Some CSGO talents boycott BLAST over partnership with NEOM

Olivia Richman • August 6, 22:45

Soon after the BLAST Premier Pro Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament series announced a new partnership with NEOM, some top CSGO talent came out to make clear that they wouldn’t work with BLAST any longer. 

NEOM, a developing tourist attraction in Saudi Arabia also came under fire in the LEC when League of Legends talent revolted after Riot Games’ European competitive league had partnered with NEOM. The LEC wound up ending their partnership with NEOM when the talent accused them of “fake activism.” Now, CSGO talent are pushing for the same response from BLAST. 

Vance Hill, Frankie Ward, Harry Russell, and Hugo Bryon have all pulled out of BLAST events because of the NEOM partnership, citing NEOM’s abuse of indigenous communities and inhumane treatment of people within the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Blast x NEOM is a disgrace to the BLAST brand, an organization I know is filled with wonderful, talented, and loving individuals. The idea that this could be ‘silenced’ through ignoring it is not a standard of precedent that should be set,” Russell tweeted. 

Bryon responded that everyone to “educate themselves” on NEOM’s human rights violations. This includes destroying indigenous cities and evicting people from their ancestral homelands, according to The Guardian. NEOM was also accused of murdering protest leaders who opposed its development. 

The CSGO talent also noted that Saudi Arabia’s government has implemented anti-LGBTQ laws. This includes criminalizing same-sex relationships and criminalizing the act of wearing clothing that they feel isn’t fit for a person’s sex. The US Department of State Human Rights Report stated that same-sex sexual conduct can be punishable by flogging and even death in Saudi Arabia. 

“I’m reminding people that some countries actually criminalize people to the point of a death sentence for not being straight,” Ward tweeted when questioned why she was not going to work with BLAST over the partnership. 

BLAST Pro Series has yet to respond to the outcry from members of the CSGO community. As of the time of publishing, BLAST remains partnered with NEOM. 

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