An alleged racist interaction that occurred during a match in DotA 2 recently has caused Alexei “Solo” Berezin, a Russian professional player, to announce his refusal to participate in the Epicenter Major tournament next month. Comments that Berezin found to be racist were made by fellow professional player Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs, who is also known as Ceb, towards both Solo and another Russian player. The interaction, which you can read some of in a Reddit thread posted by another player, has caused Solo to refuse to participate in the Epicenter Major being held in his home country of Russia until Valve publicly acknowledges the incident and vows to addresses the racism in the game.
The Epicenter Major is the largest DotA 2 tournament in Russia, and the last chance for teams in the Pro Circuit to qualify for the Internationals, the concluding tournament in the Pro Circuit. Winners of the Epicenter Major will not only receive an invitation to the Internationals, but will walk away with a cool $350,000 prize. As a result of the incident, Solo will be passing up a chance at helping his team to the Internationals and making out with a large amount of money. Instead, he will be making a statement against racism by sitting out of one of the largest tournaments in his home country.
Solo has released a post on VK, a Russian social media site, speaking about the incident. In the post, speaks about the Russian slurs used by Ceb in the game, saying there is absolutely no need for it, regardless of how frustrated he may have been. “You simply can’t say these things no matter what caused them. I am proud to be Russian and your words leave me speechless. You’re not some young player who can do careless stuff because he might not understand the consequences,” reads Solo’s post. After noting a few examples of racism in the DotA 2 scene, he states that he will not participate in the Epicenter Major until “Valve openly speaks about this case and ensures consistency and transparency when it comes to treating racism in our game.”
Solo’s comments were not the only ones made regarding the incident. Ceb himself also took to the internet to defend his behavior, though does offer an apology for his words. According to Ceb, the comments Berezin found racist were made due to the toxicity of Solo and another player. “The reason why I wrote ‘russians’ with an ‘s’ is not because I was generalizing, but because himself and nyx were making fun of the situation and ruining intentionally the game. Both being russians, I just named it.” He continues, “Nevertheless, the example I set, falling to my own temper is very poor and unacceptable, even facing a game ruiner. I do apologize to him for the words I used, even though he deserves punishment for his behaviour.”
Currently, Valve has not made any public comments on the incident, and Solo’s refusal to attend the Epicenter Major still stands.