In a tournament match at DOTA 2, Russian pro player Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko (18) drew a “Z” in the top left corner of the map. This was taken as a sign that he supports Russia’s war in Ukraine. DOTA 2’s publisher, Steam operator Valve, had his team disqualified. The team then fired the 18-year-old pro, who claims he was only painting during a break.
What did the pro do?
- At a tournament in Stockholm, the ESL One Stockholm Major, 18-year-old Russian “Pure” drew a “Z” in the upper-left corner of DOTA 2’s mini-map.
- Team members hastily tried to paint over this symbol, but by then it was too late.
- The “Z” was taken as a sign from Pure to support Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. The consequences were harsh.
The 15-second clip shows the incident:
Z as a sign that you like and support the war
What does the “Z” mean? The “Z” is seen in the West as a symbol of support for the Russian war in Ukraine. The “Z” painted on Russian war equipment was seen in the first weeks of the war, since then it has become a “pro-Russian” symbol (via instagram).
It is not entirely clear where this “Z” comes from and what it stands for. The letter does not exist in the Russian alphabet. According to various theories, it either means something like “For Victory”, “To the West” or stands for the name of the Ukrainian President.
Blizzard has already adjusted the heroine “Zarya” in Overwatch and removed the symbol there.
Team is disqualified – Allegedly Valve is behind it
This is the consequence: The tournament organizers disqualified the Pure team. All matches that you have already played and would have played were counted for the opponents.
The organization says: The player’s organization, Virtus.pro, says they learned that DOTA 2’s “publisher”, Valve himself, was behind the decision to ban the team from the tournament. They say:
“Valve has a certain history of issuing disciplinary penalties, but to qualify an entire team from a tournament because a single player drew something on a mini-map takes it to a whole new level.”
However, Virus.pro decided to take action and fired player Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko for his actions. It is said that the action led to disqualification and caused “great damage” in the relationship between virtus.pro and global e-sports.
Important NOTE: If you are plagued by dark thoughts about the current situation: you are not alone. Please get help. For example, with the telephone counseling service on 0800/111 0 111 or the Online Counseling, where you can also use a chat. It’s free and applies nationwide.
This is what the player says: The player says (via twitter), there was a long break in the game and we talked to each other and scribbled a bit on the map. When they recognized what he had really drawn there, they quickly tried to cover it up.
He didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It happened by accident. He wishes everyone peace.
The war in Ukraine keeps touching on gaming-related issues:
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