Whilst the globe continues to turn and normality remains for most of the world, it’s impossible to ignore the terrible events going on between Russia and Ukraine.
The world’s news outlets report on what support goes out to those on the receiving end in Ukraine and the sanctions given to Russia. but what of the sim racers of Russia?
I spoke to Andrey Tarabukin, who is 15 years old and racing under Team Shazoo’s banner, as he explains how he has been affected by the events in his country.
Firstly, are you and your family ok?
Yes, we are now ok, we are 300 km from Kyiv and so far there have been no war actions in our town.
That’s good to hear. How have the sanctions affected daily life for you?
Food prices in stores are growing strongly, we can’t renew the subscription on services like Spotify, games like iRacing, can’t buy so many games in Steam and etc. many manufacturers of clothing, food is also leaving the Russian market.
So the games you already have are still ok?
Yes, on Monday, we had 15 mins of pain, we lost EA sports games (F1 2021 too), but now we can play games we have, but can’t buy any others.
Does it feel like you will lose access to what you already bought? Do you think that will happen?
I hope that doesn’t happen, but every day more and more sanctions are imposed on Russia, but I don’t think it will happen.
Worrying times ahead for the youngster, and whilst sim racing won’t be at the top of the priority list for him right now, it goes to show how the struggle that the country is in is affecting all aspects of life. Speaking with Christopher O’Neill, Owner and CEO of Team Shazoo, this is what they had to say:
As a number of sports stars have lost their places in their teams due to their nationality (such as Mazepin in Haas F1), how does Shazoo support drivers like Andrey in the current climate?
We have made sure not to treat anyone any differently, as our drivers have been devastated by the ongoing situation and refuse to be silenced on social media, by using certain methods to enable them to remain active and up to date on platforms, something we hear their government is actively trying to prevent.
One of the great things we are seeing is the members around these drivers supporting them and really making the effort to make them aware that we know they don’t believe in this war that has been ongoing. In times of war like this, I believe our Russian drivers appreciate the friendships being shown by fellow teammates and understanding about the overall situation.
One of the great values we hold here at Shazoo is the development of a family-like bond between teammates, and in this situation, we believe in particular for our more active Russian drivers within the team it is of great benefit to them.
It’s great to see that Shazoo is showing solidarity and belief in their Russian members and that is reflected in the Shazoo family as a whole. Do you feel that the esports world can show the real world the meaning of that family bond that Shazoo demonstrates?
I think that Esports will show a different stance to traditional sports and other industries, a lot of the sanctions and exclusion we are seeing relate to mega-money events, oligarchs with Putin connections, high-value Russian businesses and trades and sports people that would be showcasing Russia on a global stage to name a few.
Another important factor is generational changes, esports competitors are 10000% of a different generation to the leaders of the current world and there would be very few out there in esports, I reckon that would say war is the way.
I don’t think it relates much to esports leading the way but more, young generations walking a new and better path than what our past leaders have walked.
Never a truer word spoken, nor a more profound statement be made.
We say thank you to both Andrey and Christopher for providing an insight into the effects on the youth in Russia and also how Esports can remain a place where the judgemental actions of the world don’t hold sway over the talents of competitors.