The LEC recently announced NEOM as its new main partner for the 2020 LEC Summer Split, and that announcement was followed by a lot of criticism from both LEC staff and the community.
NEOM is based in Saudi Arabia and will be the home and workplace for millions of citizens. The project is backed by the Saudi Arabian government and its vision is to build a city based on a new model for sustainable living, covering an area at the size of Belgium in the northern part of Saudi Arabia. The city will allegedly include an artificial moon, flying taxis, and other futuristic features.
LEC announced that NEOM will be sponsoring the “Oracle Lens” during every live broadcast.
“NEOM has their sights set on the future – and to help future-proof the LEC stage, they’ll be sponsoring the Oracle Lens during live broadcasts which helps players predict the next moves a team will make. Starting from Summer Week 7, NEOM joins Kia, Alienware, and KitKat, completing the lineup of our main partners for this season,” LEC said in the announcement.
— LEC (@LEC) July 29, 2020
While the LEC seems to be proud of its new partner, that pride doesn’t carry over to the LEC staff and the League of Legends community.
It didn’t take long for several personalities from the LEC broadcast to voice their opinions about the partnership on social media. The same goes for the community, which was largely furious that the LEC has opted in to such a partnership.
The league I cover is now promoting a country that would kill me just for existing. Feels great.
— James ‘Stress’ O’Leary (@StressCasts) July 29, 2020
There have been many good days to be a member of the #LEC team, today is not one of those days.
— Daniel Drakos (@DanielDrakos) July 29, 2020
The criticism is based on the fact that NEOM is a part of Saudi Arabia, a country that is known for its quiestionable human rights record. The criticism has mainly been focused on Saudi Arabia and its extreme actions regarding LGBT rights. The country is known to punish homosexuality and transgender people, while the LEC has been promoting LGBT rights through its pride logo on broadcasts and in social media. The community has already called LEC out for being contradictory and many fans are voicing that they won’t be watching LEC in the coming week.
Shortly after the announcement, former LoL coach Michael “Veteran” Archer tweeted that LEC teams had an opportunity to veto this partnership, but that no one did. Shortly after this comment was made, G2 CEO Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez denied the claim. Ocelote further stated that “G2 nor myself will be taking money ‘earned’ from genocide and ethnic cleansing,” after it was mentioned that LEC teams might get a cut from the newly signed partnership with NEOM.
The LEC will have its first segment presented by NEOM in week 7 of the 2020 LEC Summer Split.