The war-torn journey of Qlash Esports founder Eugene Katchalov

Eugene katchabsolutelyco-founder of an esports company Qlash and the most successful Ukrainian poker player of all time, recalls receiving a call from a friend 5:30 a.m. on February 24. This is when he discovered that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had officially start.

katchabsolutely and his wife immediately jumped out of bed to fill a backpack with warm clothes. Otherwise, they were prepared. A few weeks earlier, as threats from Russia escalated, they had gathered their passports, marriage license, jewelry, withdrawn money from their bank and ensured that the gas tank of their car is always nearly full. So, in just 30 minutes, they were out.

They fled their home Kyiv (also known as Kyiv) and traveled about 20 miles to seek refuge with a friend’s parents, a safer place to stay than the Ukrainian capital. Of the, Kachalovhis wife and two friends then began their journey from outside Kyiv in Budapest, Hungary, seeking refuge amid the biggest military attack on European soil since World War II.

They arrived at the border two days later after driving for more than 20 hours, an escape none of them will forget. Since the invasion, Kachalov documented his experiences to Twitter and appeared on FoxNews.

Eugene Katchalov, sitting in the house of his friend’s parents in Ukraine, a few hours before embarking on a perilous exit from the country.

“The worst we saw when we were leaving Kiev to go to the border, we heard very loud explosions and saw very big explosions, but in the distance”, katchabsolutely recount SportTechie, now staying at an Airbnb in Budapest. “We heard military planes and helicopters flying directly overhead and through rows of military vehicles traveling the other way. At any time, we realized that they can be attacked. See the panic on people’s faces in Kyiv as we were leave when everyone is jostling to get out—that was also annoying.

“At the same time, I consider it almost nothing compared to what some of our friends who are still there, what they saw and the destruction we see in the videos,” he says. “There are also people we know who are still in Kyiv and work for the army or the police. These people are the real heroes here.

Kachalov41 years old, is a native of Kyiv who had fled the country once before. When he was 10, his parents rushed out of Ukraine in August 1991, just as the Soviet Union was collapsing. They settled in Brooklyn, New York, where Kachalov earned his business degree from NYU and became a US citizen. He started playing poker professionally in 2003 and has since won over $9.2 million in career earnings.

He returned to his Kyiv about five years ago, after online poker site PokerStars named him a global ambassador for represent Ukraine. It was back in his native country that he met his wife, originally from Ukraine whose family also fled the country for Hungary. Kachalov shared a video on Twitter describing his wife’s clothing store in Kharkov whose windows were shattered by a nearby explosion.

Before leaving Ukraine, by Katchalov woman sent the equivalent of two months’ salary to her 40 employees. Upon arriving in Budapest, the husband-wife duo hosted a Ukrainian refugee family with three children to stay in their Airbnb, while using social media to find homes for refugees across Europe.

Kachalov also managed to have intermittent contact in one way or another with his wife’s sister in Kharkovin Ukraine, where Russian missiles narrowly missed his apartment complex, forcing him and his neighbors to hide in the building’s basement for four to five days.

“Life is just normal here [in Budapest]. People are laughing, walking their dogs, holding hands, like, nothing is event,” Kachalov said. “This is almost like you were in a bad dream and you woke up at the top, but you realize it’s still happening somewhere. Up to you actually feel the threat to your life, you don’t realize how worrying it is, What is that actually going to. We never thought it was going to be a total invasion with tanks and carpet bombs and using illegal weapons that kill civilians.

Kachalovnow a retired from the professional poker circuit for a few years, founded esports-Event organizer Qlash in 2017 with fellow professional poker player Luca Pagano. Qlash’s the mobile app has more than 100,000 registered users and 20,000 monthly active users. Qlash’s website promotes a emergency fundraiser with the King Baudouin Foundation USA to provide food, shelter and Mmedical assdistance people in Ukraine and refugees.

“Something I discussed with my partner is maybe organizing events, raising money for the war effort,” katchabsolutely said. “There are so many refugees who has escaped, and they just do not do really an accommodation. They do not do really money for food.

A Russian missile embedded in the street outside Katchalov's sister-in-law's apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

A Russian missile embedded in the street outside Katchalov’s sister-in-law’s apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Qlash is headquartered in Pagano’s native Italy with Satellite offices in Spain, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Egypt. He also announced the expansion in Mexico earlier this year. Enterprise application hosts online tournaments for games such as FIFA, NBA 2K, Brawl Stars, Clash Royale, Clash of Clans and Fortnite.

Qlash also sets up professional esports teams, such as AC Milan Qlash, who started playing in tournaments for various games in 2020 across Qlash’s partnership with the eminent Italian football club. Qlash also partnered with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020 to host an online NBA 2K tournament with NBA 2K League team affiliate Bucks Gaming.

“We take the lesson from what PokerStars has done with me and my partner [Pagano] and with other professional players”, Kachalov said. “Fundamentally, we represented their brand, and they use us to interact and engage with poker fans. were do something very similar in games and esports. Most of the events we organize online on our platform are aimed at non-professional gamers for them to have fun, maybe win some money, play with their favorite player.

Katchalov, co-founder of esports company Qlash, safe and sound in Budapest after more than 20 hours on the road out of war-ravaged Ukraine.

Katchalov, co-founder of esports company Qlash, safe and sound in Budapest after more than 20 hours on the road out of war-ravaged Ukraine.

Flutter Entertainment-belonging PokerStars announced on Wednesday that it was suspending its services in Russia, along with many other major global sports and entertainment brands. the NBA and NHL are among the major US leagues to have cut off trade relations with Russia due to the government’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I support those actions, and I totally support Russia’s fundamentally complete isolation today,” katchabsolutely said. “I think every Ukrainian has family in Russia, [and] many of my Russian friends and family contacted me privately in horror for What is that past. Although it hurts ordinary businesses and people in Russia, I do not do see another way to get [Vladimir] Putin to back down. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m there must be painful enough in Russia that its own people would just say, “Okay, that’s enough, we need someone else.” I do not do see another way for us to end this conflict.

Comments are closed.