US issues sanctions on legendary CIS LoL player Likkrit
Update from April 21, 11:10 CEST:
Likkrit shared a post on his VK page and stated that he left CrowCrowd.
Original article posted on April 20, 23:49 CEST:
On April 20, the US government published a new sanction list over different Russian citizens due to the military actions in Ukraine. League of Legends ex-player Kirill "Likkrit" Malofeyev is on this list.
Do you remember this guy?
Likkrit is probably the most famous player from the CIS region beyond the legendary Gambit Esports/Moscow Five roster featuring Diamondprox, Edward, and others. He was the heart and soul of Albus Nox Luna when they sensationally reached Worlds 2016 playoffs. Despite being maybe the team's best player, his moment of glory was not in-game but during his post-match interview after the game versus G2 Esports.
His phrase, "Being the underdog doesn't mean being the loser. That is all," earned him many fans worldwide. But his speeches were not inspirational all the time. The following season, he was banned for three games in LCL for wishing death in a solo queue game. And the next time, this led to way more serious consequences.
Half a year later, he spoke over League of Legends problems in CIS. He said that the region lacks money and suffers a lot. His speech was expressive as usual, and he said that "the region must die." Later, he deleted the stream, but the record spread. This obviously wasn't an actual death threat but a figure of speech as he mentioned that every good player must leave the CIS region. However, Riot Games Russia banned Likkrit for six months, and he ended his playing career.
Why him, and what does it mean?
But why did the US even issue sanctions over an esports player? The thing is, Likkrit is the son of Konstantin Malofeev, a businessman and an owner of the media group Tsargrad dedicated to Russian Orthodox Christianity and support of President Vladimir Putin. He was put on the OFAC's list of Specially Designated Nationals in 2014. Likkrit appeared in this list of different entities and individuals suspected by the US government of helping Konstantin Malofeev to avoid the sanctions.
Therefore, Likkrit became the first esports personality directly sanctioned due to the situation in Ukraine. Earlier, Virtus.pro, Gambit, and even Team Empire were forced to play under neutral tags in CS:GO, Valorant, Apex Legends, and Rainbow 6. Yes, Kirill is not a player anymore, and it would be tough for him to go on playing if he was, but he is a co-owner and Team Strategic Director at CrowCrowd esports organization, which owns a slot in LCL and the Wild Rift roster.
This might mean that it would be impossible for CrowCrowd to participate in any League of Legends or Wild Rift events until Likkrit has any connections with the team, as Riot Games' headquarters is in California, US.