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Statement on Prizes for Russian and Belarusian Competitors


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  • Project Director

Hi everyone,

I thought it was appropriate to give you an update about our rulings and thinking around the topic of the war in Ukraine, and how this impacts players from Russia or Belarus. There recently has been a topic on RTS-Sanctuary criticising our policy, which has lead us to review our rulings, as well as to have some discussions with other tournament organizers to exchange ideas.

Why This Is Even A Thing?

To preface this, the simple undeniable fact is that since Russia and Belarus have invaded the Ukraine and that NATO countries have sanctioned both aggressor nations. Several corporations have pulled out of both, and all this impacts our ability to pay competitors from these countries, as they are now cut off from the SWIFT banking system, as well as PayPal, both of which we use to pay out prizes.

Our Stance & Rulings

Every single one of us at Meta Plays is against the war, and for what it's worth, we are calling for all aggression by Russia and Belarus to cease. We see Ukraine as the victim of unprovoked attacks.

As a group, our staff has decided to go along with the sanctions. We are not looking for ways to go around the sanctions, or to hold winnings. We also don't believe that the sanctions will be lifted any time soon. 

We are not banning Russian or Belarusian competitors. In fact, players of these nationalities residing in other regions of the world, or having financial accounts elsewhere should have no problems collecting their prizes.

I re-iterate: this is not about nationality, but residence and the physical location of financial accounts.

However, winnings of players residing in Russia or Belarus that we are not able to pay out - such as in the event they and their payment methods reside in either country - will be re-purposed and paid to charities unrelated to the war. The choice of unrelated charities is so that we protect competitors residing in Russia or Belarus, as there is a slight chance that aiding a Ukraine-based charity could be seen as treason by their respective regimes. We mean no harm to innocent civilians who happen to be living in these regions.

Lastly, we are introducing new rulings around player or viewer messaging that refers to supporting the war - meaning expression of approval of the atrocities committed, and encouraging further acts of violence in the conflict. Should we receive any report of one of our competitors or other members doing this on any platform whatsoever (including external ones), we will take action in the form of a permanent ban on all Meta Plays platforms for all types of activities (chatting, tournament participation, etc).

Messaging targeting our staff with excessively derogatory language citing this policy is going to result in the same permanent bans. We will not tolerate abuse towards our staff, especially if it is done with the purpose of spreading pro-war messaging and propaganda.

An example of this would be instances of our actions around this policy having been referred to as Nazism, racist, with comparisons to slavery (see the thread linked earlier). All involved parties already doing this are no longer welcome in our community.

We do invite respectful discussion, however, even if it is critical of our stance. We can always tweak things. I can promise you this much: we will hear you out and discuss options - please do not hesitate to discuss your viewpoint in a civilized manner.

What Has Changed Compared To Before?

See the tweaks below:

  • Players residing in Belarus will now be officially referred to in our rules along with those residing in Russia.
    • We will clarify that payments are available to Russian and Belarusian citizens residing in foreign countries, or ones with access to foreign, non-sanctioned payment methods.
  • Players sending us their payment information automatically confirm that they are the owner of the account. We will not pay out to known third parties. Meta Plays will not take responsibility for funds getting lost to third parties in the event of the account not belonging to the player.
  • New rule: Messaging targeting our staff on any platform with excessively derogatory language, such as the recent citing of our sanction-compliant payment policy will result in a permanent ban on all Meta Plays platforms.
  • Rule change: We will specify that the target charity of re-purposed winnings will not be related to the current conflict in Ukraine.
  • We will clarify the language of the rulings further to avoid misunderstandings, particularly on the topic of residency mattering over nationality.

Any Plans To Support Ukraine?

To this end, we would like to encourage suggestions about what kind of actions we should take to actually help Ukraine. Everything so far in this post above doesn't help, but simply deals with the current realities of financial institutions.

We DO want to make a contribution that will actually make a difference to war-struck Ukrainians. There are many options.

We could:

  • Host a charity tournament or event series. The "prize pool" would actually be a "charity pool" that we'd raise as a community, meaning that the money would go to charities rather than players.
  • Have a donation goal open at all times. We'd deposit funds from this at regular intervals, such as every 200 USD for example.
  • Have links on all our platforms to encourage visitors to donate to relevant charities.

Please suggest more! We will take your feedback into account and make at least some of these happen.

Thank you for reading all of this, and for understanding the complicated situation we are all in.

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