BLAST Premier, a popular professional CS:GO esports league based in Copenhagen, Denmark, has banned Russian-based teams from attending its events for the “foreseeable future” and has canceled the upcoming CIS qualifier.
The event organizer apologized to fans and players from the region in a post on social media today and said that it didn’t think the event was “appropriate” at this time. “Gaming and esports unites people from all races, countries, and beliefs,” BLAST said. “We hope the situation on the world stage reflects this as soon as possible.”
This decision follows the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has led to a bloody and brutal war in the Eastern European country over the past six days. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed since the conflict started on Feb. 24.
The CIS qualifier for the BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown was scheduled to get underway on March 25 and feature Russian-based teams including forZe. This team, as well as several others, will now be excluded from participating.
It’s unclear at this time if Gambit Esports, the Russian squad that placed second in the BLAST Premier: World Final in 2021, will be banned from attending future events on account of being a partner org with BLAST. Virtus Pro, another Russian-based team, also falls into this category.
Natus Vincere, despite sporting three Russian players in its CS:GO roster, will not be affected by this ban due to being based in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, the team’s standout player, said “all of us want peace for Ukraine and the whole world” in a moving and emotional speech at IEM Katowice on Feb. 25.