Virtus.pro have become the first team to officially announce their withdrawal from the Dota 2 tournament Galaxy Battles II, after Valve removed the event's Pro Circuit points and prize money.
VP's General Manager, Roman Dvoryankin, said that the developer's decision to rescind the competition's Major status was the key factor in their choice to withdraw, although he was thankful for Valve's strong communication with the attending teams:
“Considering yesterday's Valve's resolution regarding Galaxy Battles II official Dota Pro Circuit championship status withdrawal, we have made the decision of declining the tournament's invitation. I wish to thank Valve's management for effective addressing of the problem and excellent communication with the teams. The status withdrawal from Valve was the main reason behind our cancellation of the invitation. The said status, among all things, defines standards of players' safety, event's technical security and logistics on the event's organizers. Furthermore, the participation in top rating tournaments has always been our main goal, therefore Galaxy Battles DPC points loss absolves the tournament of sense in that regard."
The concerns to players' safety were raised after a statement from the Philippines' Games and Amusement Board, which clarifies the need for drug tests for incoming esports competitors. The drugs tested for are THC (found in marijuana) and metamphetimine hydrochloride, and the country has infamously strict rulings for offenders, with a bill to reinstate capital punishment making it to the Senate in 2017.
Virtus.pro confirmed that instead of travelling to Manila, where the Galaxy Battles was due to be held, the Dota 2 roster will instead continue their Moscow bootcamp. Their first tournament of 2018 will be ESL Genting, the first Dota 2 Minor to be held in Malaysia.
UPDATE: John Yao, the CEO of Team Secret, commented on Reddit regarding the concerns surrounding the drug testing:
"For the record, the concern was not drug testing in itself... the issue is that any drug testing would not be done according to international standards, in a WADA-certified lab. There’s not enough transparency there, and therefore introduces a lot of risk to foreigners in a unfamiliar environment.
I can’t speak for Valve, but those were the first concerns that come to mind for me when it comes to mitigating risk and protecting my players."