- Natus Vincere ceased all partnerships with ESforce and its subsidiaries
- The reason is a Twitter post by an ESforce brand called RuHub that claimed the company is supportive of the invasion of Ukraine
- RuHub later said that the post isn’t genuine and comes from a fired employee but the damage was already done
Natus Vincere has pulled back from its partnerships with ESforce and its brands, following a pro-war tweet.
NAVI Cancels Its Partnerships with ESforce and Its Brands
The Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere has announced that it will no longer cooperate with the Russian esports company ESforce Holding – the company which owns Virtus.Pro and other esports brands. This means that NAVI is no longer on friendly terms with either of ESforce’s subsidiaries.
The reason for NAVI’s decision is ESforce Holding’s denial of the horrors of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This isn’t the first accusation against the latter company as Gamers Galaxy just had issues with Virtus.pro which said it refuses to politicize esports.
The main issue stems from a Twitter post from RuHub (another ESforce subsidiary) which claimed that all employees opposing the invasion will be laid off. RuHub later announced that the post wasn’t genuine and had been actually written by a former worker who had unauthorized access to the account. Regardless of whether that is true, the damage was already done.
NAVI is firm that ESforce Holding and its subsidiaries are refusing to acknowledge the horrors of what is going on in Ukraine. It condemned the ESforce employees who turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Ukrainian people and praised those who speak up despite the peer pressure. Regardless of whether ESforce and its brands truly support the invasion or not, it is a fact that all of them are yet to make a public post that condemns the war.
The War Takes a Toll on The Unity of the Esports Community
Since RuHub’s deleted pro-war post, many Dota 2 esports figureheads have spoken up against ESforce. Many international Dota 2 talents, including Kyle “Kyle” Freedman and Robson “TeaGuvnor” Merritt, suggested that athletes should stop participating in events sponsored by the Russian company. TeaGuvnor reminded that many sports and esports organizations have already taken actions against Russian organizations which refuse to acknowledge the war.
Perhaps some organizations aren’t speaking up out of fear of getting arrested. As a reminder, thousands of Russian citizens were arrested for protesting against the invasion. Virtus.pro, a subsidiary of ESforce, retaliated, calling the action against Russian organizations “a witch hunt” and saying that esports shouldn’t get involved in politics – something that traditional sports do all the time. This sentiment echoed in the words of the Ukrainian CS:GO legend Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev who also said that esports should teach unity.
It is clear that many people in Russia aren’t supportive of the invasion. However, with times being as troubled as they are, people are easy to jump to conclusions. Let us hope that ESforce isn’t pro-war as NAVI said and that the esports community will manage to stand strong against this storm.