Sources: ESL and BLAST reviewing Virtus.pro leadership changes
ESL and BLAST will soon make a determination on whether Virtus.pro will be allowed back in their competitions following the leadership changes in the organization, Dexerto has learned.
Virtus.pro have pushed tournament organizers to lift the ban on the organization amid the appointment of Aram Karamanukyan as CEO.
Mr. Karamanukyan, who is an Armenian citizen, has invested in Virtus.pro and owns its trademark, according to a September 20 statement issued by Virtus.pro in which the organization also underlined that its various esports teams “can and will compete exclusively” under its tag moving forward.
This came after a period in which Virtus.pro’s Dota 2 and CS:GO teams had to play under the neutral name of Outsiders because of sanctions imposed by tournament organizers in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On September 19, Outsiders’ name on the official Dota 2 Pro Circuit page had been changed to Virtus.pro, leading to suggestions that the team would be able to represent its organization at The International, the biggest event in the esport.
datDota developer and analyst Ben ‘Noxville’ Steenhuisen said that it was likely an automatic website change triggered by the team via their in-game profile and that Valve probably wasn’t aware of this. However, that possibility was dismissed on September 21 as TI organizers PGL revealed the groups and schedule for the event’s last-chance qualifier. These show Virtus.pro, and not Outsiders, as one of the participating teams.
Dexerto knows that the decision to display the team’s name as Virtus.pro came from Valve and not from PGL.
This development will certainly put pressure on ESL and BLAST to reinstate Virtus.pro in their CS:GO tournaments.
On March 2, ESL banned Virtus.pro and Gambit from their events for their alleged ties to the Russian government. However, it still gave players from both teams the opportunity to compete under a neutral name and without representing their country, organization, or sponsors.
BLAST, however, went one step further, issuing an outright ban on Russia-based teams and calling off the CIS qualifier for its Spring Showdown event.
Outsiders have reached the ESL Pro League S16 and will attend the upcoming RMR
These bans are believed to have played a role in the transfer of Gambit’s CS:GO team to Cloud9 in April in a deal brokered by Ulti Agency, which had acquired the players’ rights.
ESL is expected to make a decision on this matter soon. In just two weeks, it will host in Malta the qualifiers for the IEM Rio Major, where Outsiders will be in attendance as they look to qualify for the event in Brazil. The team has also reached the playoff stage of ESL Pro League, with their next match scheduled for September 27.
The CS:GO Majors are sponsored by Valve, but the developer has a much more hands-off approach to these events when compared to TI, which is a Valve product through and through. As such, it is unclear if it will be able to make a determination on Virtus.pro’s eligibility on its own or if it has to follow Valve’s guidelines.
Dexerto has reached out to Valve for comment.