After more than a year since Virtus.pro had to adopt the Outsiders tag due to sanctions against the organization, tournament operators BLAST and ESL have announced that the Armenian-Russian organization is free to use the tag once again. Virtus.pro will return to BLAST tournaments starting March 22 and ESL tournaments starting on March 28.
BLAST had already used Virtus.pro’s tag on the European RMR schedule for BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023 instead of Outsiders' logo, signaling the TO was likely to make a change in the near future.
"We welcome the decision of BLAST and ESL to return Virtus.pro to their tournaments as a result of their in-depth reviews that confirmed the club has met the requirements for reintegration," Virtus.pro CEO Nikolai Petrossian said.
Virtus.pro was previously owned by the Russian Mail.ru Group, which had fallen under sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as such its teams had to participate in tournaments under a neutral flag and not represent the organization.
Subsequently, in September 2022, the organization officially changed ownership. Aram Karamanukyan became the new owner and CEO and operations were shifted to Armenia. The organization’s teams slowly regained the right to use the name Virtus.pro. The Dota 2 team returned to competition under its own name in September last year, while the Rainbow Six Siege team began to use the Virtus.pro banner again in February 2023.
The sanctions affecting the CS:GO team were not resolved until now. ESL did not allow the organization to take credit for winning the IEM Rio Major nor ESL Challenger Rotterdam. The tournament operator instead insisted that Outsiders were the winner, with Valve reflecting that decision in game.