Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) severed their ties with esports holding company ESforce Holding as of Tuesday, and members of the Dota community also expressed similar sentiments about avoiding tournaments and events related to ESforce Holding.
— NAVI (@natusvincere) March 1, 2022
Esports entities separate from ESforce Holding
Na’Vi, one of the longest-standing esports brands in the world, with championship-winning teams in Dota and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, made a stand on Twitter against ESforce Holding’s public denial of “the horror that is now happening in Ukraine.”
ESforce Holding is one of the largest esports holding companies in the Russian Federation. On their website, they claim that 90% of the esports audience coverage in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) uses ESforce Holding’s media resources. Due to the company’s ownership of several studios in Russia and CIS, Na’Vi and several Dota community members have been outspoken about not supporting these studios at this time. The properties owned by ESforce Holding include RuHub, Epic Esports Events (EPICENTER and Dota 2 Champion’s League, Cybersport.ru and Virtus.Pro.
Na’Vi are also not the first team who has been outspoken regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Team Spirit also released a statement regarding the issue.
— Team Spirit (@Team__Spirit) February 24, 2022
Around the same time Na’Vi released their statement, members of the Dota community voiced their own outrage over the recent conflict happening in Ukraine as it relates to ESforce Holding. Many analyst members and casters, including Robson “TeaGuvnor” Merritt and Kyle “Kyle” Freedman, have lived in Ukraine for a period of time.
TeaGuvnor specifically has been outspoken regarding the conflict. His thread on Twitter from Tuesday calls on the Dota 2 community to cease participating in all events organized by EPICENTER.
“Until bombs stop falling on Ukraine, stop supporting Russian organizations,” TeaGuvnor said. “ESPECIALLY those that refuse to condemn the war.”
In line with the IOC, FIFA, UEFA, F1, BLAST, etc, I ask the Dota 2 professional community to cease participating in all events organized by @epicentergg.
Until bombs stop falling on Ukraine, stop supporting Russian organizations. ESPECIALLY those that refuse to condemn the war.
— TeaGuvnor #StandWithUkraine (@TeaGuvnor) March 1, 2022
Included in the Tweet thread is a Tweet from Jonathan “PimpmuckL” Liebig that shows a translated screenshot made by the Dota 2 Russian Hub, an official account used to update fans regarding the Eastern European region. The translation claimed “the management of the company and the holding continue to lie” and that “RuHub, Epic Esport Events, Virtus.Pro and other units of the holding support the decision to send troops into Ukraine, and are actively looking for us, who disagree, together with the security service.”
This was from yesterday and I figured perhaps ESFORCE/Epicenter/Ruhub folks would publicly take a much needed stance by now.
Looks like it won't be coming anytime soon.
Thanks to @OnFireDimitri for the quick RT yesterday pic.twitter.com/A6WQ0VoWqq
— JJ – PimpmuckL (@JJLiebig) March 1, 2022
Kyle, meanwhile, has been vocal about the horrors of the conflict since it began. He has consistently shared donation links, posts and even his own chat logs with friends in Ukraine, giving his followers a view of the conflict from the ground. He also showed his support for TeaGuvnor’s stance to stop working with Russian esports organizations at this time, especially after BLAST premier announced they would not invite Russian teams to their events in the future.
Ukrainians do not have a choice.
They cannot participate in general society and live life as normal. They're being fucking bombed.
Russian organizations are now being banned from general society.
This can change very easily.
stop fucking bombing Ukraine.
Thanks Blast 💙💛 https://t.co/LuZGuO3xyO
— Kyle #StandWithUkraine (@keepingitKyle) March 1, 2022
Since Na’Vi’s announcement to back out of dealing with ESforce Holding, other esports organizations have followed suit. Beyond The Summit, who was handling the English broadcast for Dota 2 Champions League Season 7 backed out of their production for the remainder of the tournament. Alliance, another Western European team has also backed out of the tournament.