Following the team’s disqualification from the Eastern Europe Dota Pro Circuit Regional Finals yesterday, Virtus.pro terminated its contract with Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko today.
During a pause in a live match, Pure drew a “Z” symbol on the in-game mini-map. The symbol, which has been actively used by the Russian government as a militarist symbol and in propaganda campaigns in favor of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, was clearly visible on stream before being covered up by the remaining VP players.
The Dota community immediately called out Pure’s actions, and after review, Valve and tournament organizer Beyond The Summit disqualified VP, playing under the “Outsiders” tag, from the event.
According to VP, the organization reached out to Valve and BTS after the incident, and also began its own internal investigation. This involved VP CEO Sergey Glamazda personally interviewing the players to get more answers between games, something the BTS staff also did to hear other players’ side of the story regarding Pure’s actions. However, the decision was ultimately left up to Valve.
In a video released by the organization, Pure claimed that his drawing was done completely by accident and he “didn’t mean to offend anyone.” He did not apologize for his actions, even if they were unintentional, which led to further blowback from the community.
Even after the community response, VP also failed to issue a direct apology for Pure’s actions, and instead complained about the severity of the punishment issued by Valve in their statement.
“The severity of the punishment is shocking,” VP said. “Valve has a certain history of imposing disciplinary measures, but disqualifying the whole team from a DPC tournament based on a drawing on a mini-map by a single player sets up a whole new precedent.”
Despite disagreeing with the decision, VP terminated its contract with Pure for “diminishing actions that led to disqualification from the tournament” and for causing harm to the organization’s “relationship with the worldwide esports society.” The team also noted that it will announce additional roster changes separately.
Dmitry “DM” Dorokhin, one of VP’s longest-tenured players on its current roster, also spoke out against Valve’s decision after Pure was dismissed from the team, asking the publisher to reconsider the disqualification.
“On behalf of myself and my teammates I would like to kindly ask you to reconsider your recent decision on our disqualification from the DPC tournament,” DM said. “Please let us compete and prove being one of the strongest teams in EEU region in front of our fans from all over the globe with honor, honesty and dignity. Don’t ruin our careers just because of some stupid random action by a 18-year-old boy. We just want to do the only thing we love in this life—play Dota.”
Again, there was no direct apology in DM’s statement for the actions of Pure, in fact, he actively calls the drawing of a Z a “stupid random action” by a younger teammate.
It is very unlikely Valve will overturn its decision to disqualify the VP roster given the community’s response, and the fact that the EEU Regional Playoffs are nearly complete. More information about follow-up actions against VP may be shared at a later date.