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Virtus.pro gets new Armenian CEO & owner, returns to original name in official Dota 2 ranking

Virtus.pro can now be classified as an Armenian organization, meaning the sanctions against them could soon end.

Owing to the Virtus.pro organization’s Russian ownership, it was effectively sanctioned by Ubisoft earlier this year due to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. VP was owned by ESforce Holding, whose parent company is VK, the largest Russian social media site. Its CEO was sanctioned by both the European Union and the United States government. 

This has possibly changed, as the company apparently has a new CEO; Armenian citizen Aram Karamanukyan. According to an announcement on the Virtus.pro website, he has invested heavily in VP and reportedly owns the Virtus.pro trademark and assets.

This change has already led Valve to drop their sanctions against VP, with their name reverting to Virtus.pro after they also had to go under “Outsiders” in the Dota 2 Rankings, as they’re now considered an Armenian company, not a Russian one. 

It is possible that the same could be coming soon in Rainbow Six, which would mean a return of the Virtus.pro R6Share skin and their branding in tournaments.

The change has been questioned by several esports professionals as possibly being a backdoor for Virtus.pro to avoid sanctions. Interviews conducted by escorenews.com with various ex-managers and CEOs of Russian esports organizations explained these doubts as Alexii "Magician" Slabukhin and Maria Gunina, the ex-CEO and Sports Director at HellRaisers, both suggested that the new CEO likely has links to ESforce Holdings as a possible way to avoid the sanctions: 

Maria Gunina: The Russian org Virtus.pro will suddenly become Armenian, get rid of all sanctions, and will continue competing like nothing happened. Is there any real investment? Never in my life, I'll believe that.

Magician: Never heard of him before, and many of my friends saw this name for the first time. As I see it, this is the man from inner circles who has ties with Nikolai Petrosyan [ESforce CEO with Armenian origins]. Considering that many people get into esports via such connections, the situation is obvious.

Roman "dvoryrom" Dvoryankin, an ex-CEO at VP, also highlighted that it is odd that VK, a publicly traded company, has not officially announced the investment or acquisition on the Moscow Stock Exchange.

dvoryrom: If Aram has control over VP or is a prominent shareholder with a blocking stake, then, usually, such things are announced on the exchange. It affects the prices.

In a recent interview with Dexerto, the new CEO hoped to squash these claims:

I would like to answer the questions about the transaction once and for all: it was made on market terms. We have provided all the necessary documents to the largest publishers and tournament operators – that’s a fact, not a rumor.

In that interview with Dexerto, Karamanukyan revealed that a “close childhood friend” in the esports industry suggested an investment into VP.

As for the lack of announcement from VK, Karamanukyan stated that he “cannot comment on the actions of our partners” due to signed NDAs. 

While Valve, PGL, ESL, BLAST, CS:GO, and Dota were all referenced in the Dexerto interview, there was no mention of Ubisoft or Rainbow Six Siege.

Nevertheless, it can be assumed the same documents referenced were also sent to Ubisoft, meaning the Virtus.pro brand may be returning to Siege in the coming months. SiegeGG has reached out to Ubisoft for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Outsiders’ next matchup will be against Team BDS today after they lost to Wolves on the opening Stage 3 play day but beat MNM Gaming last week.