Russian DOTA 2 pro apologizes after drawing symbol of war, disqualification from tournament
Former Virtus.pro professional DOTA 2 player Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko has been disqualified from the DOTA Pro Circuit Playoff game despite a victory over Mind Games after drawing a symbol of the pro-Russian military movement.
His action also led to the team’s disqualification from the tournament and his contract termination from Virtus.pro.
In the middle of the technical pause, the 18-year-old drew the Z symbol on the mini-map. This antic happened to be the work of him and his teammates. Later via a follow-up apology statement, Pure claimed it was unintentional and has apologized for the drawing.
“Hey guys, it’s Pure here. I’d like to comment on the incident that occurred during game 1 vs Mind. There was a long pause in the game. The guys and I were talking and drawing on the mini map. When we realised exactly what my drawing turned out to be, we tried to cover it up. I didn’t mean to offend anyone, it all happened by accident. Peace to all,” Pure said.
The gaming industry maintained a very strong stance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, from banning gaming companies or related-business entities that pose direct relations to Kremlin and even professional esports players associated with the Russian government.
Two professional esports organizations banned from competing in international tournaments due to their strong ownership ties with Kremlin were Gambit and Virtus.pro. This time in DOTA 2 tournament, Valve has joined the likes of BLAST and ESL to ban Russian-based organizations from competing.
However, a few restrictions were being made to allow Russian athletes to participate in esports tournaments, one of which is to play under a neutral banner with no single reference to their home country. In the case of Virtus.pro, the team played under the Outsiders tag to avoid branding or support to their ownership group and the Russian government.
The Outsiders made a relatively outstanding performance in the DOTA Pro Circuit Playoff after being qualified for the upper bracket final and slated to play BetBoom Team competing for a ticket to the Stockholm Major later in May.
Their antic outraged the DOTA 2 esports community and viewers around the world. One of which was Ukrainian commentator Vitalii “v1lat” Volochai called Pure and his team must be banned from the competition.
“So this is what you get in game when you allow players from orgs that support the war in Ukraine to play in a tournaments,” Volochai tweeted.
After outrage from the community, both the tournament organizer Beyond The Summit and Valve decided to disqualify the team over their drawing of the Russian Z military symbol.
However, Pure in a video posted on Twitter via Virtus.pro claimed the drawing “happened by accident.”
But many found the Russian professional was lacking a sincere apology and even dubbed it as a mere “lip service”.
Aftermath, contract termination
The aftermath was not picture-perfect for Pure. After the team has been disqualified from the tournament, Virtus.pro terminated Pure’s contract and quickly released a statement.
While both BTS and Valve conducted their own investigation, the team confirmed its CEO Sergey Glamazda personally reached out to each roster to dig for more information.
The organization also explained that terminating Pure’s contract was due to “a whole new precedent” of team disqualification the player had caused and “a great harm” to its relations with the international esports scene.