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Published: July 3, 2023

Written by: Stoyan Todorov


  • The organization was recently banned from the ESL, the reason being apparent ties to the Kremlin
  • Vitrus.pro says this is a “prime example of cancel culture”
  • It will, however, still allow its players to compete under the “outsider” tag

Russain-based Vitrus.pro was banned from the ESL Pro League 15, but its team members will be allowed to participate without representing their organization or country.

Players Will Compete as “Outsiders”

The war in Ukraine caused many western and EU countries to impose economic sanctions on Russia. Many sports organizations also condemned the war and restricted or banned Russian teams and athletes from competing in upcoming events. This sentiment has also spread to the esports world, which also expressed condemnation of the war.

Following that, many esports organizers have banned teams “linked” with the Russian government. However, Russian players are often permitted to play in tournaments as long as they do not represent their organization or country. They can compete under the “outsider” tag or just simply as a lone player.

This seems to be the case with Virtus.pro’s CS:GO team that will compete in ESL Pro League 15 under the tag “Outsiders”. Just a few days ago the team was banned from the ESL due to apparent ties to the Russian government.

Vitrus.pro Responds to the Ban

Virtus.pro is one of the two Russian-based organizations that ESL says have ties to the Kremlin. ESL thinks this because the Russian state-run insurance company Soga has large stakes in the organization. It is one of the many companies included in the EU’s sanction list, so a ban on the team it has stakes in is yet another hit on their profits.

Despite the ESL’s claims that Vitrus.pro has ties to the Russian government, the team has denied these claims, instead blaming “cancel culture” as the reason for their banning.

Vitrus.pro says it has provided the ESL with documentation denying any connection to the Kremlin. Despite the ESL’s decision and Vitrus’ expressed dissatisfaction, the organization said that it will not stand in the way of the players competing in the tournament under a different tag if they so wished. “We won’t respond to this aggression with aggression of our own by forbidding our players to play in this tournament,” the organization said.

Vitrus.pro’s team composition is multinational, with two players from both Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as a Latvian player. The latter, called Mareks ‘⁠YEKINDAR⁠’ Gaļinskis, recently said in an interview for Sportacentrs that the future seems “uncertain” as travel restrictions and sanctions continue to take effect.

The other major team banned from the ESL due to suspicions of ties with the Russian government is Gambit. So far, the organization has not announced whether its team will participate in ESL Pro League 15, which begins on March 9.

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