Despite a scare to three different teams with Russian players on their roster, any issue that might have kept them from competing in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor has been resolved.
As several teams began arriving ahead of the next Dota Pro Circuit Minor, Gambit Esports was the first team to experience issues upon landing in Kiev, Ukraine.
Three of Gambit’s players, Vasily “AfterLife” Shishkin, Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin, and Alexander “Immersion” Hmelevskoy were denied entry into the country beyond the airport’s customs department. The team’s coach, Anatoly “boolk” Ivanov, was also denied, as was their manager Ivan “4SV” Karpov.
Caster Vitalii “v1lat” Volochai made a post not long after Gambit’s that stated that all five players from the Old But Gold roster were also being held up. He followed that up by saying the players would be deported to Minsk back in Russia, which is about an hour away by flight, while the issues were sorted out.
In response to that post, OG’s offlaner Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs announced that OG was having a similar issue with Igor “iLTW” Filatov, another Russian player.
Gambit managed to work out their issues early on and enter Kiev, but OBG and iLTW remained in the proverbial limbo. If the hold remained into the tournament, both the OBG team and iLTW would have been given special permission to play online with the supervision of a StarLadder referee.
StarLadder and Valve didn’t want that for one of their premier events and made sure to work directly with proper Ukrainian channels to get things resolved.
Thankfully, all the work done by the StarLadder team paid off and both denials were cleared in time for the teams to compete fully. This is one of the rare times a travel issue in regards to esports has been cleared up this quickly.
Visa and other travel restrictions have been one of the biggest hurdles for multi-country esports to truly flourish without issues. It is especially prominent in a situation like this where Russian players were seemingly picked out because of their nationality, likely due to the rather tense relationship between Ukraine and Russia.
The now complete roster of eight teams will battle it out from March 7 to 10 for a prize pool of $300,000, 500 DPC points, and the final spot in the DreamLeague Season 11 Stockholm Major.