Investigation by Players. Why the RCL 2024 tournament in CS2 is a classic example of the russian propaganda machine and "esports in politics"

Антон Мазай

Yesterday, we published a news story that many European teams plan to participate in the russian tournament RCL 2024: Advanced League in CS2. Teams announced: BIG Academy, ENCE Academy, Alliance, GODSENT, ex-Anonymo, Permitta, TSM and Nexus Gaming. Additionally, MOUZ NXT, where Ukrainian player Burmylov is playing, was announced for the tournament, although the player later stated that he would skip this event. It’s still unknown whether the team will withdraw from the tournament or not.

The Players editorial team has gathered all available information about this tournament, its organiser, contractor, and direct connection to the russian government. This tournament is a good example of how such CS2 tournaments are used for propaganda purposes and to whitewash the reputation of a terrorist country among the esports community.

What kind of tournament is this?

RCL 2024: Advanced League is a C-tier online tournament in CS2 with a prize pool of $20,000, which will take place from February 11 to April 15. The top four teams will advance to the LAN finals in moscow.

The organiser is RESF, the contractor is "OOO RUSSIAN ESPORTS LEAGUE"

The tournament is held under the auspices of the russian esports federation - RESF and the organiser RCL, which is an export name for the Western audience. The original name of the championship is "ООО RUSSIAN ESPORTS LEAGUE."

Let's review the founding documents confirming that this tournament is commissioned by the russian government.

Particular attention should be paid to the document entitled "Agreement on the Joint Organisation of Competitions" where the governing organisation agrees to conduct this tournament, transferring the actual execution to the enterprise under the name "OOO ESPORTS LEAGUE."

There’s also another important document, named the regulations approved by RESF, which proves that it’s a joint championship with a STATE STRUCTURE. Further, a direct quote from the document, translated into English:

"The Federation of Computer Sports of russia (ФКС in russian; russian Esports Federation in English) is an all-russian public organization responsible for the development of mass computer sports (esports) in the russian federation. By order of the Ministry of Sports of the russian federation No. 562 of June 15, 2018, ФКС russia is accredited as an all-russian sports federation in the sport "Computer Sports."

In addition, there is an officially approved order from the Ministry of Sports, so we can consider RCL 2024 a state tournament.

Additional facts:

  1. The tournament is obliged to hire referees from RESF who RESF pays.
  2. The tournament must comply with the information policy of RESF and the russian federation.
  3. The tournament has organizers who are members of the state structure.

How does this "public-private partnership" work?

The organiser and client of this tournament is RESF, which outsourced the tournament's organisation to a subcontractor - the private company "OOO ESPORTS LEAGUE" from vladivostok. According to Players' sources, the entire esports offshore in russia happens through this city. This private enterprise operates to do everything without bureaucracy.

The staff of this tournament is all from RESF. We found two administrators on Faceit who previously worked in the esports department of Gazprom (biggest russian state-owned company engaged in the extraction and sale of oil and gas). Considering that they need to pay for the prizes, they used this company, although this tournament is completely state-owned.

If "esports is beyond politics," why participate in a tournament regulated and governed by the state authority of a terrorist country? The contract between the private contractor and the federation essentially transfers financial activity to the private sector to exclude bureaucracy in most matters. Also, the contract specifies a clause where organisers can "conceal the sources of tournament funding." Why hide tournament sponsors if they are private companies? Don't they need to know who is sponsoring this tournament?

Clause 5 of this contract also potentially means receiving money from sanctioned companies and/or from the budget of the russian federation and paying taxes in the russian federation.

Chairman of RESF and his calls for using esports players as military personnel

Let's separately focus on the calls of RESF Chairman - Dmitry Vyacheslavovich Smith. In an interview with the state news agency TASS, he talked about such thingst:

"We came up with the initiative not only for deferment for esports players but also with the initiative to create specialized military units for esports players," - he noted. - “Sportroty” are military units where people serve but continue to compete. I’m talking about the fact that all esports players have developed fine motor skills, most esports players are excellent at remotely controlling objects, and this easily transforms into controlling modern unmanned technology (UAVs). These are not only specialists in drones, but you can put a Dota player, he will learn very easily and quickly."

"This easily transforms into controlling modern unmanned technology (UAVs)" - this is a direct call to form units to control UAVs that bombard cities in Ukraine, killing and maiming civilians.

RESF and DNR (temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine by russia)

In November 2023, RESF  accredited its branch in the DNR (temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine by russia) as a state structure.

The final evidence

It is necessary to note the proximity of any event in russia to state authorities. The decree to hold tournaments is personally issued by the president putin.

Moreover, the president of russia personally attends tournaments funded by RESF and the government.

The Players editorial team sincerely thanks Dmitry Bamb1ni Kuzmenko for his assistance in preparing this investigation.

Subscribe to our Telegram and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news from the world of gaming and eSports

Recent News


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Players is a modern media about Ukrainian and global esports. About games, players, and for players.

Made in Kyiv with ❤️
News, columns and podcasts —
Advertising and partnerships —

Anton Mazai (Publisher and CTO) —
Oleksii Kharchenko (Publisher and Editor-in-Chief) —
Serhiy Taran (Author) —
© 2021-2024 Players. When using materials from the site, a hyperlink to the original article's location page with the Players publication is required.