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Published: December 8, 2022

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • Poland bans Russians from entering it through its external borders
  • This does not apply to Russian citizens already in the EU with valid visas
  • Russian players will be able to participate in the IEM Katowice

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, many Russian players have been banned from participating in various CS:GO events, but some were allowed to play at the IEM Katowice.

Russians Can Play in Katowice

The Russo-Ukrainian war has brought about disruptions spanning outside of the directly affected areas. From gas shortages to skyrocketing prices, to missiles falling into neighboring countries, the war seems to always find ways to interfere with the lives of people not directly involved. Western countries have responded with sanctions against Russia and bans on its citizens.

One of these was made by Poland, which on September 26 imposed a ban on Russian citizens to enter the country from its internal borders. In the CS:GO community questions arose about the possibility of Russian players attending the 2023 edition of IEM Katowice. 

With these questions, HLTV reached out to the ESL regarding the issue. According to what the tournament organizer responded, there is legally nothing preventing Russians from entering Poland and participating in the $1 million tournament that starts on January 31, 2023. 

“As of now, there is no local law indicating that any given team or player cannot enter the premises of Poland and, therefore, not participate in the upcoming tournament in Katowice,” ESL’s response to HLTV reads. “EFG [ESL FACEIT Group] remains compliant with all international laws and sanctions, and we will continue to monitor and reshape our global and local business strategies to reflect that.”

Despite the ban, which Poland enacted jointly with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, Russian citizens can still enter through internal EU borders and other Schengen member states. This means that Russians with valid visas, who are already in other EU countries, can still enter Poland from them. 

Poland’s entry ban is just another of the many policies EU countries have enacted since the start of the conflict in February. Similar measures included a widespread ban on Russian flights and tougher visa application processes for Russian citizens. Many esports organizations, including BLAST premier, banned Russian teams from participating in their events.However, many Russian players were later allowed to participate in many events, as long as they did not represent their country or affiliated esports organizations. In fact, Russian players performed well this year in competitive CS:GO, including Outsiders, who won the IEM Rio Major in November. The team had to change its name in order to participate in the event and is also invited to IEM Katowice, where they will still use the same name.

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