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27 Jul, 2022 15:15

Russian gamer denied US visa after ‘Z’ symbol scandal

Ivan ‘Pure’ Moskalenko had displayed the letter, used by the Russian military
Russian gamer denied US visa after ‘Z’ symbol scandal

Russian gamer Ivan ‘Pure’ Moskalenko, who was caught up in a scandal for drawing a ‘Z’ symbol at a competition earlier this year, has been denied a US visa and will miss a major upcoming ‘Dota 2’ tournament, a teammate has said.

Belarusian gamer Dmitry ‘Fishman’ Polishchuk – who is part of the ‘Entity’ Esports team alongside Moskalenko – announced the news in his Telegram channel.

Polishchuk said he had been granted a one-year visa ahead of the PGL Arlington Major 2022 tournament, which gets underway on August 4.

The event is part of the Dota Pro Circuit season and boasts a total prize fund of $500,000, including $200,000 for the winners. 

Moskalenko, 18, moved to Entity Gaming after being expelled from former team Virtus.Pro following a scandal in April.

A row broke out after Moskalenko drew a ‘Z’ symbol on a mini-map during a brief pause in the action when taking on opponents Mind Games – which consists of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian players – in a Dota Pro Circuit Eastern European qualifying event. 

The ‘Z’ sign has been used by the Russian military during its campaign in Ukraine and is seen as an unofficial show of support among some of the population back home. 

Moskalenko later apologized and explained that he had drawn the symbol unintentionally, saying: “I didn’t mean to offend anyone, it hall happened by accident. Peace to all.”

However, the entire Virtus.Pro team – which was competing under the name ‘Outsiders’ – was disqualified from the competition by organizers Beyond The Summit (BTS). 

Virtus.Pro later terminated Moskalenko’s contract but described the backlash and their punishment as “shocking.”

“Valve [which partners BTS] has a certain history of imposing disciplinary measures, but disqualifying the whole team from a DPC tournament based on a drawing on a minimap by single-player sets up a whole new precedent,” a team statement said.

According to Cybersport.ru, Moskalenko is not the only player to face visa issues ahead of the Dota 2 tournament in the US.

Rival team Fnatic will need three stand-in players, while Chinese team Xtreme Gaming have pulled out of the tournament entirely after Lou ‘lou’ Zhen was reportedly denied a US visa for the third time.

The PGL Dota 2 Arlington Major 2022 will be held from August 4 to 14, and is set to feature 17 teams

Entity gamer Polishchuk did not say who would replace Moskalenko.