ESL Pro League bans "organizations with ties to Russian government" from upcoming season *
Teams hailing from the organizations affected will be allowed to compete in the tournament under a neutral name.
Update: ESL's statement was amended and no longer claims the decision was made jointly with ESL Pro League teams.
ESL has released a statement sharing its views on the ongoing Russian invasion into Ukraine, stating that it is putting a set of actions in place in response.
The tournament organizer made a decision which will see organizations "with apparent ties to the Russian government, including individuals or organizations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict" banned from participating in the upcoming 15th season, which is set to start on March 9 and run through April 10.
ESL has stated that it has currently identified two entities who will be banned from being represented: Virtus.pro and Gambit. The former side falls under the ownership of Sogaz Insurance Group, who are among the companies targeted by various anti-Russia sanctions, while the latter is owned by Russia's mobile telecoms network MTS.
The tournament organizer has stressed that it recognizes that the players representing said organizations are not complicit in the conflict and that they will be "welcome to compete under a neutral name, without representing their country, organization, or their teams' sponsors on their clothing or otherwise."
Virtus.pro, Gambit, and the players have yet to comment on the move from ESL. VP's matches in Group B are set to kick off on March 16, while Gambit are part of Group C, starting on March 23.
It is not the first time Virtus.pro's participation in an esports event is being affected amid Russia's invasion into Ukraine. On Tuesday, the organization claimed it was being threatened to be disqualified from the ongoing GAMERS GALAXY Dota 2 tournament taking place in Dubai.
In a statement, the VP organization claimed their players received an offer to denounce the organization's tag and made a strong stance as they refused to comply with the demands, stating that they "do not support any war there is or ever was."