BLAST ends NEOM partnership amid community and team pressure https://t.co/3hMbpUbVal— HLTVorg (@HLTVorg) August 12, 2020
The decision comes after mounting public and private pressure from teams and the community alike to end the deal, due to ethical concerns and human rights violations associated with NEOM and Saudi Arabia. It seems BLAST - and RFRSH management above them - have acceded to that pressure.
They are not the first high-profile esports league to pull out of a deal with NEOM. Riot Game’s LEC announced a similar deal to BLAST just one day after the CS:GO tournament organisers, but then rapidly cancelled that deal within 24 hours.
(Picture: BLAST Premier)
It took significantly longer for BLAST to make a response or even a statement. Numerous casters and personalities associated with the brand vocally distanced themselves from BLAST on the 5th of August, and a leaked email from Jason “Moses” O’Toole offered a professional, but withering broadside aimed at the tournament organiser over their inaction. “Your silence on this matter,” he said, “is deafening.”
Since the email was leaked I have spoken to a representative of BLAST- about my concerns around the deal and their silence.— Jason O'Toole (@MosesGG) August 8, 2020
I can't speak about the details in the conversation but I would please implore a bit more patience with the pitchforks while waiting for their statement
Moses' own response to the leaked email was to ask for patience - patience that seems to have been rewarded. While there has been no official statement from BLAST Premier yet, if the leaked reports are true, then the community can breathe a sigh of relief that the controversial deal is finished.
Much as with Riot though, questions now have to turn to how such an ethically dubious deal was approved by BLAST - and critique how their silence was intended to push through the controversy.