Intel Extreme Masters 2024 in Katowice, one of the most exciting events in the world of eSports, once again visited Spodek and the International Congress Center. The number of teams vying for the prestigious title also included the Russian Counter-Strike 2 Team Spirit, which caused a lot of controversy and questions.
Team Spirit, known in the world of eSports for its achievements and as a team that constantly shows an advantage over its opponents, at the same time causes controversy in light of the current political situation. Despite growing tensions between Russia and Poland, as well as global sanctions imposed on Russia due to its actions towards Ukraine, the Russian team Team Spirit was allowed to participate in the IEM Katowice tournament.
The Russian team reached the finals of IEM Katowice 2024
The organizers’ decision caused a strong reaction among eSports fans. On the one hand, supporters of maintaining neutrality in sports argued that athletes should not be held responsible for the consequences of their country’s actions. On the other hand, skeptics raised the issue of moral responsibility and solidarity with the victims of the conflict.
During the presentation of the final teams on Sunday, February 11, 2024, Team Spirit players were booed and booed.
Despite these contradictions, one should also pay attention to the outstanding achievements of Team Spirit itself. This team has dominated the international Counter-Strike 2 scene for many years, winning numerous titles and recognition. Their participation in the Intel Extreme Masters 2024 finals in Katowice is proof of their unwavering determination and skills.
It is also worth emphasizing that e-sports is a unique field that unites people of different nationalities and cultures. In this context, the participation of Russian players in the tournament can be seen as a step towards maintaining openness and tolerance in the esports community – without creating divisions based on the origin of the players.
However, the main disagreements regarding the Russian e-sports organization are related to the issue of financing its activities. In 2022, the organization moved from the Russian capital to Belgrade, Serbia. All because of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Managing Director of ESL Gaming Polska Alexander Shlachetko commented on the situation. “We decided, like many other entities, that at the beginning of the war we left the Russian market and since then we have not allowed Russian teams that play under the Russian flag, or organizations that are supported by specific people,” says Shlachetko in Direct.pl.
Is a Russian oligarch behind Team Spirit’s funding?
In 2021, the portal intellinews.com asked the then general director of the team, Nikita Chukalin, about the method of financing the organization, but he refused to answer. The portal discovered the group’s connection through an Internet domain – it belonged to Onmoon.ru. Other websites owned by IT Onmoon include: csgo.ru – a database of game information linked to one of the largest game add-on marketplaces in the world: market.csgo.com.
The owner of the domain, who may have been responsible for maintaining the organization, was Russian multimillionaire Anton Cherepennikov. He was a key figure in Vladimir Putin’s system of repression, helping the Russian satrap control the Internet and wiretap phones.
At the moment, the source of funding for the esports organization remains hidden.
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