Feb 25, 2022 - Technology

Ukrainian esports star calls for peace during tournament

Tweet: @ESLCS

A major esports tournament in Katowice, Poland began today with a member of a Ukraine-based team that includes Ukrainian and Russian players calling for peace.

Why it matters: The Intel Extreme Masters includes teams from nations now at war. Organizers had rebuffed any calls to postpone the tournament or prohibit Russian teams.

  • Much of the sports world has been reacting to the invasion. Formula 1, the Union of European Football Associations, and other major sporting organizations have moved to cancel events that were to be held in Russia.

Between the lines: The IEM event includes a tournament in the popular team-based competitive shooter Counter-Strike GO and, depending on how the bracket plays out, could pit teams from the two countries against each other.

  • But it’s more complex than that: Kyiv-based team Navi fields five CS:GO players, two from Ukraine and three from Russia.

What they’re saying: “My whole career I’ve played with Ukrainian players, I’ve played with Russian players and I’ve played with American players,” NaVI Ukrainian star Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev said to the crowd at today’s IEM kick-off.

  • “And right now I stay with my friends, with my real friends,” he said, acknowledging his teammates.
  • “We win together. And we lose together. And all of us want peace for Ukraine and for [the] whole world. All of us, [are] scared. And all of us need to show [an] example in this tournament for the whole world … We all need to stay humans first.”

Other developments:

  • Destiny-maker Bungie and Cyberpunk/Witcher studio CD Projekt RED, have both pledged humanitarian donations.
  • Ukraine-based studio Vostok says its team is safe and working remotely.
  • Mobile gaming giant Gameloft, which has studios in Ukraine, expressed support for its developers there.
  • Some purported footage of the conflict spreading on the Facebook Gaming platform yesterday turned out to be clips from the video game Arma 3, Bloomberg reported.
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