The fierce bear logo of Russian organization Virtus.pro has been absent from esports for some months now, but the sponsor’s players are fighting on as Outsiders across multiple games.
Esports fans across multiple titles may be surprised by the lack of Virtus.pro and the sudden appearance of a new organization called Outsiders fielding all of its former players. It’s no coincidence, though the story of how Outsiders came to be is anything but simple. Here’s what’s going on with Virtus.pro players now wearing Outsiders jerseys.
For now, all of Virtus.pro’s teams now compete under the name Outsiders. The Outsiders rosters are the exact same as they were while competing under the Virtus.pro name, barring recent roster chances. This applies to Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and other games.
The change is a result of the esports world’s response to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. On March 2, ESL announced that it would no longer allow teams with ties to the Russian government to enter its events following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The policy was mirrored by PGL the next month. Virtus.pro is one such team, as multiple Russians have a stake in the esports organization. The organization refuted its connections with the Russian government though social media, but the rulings remained.
Now unable to attend any events by two of the biggest esports event organizers in the world, Virtus.pro made a big decision in March 2022. It created Outsiders, a neutral esports company claimed to have no ties to the Russian government. It is funded and maintained by a Russian company with such ties, but the Outsiders name has thus far passed acceptable standards for most tournament hosts. The controversy surrounding ESL’s standards in particular has lessened in the time since, but the Virtus.pro logo is still nowhere to be seen.
The Virtus.pro logo has been a constant feature of multiple esports, but switching back from Outsiders isn’t an easy decision to make.
The situation is closely tied to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which continues to unfold six months after Virtus.pro became Outsiders. If fighting stops, it’s possible that the rosters will once again sport a polar bear on their jerseys while representing Virtus.pro. If it continues, it’s very possible that the teams will never go by the Virtus.pro name again.
Gambit Esports is another esports organization affected by its rulings, and its CSGO roster jumped ship to Cloud9 in April 2022 as a result. Current Outsiders players could look for opportunities with other sponsors or even break up entirely before a return to normalcy in the affected region. VP fans who are more attached to the players than the jersey can still enjoy watching their favorite teams as long as they can get used to a different team name.