- The Washington Post spoke with a few esports personalities with ties to Ukraine
- Some players were able to leave the country, while others couldn’t and are living on the edge
- Many esports organizations have helped fleeing Ukrainians find shelter and food
The war in Ukraine has forever changed the lives of the countless esports athletes and gamers who live there. Many of them were forced to flee from the Russian invaders and seek shelter in smaller cities or other countries. The Washington Post interviewed players and athletes who have connections to Ukraine.
An Athlete Who Remained in Ukraine
Viktor “somedieyoung” Orudzhev, a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, never believed that the horrors from his favorite game would happen in real life. All of his family doubted that Russia would really attack and were terrified when the war erupted.
The happenings forced the athlete and his family to grab all the necessities and flee Kyiv. They went to Kostopil, a smaller town where his grandmother lives. Orudzhev noted that the panicked people were leaving en masse, causing the journey, which usually takes four hours, to last eighteen hours instead.
“For me, it was really hard to understand what’s going on in the beginning — who’s going to start a war in these times?” the athlete said in an interview with the Post.
The player added that his life has been forever changed and he can’t continue his job and compete as he no longer has a proper internet connection. He concluded that his family is now in the process of building a bunker in their house in Kostopil.
Orudzhev was devastated when he learned some of his friends had perished in combat. He said that many of his international friends had offered help, but sadly there wasn’t much they could do besides protesting and sending monetary help.
Some Helped the Refugees Escape from the War
Jérôme Coupez is the founder and chief executive of Prodigy Talent Agency – an agency for esports players. He was lucky to be outside of Ukraine when the chaos began since he was in Poland for the IEM Katowice CS:GO competition.
At first, Coupez couldn’t believe the news. Then, the players working with the agency started flooding him with messages saying that they have to hide in shelters. One of them even wanted to grab arms and defend their country but wasn’t allowed to because of their lack of training. Coupez noted that the happening didn’t cause antagonism between the agency’s Ukrainian and Russian players as all of them were horrified by the invasion.
Coupez then proceeded to help players stuck in Ukraine get out by covering their travel expenses where needed. He also helped Russian players leave Russia as some of them were concerned about the future of the country. Four Russian athletes successfully left the country and Coupez helped them settle in hotels in Turkey for the time being.
Coupez regrets not being able to do more but he is happy that he was able to help his players at least.
Many People Are Willing to Help
James Banks is a British esports host and interviewer who lived in Ukraine since 2019. He left the country just before the invasion but still helped a friend of his late Ukrainian partner leave the country.
Banks then appealed to the esports on Twitter and Twitch and got many people to help accommodate the refugees. He said that the community’s willingness to help drove him to tears. He was touched and felt glad to be a part of the esports community.
Paweł Książek, the head of the Kinguin Esports Performance Center in Warsaw, accommodated refugees in the venue, one of which is none other than Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, one of the best CS:GO players in the world. Książek said that he hopes that playing games in the venue will help the athletes forget what is happening even for a moment.
Kinguin’s other employees have also taken some refugees in and have helped them get accustomed to the local life. Some of the Ukrainians can cover their financial expenses but others can’t and require Kinguin’s help.
Luckily, many gaming companies, such as Riot Games and Activision Blizzard, as well as esports organizations such as TSM and Team Liquid have shown that they aren’t indifferent to the suffering of the Ukrainian people and are willing to help. The United Nations’ Tuesday report said that more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine. The country’s previously flourishing gaming industry is now taking an indefinite hiatus.