CS: GO players and commentators criticized the organizers of the BLAST tournament series, who entered into a cooperation agreement with NEOM from Saudi Arabia. They urge to boycott the BLAST brand, ignore its events, competitions and live broadcasts. Cybersport.ru figured out the conflict.
In 2020, urban development company NEOM, which is building the eponymous “city of the future” in northwestern Saudi Arabia, decided to promote its brand through eSports. She has signed contracts with Riot Games, BLAST and other companies, becoming the main sponsor of the LEC European division of League of Legends and a series of CS: GO tournaments.
Upon learning of these deals, the esports community lashed out at the new sponsor and league. Players are unhappy that the organizers are forging partnerships with companies from Saudi Arabia, a country that, in their opinion, does not respect the principles of equality and inclusiveness in relation to its citizens, and also persecutes and discriminates against members of sexual minorities. The community believes that such a company does not correspond to the ideals of esports leagues, which means that it cannot be their sponsor.
How did the League of Legends community react?
The Riot Games-NEOM deal has sparked outrage from League of Legends commentators and streamers. Many of them sharply criticized the company on social media, reminding it that Riot Games has always supported sexual minorities and equality in the past. Other members of the community reminded Riot Games that it has only recently emerged from a string of high-profile sexism scandals in the company, and it should not destroy again only the restored reputation. In the end, Riot Games pulled out of cooperation with NEOM under public pressure, and the company’s management acknowledged the mistakes and apologized to League of Legends fans.
How did the CS: GO community react?
CS: GO fans also opposed the BLAST and NEOM deal, but their actions were not so active. Then some commentators and tournament hosts joined the discussion of the issue.
“The BLAST and NEOM deal is a disgrace to the BLAST brand and organization, which I know has wonderful and talented people. The very idea that this situation can be ignored should not become a standard or a precedent in our community. ”
“If you do not support human rights, then I cannot support you. BLAST’s partnership with NEOM does not live up to our expectations. I join Harry and all my colleagues who have ever been persecuted by archaic governments for being themselves. ”
“The BLAST and NEOM deal is an opportunity to draw conclusions so that we no longer work with people who kill our friends.”
“Let’s be honest: I’m not likely to work with BLAST again. My first and last event with her was back in 2017 at her first tournament in Copenhagen. However, my principles are more important than the possible financial gain. I will not work with this company while it works with NEOM. ”
It is difficult to say how BLAST will respond to the community’s calls. The League of Legends community has had a sharper reaction to the NEOM deal, and commentators from other disciplines have spoken out more often and more aggressively than their CS: GO counterparts.
What will BLAST’s reaction be?
BLAST representatives have not yet commented on the situation with criticism due to the new sponsor. According to esports journalist and insider Rod Slasher Breslau, this conflict could take a different path. He believes that BLAST simply cannot afford to lose financial benefits, which means that it will not abandon the controversial cooperation. According to The Esports Observer, the deal between BLAST and NEOM was worth a million dollars.
“Earlier, BLAST CEO officially announced that the partnership with NEOM was a record deal for the company. Unlike Riot Games, a billion-dollar corporation, BLAST has no chance of weathering the financial blow from breaking a deal with NEOM.
The main criticism of the deal between Riot Games and NEOM came from the company’s employees and on-air talent. At the same time, the owners of the clubs either ignored the topic or refused to talk about the situation, although, according to their own words, they knew about this deal in advance. ”
Breslau believes that if the organizations were silent about the NEOM-Riot Games deal, then the same clubs that have CS: GO rosters are unlikely to hinder NEOM and BLAST cooperation.
“Thanks to the staff at Riot Games, as well as the League of Legends and CS: GO commentators, for openly speaking out against the NEOM deal. They risk losing their jobs in the already rare pandemic available events, but they did the right thing. ”
NEOM is an urban development company and the city of the same name, which it is building on the northwestern border of Saudi Arabia. It is assumed that upon completion of the work, the area of Neoma will be 26.5 thousand square meters. km. – this is more than ten times the area of Moscow. NEOM is owned by a public investment fund run by the government of Saudi Arabia.