Professional Dota 2 player – Iwan “Pure” Moskalenko – has been removed from the entire Virtus pro team from qualifying for the ESL One tournament. The ban happened after he drew the symbol “Z” on the minimap in the game, which is associated with the Russian military in Ukraine.
The team called Outsiders took part in the semi-final of the winnings bracket against Mind Games, whose ranks are represented by two Ukrainians.
As described by Yahoo, during one of the breaks in the game, Moskalenko used Dota 2’s built-in map drawing function to present the letter Z. Teammates quickly tried to “cover” the sign, but it was too late.
The key moment is presented in the video below:
After disclosing the situation, the organizers decided that the Outsiders were disqualified from all future matches (the team should theoretically fall to the losers bracket after one defeat).
In a statement on Twitter, Moskalenko explains that the symbol was created by chance. “Once we realized what I had drawn, we tried to cover it up,” he assures. “I wasn’t going to offend anyone.”
Russian eSport has wider problems after the invasion of Ukraine. Suffice it to say that the ESL had previously banned players from playing under the name Virtus pro – hence the temporary name Outsiders.