Sources: Russian players face potential restriction from competing at VCT Masters

Teams may require substitutes

Image via Riot Games

VALORANT players who reside in Russia could face a potential ban from attending the first international event of the year due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, multiple sources told Dot Esports on March 25. 

Two teams that have already qualified for VCT Masters—Fnatic and FunPlus Phoenix—will likely be required to find substitute players to attend the event, which will be hosted in Reykjavík, Iceland. The tournament is set to begin on April 10 and conclude on April 30. 

Russian players such as Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin, Andrey “Shao” Kiprsky, and Andrew “braveaf” Gorchakov would be affected by the potential ban. It remains unclear whether Ukrainian player Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov, who’s in Ukraine right now, will be allowed to travel to the event. 

As a result, Fnatic has formalized a list of potential substitutes and FPX has scrambled to find replacements, according to multiple sources.

Tournament host Riot Games is set to inform teams as to whether it will be possible for players to use their starting lineup by Monday, March 28, according to multiple sources. Unless a workaround can be achieved, it remains unlikely that Russian players can attend the tournament. 

Since VCT Masters is an international event, players will need to travel to attend it. But due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, many European countries have closed their airspace to Russian-owned aircraft. 

On Feb. 27, Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, the minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, said on Twitter that Icelandic airspace has been closed from Russian aircraft in solidarity with Ukraine. On Feb. 28, in response, Iceland was named as one of the many European countries banned from traveling into Russian airspace, according to Reuters

One of the only workarounds would be to travel to Serbia from Russia and then take a connecting flight into Iceland. Despite many European countries banning travel from Russia, Serbia has remained open. On March 14, it was reported by SchengenVisaInfo that Air Serbia doubled the number of flights between Moscow and Belgrade from seven to 15. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24 and remains ongoing. Today, Ukrainian forces have reoccupied several key locations to the west of the capital city of Kyiv, while Russian forces are continuing their advances on Mariupol, as reported by BBC News.