BLAST announced a partnership deal with NEOM and that unsurprisingly has caused some people to shake their heads. Others have done more than that as several CS:GO casters have announced their intentions to sever ties with the CS:GO tournament organizer if and until the partnership isn't nullified.
BLAST Bring Heat Upon Their Backs
BLAST could have learned from the LEC's unfortunate experience with a NEOM partnership's viewing in the public eye, but nah. Corporations never pay attention to that type of stuff. NEOM seems to be on the hunt for partnerships in the esports world as just last week, the LEC announced a deal with the Saudi Arabian entity. The backlash was so strong that not even a full day passed before the deal was called off.
For some reason, BLAST expected that their own announcement would go any different. It didn't. Immediately after the news broke out the CS:GO community was just as outraged as that of League of Legends before it. Who would have thought that westerners would find it difficult to accept to support a partnership with a regime known for its extremely poor human rights stats?
It's not just CS:GO fans that are making noise. Prominent hosts and casters are doing the same thing. Vince Hill, Hugo Byron, Harry Russell and Frankie Ward are among those most vocal on the matter. They all took to Twitter to voice their discontent and went on a self-proclaimed strike until the deal is dropped. If it's dropped.
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NEOM is Saudi Arabia's pipe dream of a modern city on the coast of the Red Sea. The project is in the cost range of $500 billion, which is already cause for concern given the country's average life quality, human rights abuse and repression of women and non-straight people.
BLAST is one of the more progressive tournament organizers in CS:GO and esports as a whole. They brough some fresh formats and excitement to a scene that was maybe becoming a bit stale. The fun, easy-going atmosphere at BLAST events was definitely a breath of fresh air back when they first emerged in 2017.
You could see where the partnership between these two entities collides on a strict energy level. It's good to see that there are still people with enough integrity to potentially risk a couple bucks in exchange for some peace of mind. Hopefully, the same will happen here as it did with the LEC. Hopefully, someone will look past the billions and address what's happening in Saudi Arabia. Hopefully.