- The Ukrainian powerhouse has removed all its Russian CS:GO players from its academy roster and development program
- Many NAVI players and staff are involved in the war helping their country in one way or another
- NAVI’s CEO says it’s important to keep paying Ukrainian players, “even if we do have a couple who are in the army”
Ukrainian organization Natus Vincere is “not going to work with people who live in Russia and who pay taxes to the Russian Federation.”
NAVI Removes Russian Players from Junior and Academy Rosters
More than a month into the war in Ukraine, its effects are still visible outside the directly affected areas. One such is the burgeoning esports scene in the country. Natus Vincere, a Ukrainian powerhouse organization, popular for its achievements in CS:GO has been very vocal against Russia's invasion of their home country. The organization has both Ukrainian and Russian players in its various CS:GO rosters, but recently it evicted all of its Russian talents.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Natus Vincere, or just NAVI for short, was very vocal about the event. Many players condemned the attack on their country. They are trying to help Ukraine in any way they can, like CS:GO champion s1mple who donated thousands to the Ukrainian armed forces.
With the organization being so active, it is no wonder that they banned all their Russian players. “We (NAVI) are not going to work with people who live in Russia and who pay taxes to the Russian Federation,” said Yevhen Zolotarov – CEO of NAVI.
This decision was announced first by Yana Diachenko while hosting an interview with some NAVI Junior players. Later, the organization came out with an official statement, saying it is parting ways with Vladislav “latt1kk” Vydrin and Dmitry “fe2nk” Gladskikh both from NAVI Junior, and Vladislav “xiELO-” Lysov from NAVI Youth.
How the War Affected NAVI
For a month now, large cities in Ukraine have been hit by airstrikes and artillery. Russian forces have penetrated deep into Ukrainian territory, and although they have vacated the Kyiv region due to logistical issues and heavy casualties by Ukrainian forces, Russia still controls large parts of Eastern Ukraine.
Despite this, the lives of NAVI players and staff have been rocked by this invasion. “Every NAVI employee is doing something connected to this war, and we are OK with it,” shares Zolotarov in an interview for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Our main goal right now is not to lose anyone, to keep on paying employees — even if we do have a couple who are in the army. We will keep paying them because they are protecting our homeland, and us, as well.”
The interviewer also asked Zolotarov how is the organization doing financially, to which the CEO responded that NAVI is fine thanks to its partners in the EU. “We lost only one partner and it was our own decision — a Russian bank, Tinkoff, that supported NAVI,” Zolotarov said.
With its decision to ban Russian players from its roster, NAVI becomes yet another organization to condemn the war in Ukraine. Unlike others, however, NAVI’s players and staff are a lot more directly impacted by it.