Russian esports organisation Virtus.pro will be reintegrated into BLAST and ESL tournaments after meeting requirements set by the organisers.
Last year, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine saw various sanctions placed on Russian companies and teams globally. Esports organisations were also affected by these sanctions, with ESL suspending teams that have ties to Russian government and BLAST banning Russian-based teams from events. Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports, in particular, were most affected by these sanctions.
Whilst Virtus.pro’s branding was not able to be used during this sanction, the organisation allowed its players to compete in CS:GO under the neutral name Outsiders. Virtus.pro will now be eligible to compete under its name in BLAST and ESL-organised tournaments for the first time in over a year.
Under the Outsider’s name, Virtus.pro’s roster notably won last year’s Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major, beating Nordic esports organisation Heroic.
VKontakte (VK), a Russian social networking service and now former owner of Virtus.pro, announced it sold the esports organisation in September in a deal worth 174m rubles (£1.84m), as first reported by Dexerto. Since then, both ESL and BLAST have lifted sanctions against Virtus.pro, according to the organisation.
Nikolai Petrossian, Virtus.pro CEO, publicly commented on the matter: “We welcome the decision of BLAST and ESL to return Virtus.pro to their tournaments as a result of their in-depth reviews that confirmed the club has met the requirements for reintegration.”
As for Gambit Esports, it continues to be affected by these sanctions. The organisation has not been active on social media since September of 2022, and currently competes in no titles with no signs of return.