The GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 has kicked off with the noticeable absence of Russian organisation Virtus.pro (VP), who claimed they were disqualified by the tournament's organisers over their stance in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
In a statement on Wednesday (2 March), VP claimed that the organisers of the GAMERS GALAXY Invitational, Dubai-based organisation Galaxy Racer and Ukrainian organiser WePlay Esports, issued an "ultimatum" to them: either issue a statement condemning the invasion of Ukraine or be disqualified from the tournament.
VP's statement also erroneously claims that they were invited to the tournament by Nigma Galaxy SEA, the Southeast Asian Dota 2 team of Nigma Galaxy and one of the participating teams in the GAMERS GALAXY Invitational. Nigma Galaxy was notably formed from the merger between Team Nigma and Galaxy Racer, the actual hosts of the event.
The Russian team also highlighted the fact that the tournament was being hosted in the United Arab Emirates, which has thus far maintained a neutral stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Virtus.pro does not tolerate this behavior from WePlay and GAMERS GALAXY. We do not support any way there is or ever was," said VP in its statement.
VP were notably absent from the schedule announcement for the first day of the GAMERS GALAXY Invitational. They were also excluded from the list of participating teams in a graphic announcing the start of the tournament.
The tournament's organisers have yet to issue a statement on the matter.
It is time!!! 💫💫💫
The #GAMERSGALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 is officially underway, with FOURTEEN matches on Day 1 ! 🔥🔥🔥
WATCH LIVE HERE:
🅱️: https://t.co/F1VMMvR2G5 pic.twitter.com/E4SpESJhoX
— GAMERS GALAXY:Dota2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 (@GalaxyRacerDxb) March 2, 2022
A number of Russian organisations have come under flak for their refusal to condemn their country's invasion of Ukraine.
Renown Ukrainian Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) severed ties with VP's parent company, ESForce Holding, for its apparent support of the invasion, which started last week when Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered military action.
Other ESForce Holding subsidiaries include Russian tournament organiser Epic Esports Events as well as media entities Cybersport.ru and RuHub.
Na'Vi's decision to sever ties with ESforce follows the release of a statement from the Dota2RuHub Twitter account that said “Ruhub, Epic Esports Events, Virtus.pro and other units of ESForce Holding support the decision to send troops to Ukraine.”
While the tweet has since been deleted, screenshots of it have been taken and spread through the platform.
"The Russian army continues to attack civilian areas: hundreds of thousands of residents have left their homes, the others continue to fight for the future of our country. When people are dying and thousands of destinies are getting destroyed irreversibly, there is no time for esports," Na'Vi said in a statement.
"While Na'Vi employees and players spend their days in bomb shelters, ESforce Holding publicly denies the horror that is now happening in Ukraine. We consider this position unacceptable and inhumane."
The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia has ground the esports scene in Eastern Europe to a halt, with Dota 2 developer Valve Software recently indefinitely postponing all professional competition in the region.
If you'd like to learn more about how you can help Ukraine during this crisis, here is a list of international organizations you can donate to.