Dzhami “Jame” Ali, Alexey “qikert” Golubev, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis, Timur “buster” Tulepov, and Evgeny “FL1T” Lebedev will play at ESL Pro League season 15 under the ‘Outsiders’ tag, according to a report from Dexerto.
Under normal circumstances, the players would represent Virtus Pro. ESL, however, has prohibited VP and Gambit, two organizations with “apparent ties” to the Russian government, from being represented at the tournament as a result of sanctions imposed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
ESL did not impose sanctions on the players, though. They’ll compete in ESL Pro League season 15 under the neutral name Outsiders, and are forbidden from representing Russia, VP, or VP’s sponsors on their clothing. The CIS squad features two Russian players in Jame and FL1T.
Although VP did allow its players to compete in ESL Pro League season 15, it heavily criticized ESL’s sanctions. “ESL refuses to communicate with the club management, preferring speaking directly to the players,” the organization said in a statement on Friday, March 4, describing it as a “prime example of cancel culture.”
“We won’t respond to this aggression with aggression of our own by forbidding our players to play in this tournament,” VP said. “They spend lots of time to become pro players, and unlike some tournament operators, we are not ready to invalidate someone else’s efforts.”
While VP confirmed that its CS:GO roster will attend ESL Pro League season 15, there’s still no official confirmation that Gambit will do the same. The $823,000 tournament will begin on Wednesday, March 9, and end on April 10.