Virtus.pro CS:GO roster to compete in ESL Pro League 15 as ‘Outsiders’
Established Russian professional CS:GO esports organization Virtus.pro roster is set to compete in ESL Pro League 15 under the “Outsiders” tag following the previous ban of Russian-based organizations amidst the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Reportedly ESL believed that Virtus.pro is one of two organizations to have strong ties with the Kremlin alongside fellow esports organization Gambit.
In the case of Virtus.pro, a Russian state-run company Sogaz has a controlling stake in VK, Virtus.pro ownership group. Further, Sogaz is part-owned by President Vladimir Putin’s longtime ally as per Reuters and the company is included on the European Union imposed sanctions list to Russia.
Notably, ESL’s decision to ban Russian-based organizations is not the first, previously BLAST Premier and Riot Games has announced changes in their events as they opted to ban Russian teams from participating.
Prior to the decision to compete in ESL Pro League 15, Virtus.pro has prepared the necessary paperwork proving they are not connected to the Russian government. The organization described the ban as “a prime example of the cancel culture”.
In a statement released last week on the organization’s Twitter account, Virtus.pro expressed their disappointment and addressed ESL’s behavior of communicating directly to the players and refusing to do much with the organization’s management as ESL offered the team to play under a neutral flag, different tag as well as no jerseys.
“ESL offered our players to play under a neutral flag, with another tag and no club jerseys. ESL refuses to communicate with the club management, preferring speaking directly to players,” the statement reads.
While ESL does not impose restrictions on players to participate, the organization has confirmed its CS:GO roster will compete in the upcoming ESL Pro League Season 15 from March 9 to April 10. Virtus.pro added the organization will support their roster should they decide to compete.
“We won’t respond to this aggression with aggression of our own by forbidding our players to play in this tournament. They spend lots of time to become pro players, and unlike some tournament operators, we are not ready to invalidate someone else’s efforts,” Virtus.pro explained.
While Virtus.pro has confirmed its roster is set to compete in the tournament, Gambit on the other is yet to provide any confirmation as the $823,000 worth tournament is about to begin.
ESL Pro League Season 15
ESL Pro League is one of CS:GO’s most prestigious tournaments where it pits all of the best professional esports organizations around the world. This year, the tournament is on its 15th season, having a total of 24 teams to compete for the $823,000 prize pool.
The 15th season is also the first after the 10th season to be played on LAN after the previous four were conducted online following the pandemic. The organizers, however, have confirmed the tournament playoffs will not have a live crowd.
Moreover, ESL Pro League Season 15 is the second competitive event held after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The competition will feature big names from Natus Vincere, FaZe, G2 and Vitality will be a hard fight for the other teams to compete in the tournament.