Sh1ro Defends Alleged Controversial Symbol In CS:GO Stickers
Dmitriy "sh1ro" Sokolov, a Russian Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professional competing for Cloud9 (after their recent shock acquisition of the Gambit Esports roster) has defended his in-game sticker that has been released ahead of PGL Antwerp, following accusations from opposing professionals that the drawing contains a symbol of victory used by the Russian military in their invasion of Ukraine.
Following on from the news that a Dota 2 player was banned from competing and dropped by Virtus.pro for drawing a 'Z' symbol in-game, sh1ro's sticker was accused of containing a similar message.
Journalist "neLendirekt" accused the CS:GO pro of drawing the symbol to underline his own name - a claim that has now been debunked.
Sh1ro Defends CS:GO Sticker Amid Controversial Claims
The sticker in question sees sh1ro's in-game alias covered over a Cloud9 badge, and underlined with a Z-like squiggle, leading to debates as to whether it is the same symbol used by the Dota 2 player, "Pure".
Having seen the criticism of his sticker rise on social media, sh1ro took to social media to say, "Don't look for hidden meaning where there is none. My business is to play cs, not to do covert diversions."
Since the invasion of Ukraine from his Russian natives, sh1ro has actively relayed a joint message from the ex-Gambit roster that condemned the war and unjust violence, which also read "let's not engage politics in esports, but engage mutual respect and support." The CS:GO pro has also moved out of Russia to enable his career.
Sh1ro's CS:GO Sticker Was Signed Off Before The Russian Invasion
The 'Z' symbol is alleged to be a sign of victory used by the Russian military in the invasion of Ukraine, often seen painted onto tanks to avoid friendly fire. The symbol has been adopted by some personalities, such as Gymnast Ivan Kuliak, a bronze medallist in the Apparatus World Cup, which is seemingly supporting the conflict.
However, sh1ro's CS:GO sticker was in fact designed and signed off on before the invasion took place, as confirmed by the designer himself. "These stickers were made long before the things that are happening at the moment," said Gambit Esports designer Pavel Ilyashenko, on Twitter.
For sh1ro, and Cloud9, their journey at the PGL Major Antwerp begins on May 14th, as they have been seeded into the Legends Stage. Currently ranked as the third-best team in the world, Cloud9 could be poised to take home the $500,000 winning prize.