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Navi breaks from Russian esports organisation ESForce

"Employees and players now spend their days in bomb shelters."

Leading eSports team Navi, also known as Natus Vincere, has cut ties with Russian esports conglomerate ESForce.

The Ukrainian-based group announced its decision in a Twitter post today, and said ESForce had denied "the horror that is now happening" in its country.

ESForce is a holding company which includes Russia's top esports team Virtus.pro, esports media organisation Cybersport.ru, and the Moscow-based esports complex Yota Arena.

"It is the sixth day of war in Ukraine," Navi wrote in its statement. "The Russian army continues to attack civilian areas: hundreds of thousands of residents have left their homes, the others continue to fight for the future of our country. When people are dying and thousands of destinies are getting destroyed irreversibly, there is no time for esports.

"While Navi employees and players now spend their days in bomb shelters, ESForce Holding publicly denies the horror that is now happening in Ukraine.

"We consider this position unacceptable and inhumane. Navi breaks off every cooperation with the holding company, including RuHub, Epic Esports Events, Cybersport.ru and Virtus.pro.

"We would like to express our gratitude towards all of the holding company employees who were not afraid of the pressure and expressed their position. Thank you!"

Navi is comprised of several teams which compete in top esports games under the same brand - such as, Dota, League of Legends, PUBG, World of Tanks and Rainbow Six Siege.

But Navi is most famous for its successes with Counter-Strike, and last November became world champions of CS:GO.

Over the past week, messages posted to the Navi account have discussed Russia's invasion of the country, and revealed how staff had been keeping their spirits up by watching esports matches held elsewhere.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted large donations from video game companies to humanitarian organisations as the conflict escalates, as well as statements of solidarity from developers based in Ukraine itself. Earlier today, World of Tanks fired its creative director for publicly supporting Russia.

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Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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