ilyushin and Andrey ‘Shao’ Kiprsky have requested that their profile pages on Liquipedia display a neutral flag instead of the Russian one.
The two Russian players were officially released from FPX on November 7 and have been linked with the Ukrainian organization NAVI for the 2023 season. Both players had issues traveling in 2022 due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which caused their team to miss the first international VCT Masters tournament of the year, in Iceland.
SUYGETSU was also late to the second international event of the year in Denmark due to visa complications, causing the team to play their first matches with a substitute. According to his Twitter, SUYGETSU is staying in Serbia at the time of writing.
Ukrainian players have had a rough year in esports competition, with some having to go into hiding to escape the war. Some organizers and developers in esports have also barred organizations owned by Russian oligarchs, or funded by them, from competing or being represented in their events.
Gambit Esports was notably hit by these restrictions in Valorant as its team, featuring Russian players, had to change its name to M3 Champions in August to continue to play in the Valorant Champions Tour.
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The CIS Valorant Regional League was also canceled in 2022 due to the ongoing conflict. Recently, it was announced that the regional competition will return in 2023.
Two Valorant players from Russia request a neutral flag
The Liquipedia pages of both Shao and SUYGETSU now include a message saying that the players have asked to be referred to as countryless as they “do not want to be represented by the Russian flag.”
Shao and SUYGETSU will reportedly join NAVI alongside FPX teammates Kyrylo ‘ANGE1’ Karasov, Pontus ‘Zyppan’ Eek, and head coach Erik ‘d00mbr0s’ Sandgren. The starting lineup is expected to be rounded out by Mehmet ‘cNed’ İpek, who left Acend on November 7.
NAVI is one of the ten organizations that have partnered with Riot Games to join the EMEA VCT league and will compete in Berlin, where the tournament will be based. The 2023 circuit will start with the Kickoff tournament in Brazil, with all 30 partnered teams in attendance.