BLAST ends NEOM partnership amid community and team pressure

The Danish tournament company backed out of the deal after it drew much criticism.

BLAST and NEOM, the Saudi Arabian state-backed futuristic mega-city and business zone, have ended their partnership on mutual agreement, sources with knowledge of the situation have told HLTV.org. The decision was communicated to BLAST's partner teams in a meeting held on Monday evening and followed a growing public outcry over the Danish company's association with the controversial project.

BLAST has come under fire since the July 28 announcement of the partnership, which represented a "a record deal" for the Danish company, according to its CEO, Robbie Douek. In the announcement, BLAST said that it would help establish NEOM as the esports hub in the Middle East.

Public pressure soon began to mount due to Saudi Arabia's history of human rights violations and NEOM's forced eviction of the Huwaitat tribe, who partially occupy the land in the north-west of the country where the city is being built. Alia Hayel Aboutiyah al-Huwaiti, an activist and member of the tribe living in London, recently told The Guardian that NEOM "is being built on our blood". Outrage also stemmed from the fact that LGBT rights are not recognized by the government of Saudi Arabia, where the Islamic Sharia Law is applied.

BLAST's partner teams have stayed silent on this matter, with the exception of Astralis, whose CEO, Anders Hørsholt, described the partnership as "unacceptable". However, HLTV.org knows that, in private, most of them began to voice their concerns to the tournament organiser immediately after the announcement. Complexity CEO Jason Lake wrote on Twitter that, to his knowledge, the partner teams had not been made aware of the deal before it was announced.

Several Counter-Strike talent members, including host and interviewer Frankie Ward, analyst Duncan "⁠Thorin⁠" Shields and commentators Harry Russell, Hugo Byron, Vince Hill, and Dust Mouret, all criticised the partnership on social media and refused to work with BLAST while the deal was in place. Former commentator Jason "⁠moses⁠" O'Toole, who recently joined Liquid as coach, also lashed out at BLAST, saying in an email revealed by DBLTAP that he could not "properly express how frustrating and disappointing this has been for many of us."

BLAST, which declined to comment when contacted by HLTV.org, becomes the second esports company to end a partnership with NEOM in the space of two weeks. At the end of July, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) backed out of a deal just hours after it had announced that the futuristic city would become the showpiece competition's main partner.

United Kingdom Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.00
Maps played:
0
KPR:
0.00
DPR:
0.00
APR:
0.00
United States Jason 'moses' O'Toole
Jason 'moses' O'Toole
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
18
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.15
lol
2020-08-12 19:31
#4
 | 
Finland Cucumber))
GOOD JOB
2020-08-12 19:31
#152
 | 
Czech Republic Noxar
...at submitting to the outrage of a few loudmouths on Twitter? lol
2020-08-12 22:23
Similar thing happened in league of legends, and they drop the deal in only 1 day, and its not only from Twitter many teams behind the scene who are in collaboration with blast also opposed this and also some blast employees, did the right thing
2020-08-13 06:17
No, at not supporting one of the world most oppressive and totalitarian regimes.
2020-08-13 09:30
So true !
2020-08-13 10:26
#5
OK | 
United States Bioax
good
2020-08-12 19:31
#61
 | 
Other g3ks1
good when blast finals prize pool will drop down from 1.5m to 0.5 or less due this shit
2020-08-12 20:00
#114
 | 
India somecunt
But people have to take moral ground on something that's happening on mars,I guess
2020-08-12 21:07
typical navi fan
2020-08-12 21:46
bet its another american capitalist that only thinks about money
2020-08-12 22:18
why do you care lol, you won't see any of that money either way and the players winning it are already rich
2020-08-12 22:29
#178
 | 
Other g3ks1
yeah, but more prize pool mean evolution of pro scene, if not esl and blast we had major 1m prize pool since 2099
2020-08-12 23:47
pumping more money into prize pools will not evolve the scene. it was better back when the prize pools were lower anyway, now tier 3 teams make bank on lower tier tournaments and bad placings/participation money in supposedly "high tier" tournaments that always lack some top teams due to over saturation of tournaments, and won't even bother grinding for the top
2020-08-13 00:46
Blast has not done anything compared to what ESL has done over the last 20 years in all esport scenes
2020-08-13 00:49
True
2020-08-13 08:26
oh no not the prize pool? lets not legalize drugs because drug dealers income will drop from 1million to 10k. lets legalize slavery again so there will be extra money for important things like prize pools.
2020-08-13 11:01
#6
 | 
Czech Republic WhyAmIHere
finally
2020-08-12 19:31
I said it
2020-08-12 19:31
#10
 | 
Germany Gugsch
Nice
2020-08-12 19:31
#11
 | 
United States VoktoroXD
gj
2020-08-12 19:31
#12
 | 
Georgia Megobari
good
2020-08-12 19:32
sad esport is so hypocritical sometimes i cant belive it
2020-08-12 19:32
Rip prizepool
2020-08-12 19:32
#15
 | 
Russia ToughGuy
expected
2020-08-12 19:32
hello nolifer :)
2020-08-12 21:47
lmao
2020-08-12 19:32
Finally!
2020-08-12 19:33
wooooo
2020-08-12 19:33
They'll find another way to bring esports there anyways... makes no difference
2020-08-12 19:33
FINALLY
2020-08-12 19:33
still wont watch their events tho
2020-08-12 19:33
good
2020-08-12 19:34
#25
 | 
Germany Dayjay
Doesn’t matter, just shows Blast will take money over everything but this time they got caught. Disgusting company.
2020-08-12 19:35
ikrxd
2020-08-12 19:38
took them 2 fucking weeks to back and the league company did it in less than 24 hours, blast is a disgusting company
2020-08-12 19:42
fun fact btw LEC had the deal done but delayed it so they release it after berlin pride. Both are just as bad imo
2020-08-12 19:46
ah i didnt know that, even talking to this company is disgusting
2020-08-12 19:47
#55
 | 
Singapore FallBlade
+1
2020-08-12 19:56
+1
2020-08-12 20:51
disgusting? you actually need money to host cs events which are currently not very profitable. It was just another business deal, nothing more nothing less, dunno why everybody cries about it
2020-08-12 21:13
yeah lets partner with company which use people as slaves
2020-08-12 21:51
#143
 | 
Australia Am2de
Then why do you use Amazon?🤔
2020-08-12 22:14
who says he does?
2020-08-12 23:27
i dont
2020-08-13 05:55
#224
 | 
Turkey LantarEZ
+1
2020-08-13 09:37
Finally lol. Took you way to long to end it though.
2020-08-12 19:35
#41
 | 
Sweden Lingon
+1
2020-08-12 19:44
About time
2020-08-12 19:35
#30
 | 
Spain Scar98
W
2020-08-12 19:37
Let’s goo
2020-08-12 19:38
nice
2020-08-12 19:39
What is Saudi Arabia?
2020-08-12 19:41
#40
 | 
Sweden Lingon
Oil
2020-08-12 19:43
UAE oil mark?
2020-08-12 19:52
#56
 | 
Sweden Lingon
Both
2020-08-12 19:57
Racist
2020-08-12 19:43
#206
 | 
Austria doMK0
Look up racism my friend, you are misunderstanding something.
2020-08-13 06:34
#42
 | 
Korea clarityyyy
Finally some good fucking news
2020-08-12 19:44
Now cancel every tournament sponsored by the communist party of China
2020-08-12 19:44
Facts boycott esports in China they are trying to ethnic cleanse a whole population in the north west literally worse than anything Arab countries do and they get boycotted. Hypocritical af if you ask me
2020-08-12 20:11
#82
 | 
Austria SplasJ
China ain't worse they are both garbage though
2020-08-12 20:15
Hypocritical? There is a big difference between just having a presence in a shitty country and actively partnering with agents of its evil regime. I don't recall any of the TOs flying the XPCC flag while hosting their events in China.
2020-08-12 21:40
#189
 | 
United Kingdom trtr098
U actually dumb enough to believe this shit
2020-08-13 00:24
+1
2020-08-12 20:21
SAs political power when they can't blackmail with oil production lol
2020-08-12 19:44
Nice! Fight Against Collectivism!!!
2020-08-12 19:45
#50
 | 
Lebanon Dogman69
who are care
2020-08-12 19:48
For a professional org, they're surprisingly amateur. Before signing up with any sponsors, they should at least vet the sponsor to ensure there is nothing can backfire on them. It is similar to how CSGO team check out new players to ensure they are not VAC-banned or anything like that. They have multiple sponsors so it is important not to cause a scandal because of a new sponsor that leads to other existing sponsors to drop off.
2020-08-12 19:58
I hate this cancel culture nowadays
2020-08-12 20:06
+1
2020-08-12 20:51
good stuff
2020-08-12 20:06
Cucked Gonna move to NEOM city mens)) 😎
2020-08-12 20:11
Based 😎
2020-08-12 20:37
#100
 | 
Poland kvvach
its just PR bullshit. neom wont be build
2020-08-12 20:47
NICE!!!
2020-08-12 20:26
#93
 | 
World Notb8ing
expected, people behind this company are actually worse than hitler
2020-08-12 20:35
Ok
2020-08-12 20:37
#96
 | 
Serbia CoIe47
@lagge15 :)
2020-08-12 20:40
now thinking Astralis' reaction is expected they probably needed outrage to cancel the deal before it dealt huge damage in the future
2020-08-12 20:40
Let me guess they will make a new company that isn't obv related and do the deal again and nobody complain. UNO is often used for this.
2020-08-12 20:47
#103
 | 
Poland kvvach
feelsgood mens
2020-08-12 20:49
Racist Danes – what a shocker!!
2020-08-12 20:49
#107
 | 
Netherlands Sem0733
Mission accomplished.
2020-08-12 20:57
reddit moment hypocricy
2020-08-12 20:58
#109
 | 
India somecunt
SJWs has even captured the scene I guess, see the fucking Iphones material mines in africa,no one gives a shit, No deals are cancelled,nothing. In the past a lot of multi-billion projects have been established in the same way but people have to boycott a fucking saudi arabia thing where there is no human rights anyways. Now who tf will sponspor them step ahead please.
2020-08-12 21:01
#110
 | 
India somecunt
CS:GO have a history of very less sponsors and now this.
2020-08-12 21:02
Oh well , islam and their various laws. These kind of people and religions and shit like that should be away of our beloved games and tours.
2020-08-12 21:03
#112
 | 
Europe Vallon4
How have SA violated human rights?
2020-08-12 21:05
Ask Jamal Khashoggi, he's a journalist and was critical of Saudi Government, oh wait, of course. I don't expect you to know who he is, you're probably too ignorant on world affairs
2020-08-12 22:06
I'll focus on the 2019 alone since otherwise the topic would get too far and wide. I'm really surprised you are not aware of these things. Saudi-Arabia has been seen as one of the biggest human rights violators on Earth. In 2019 alone the authorities escalated repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including in their crackdown on online expression. They harassed, arbitrarily detained and prosecuted government critics, human rights defenders, members of the Shi’a minority and family members of activists. In April, the authorities arbitrarily arrested 14 individuals for their peaceful support of the women’s rights movement and women human rights defenders. Just weeks before they allowed women to drive they prosecuted two female women's rights activists for their wish to get women the right to drive. The prosecutors sought the death penalty. The authorities continued to arrest, prosecute and imprison human rights defenders for their peaceful activities and human rights work under, among other legislation, the counter-terrorism law and the cybercrime law, which criminalizes online criticism of government policies and practice as well as commentary on current affairs. By the end of the year, virtually all Saudi Arabian human rights defenders were in detention without charge, or were on trial or serving prison terms. The authorities continued to arbitrarily detain human rights defenders for prolonged periods without bringing them before a judge or charging them. Mohammed al-Bajadi, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, remained held without charge or trial since his detention in May 2018. On 23 April, 37 Saudi Arabian men were executed. They had been convicted in various trials before the SCC. Most were Shi’a Muslims convicted after grossly unfair trials that relied on “confessions” tainted by torture allegations. At least 15 others were convicted of violent offences related to their participation in anti-government demonstrations in the Shi’a-majority Eastern Province between 2011 and 2012. They were subjected to prolonged pre-trial detention and told the court that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated during interrogation to make them “confess”. Among them was Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, a young Shi’a man who was arrested when aged 16. Shi’a Muslims continued to face discrimination because of their faith, limiting their right to express religious beliefs and access justice, as well as their right to work in a number of public sector professions and access state services. Source: Amnesty International, various news articles, common knowledge about the region.
2020-08-13 17:42
Oh yeah!
2020-08-12 21:18
I understand that the partnership with NEOM may have sounded like a great idea because of how much money they have, but organizations / companies should do proper research on other organizations / companies that they may have a potential partnership with. It took public pressure for LEC and BLAST to back out of their partnerships with NEOM. It shouldn't have to come down to the public, especially their supporters, telling them that another company has a bad history.
2020-08-12 21:22
lost all respect i had for blast
2020-08-12 21:26
#125
tarik | 
Norway MD!
Sjw propaganda is too strong these days sadly. This NEOM would've been sick for CS as a whole but you cant get shit with crybabies on the internet. They let it slide for China and US army sponsoring shit like the hypocritical c*nts thry are.
2020-08-12 21:28
"they let it slide for China and US army" are you living under a rock? did you miss the whole boycott against Blizzard for censoring Hong Kong supporters last year? did you forget last month there was a big outrage against the US army and navy?
2020-08-12 23:33
#242
tarik | 
Norway MD!
Blizzard still working with china and censoring people . US army still streaming, linking kids to join the army and sponsoring orgs.
2020-08-13 14:43
eg sponsored by u.s army but no one complains xaxaxaxaxaxa joke community
2020-08-12 21:39
Cowards
2020-08-12 21:52
Good for BLAST, I support them doing this movement. Yes, Chinese influence is also bad. But one thing at a time, we should back BLAST on moving out of this deal.
2020-08-12 22:47
Good what lmao, they backed out just because they'd get stuck with shitty tier 2/3 casters and teams and lose plenty of viewers by being stubborn with this deal
2020-08-12 23:15
Good that they backed out of it, we should support them to do the same with other bad companies.
2020-08-12 23:16
We should support those who do right in the first place.
2020-08-12 23:22
Quite difficult to do when many organisers are happy to work for and accept China money for example.
2020-08-12 23:29
I mean now their stuck with Hugo and Harry what's the difference
2020-08-13 11:14
#166
 | 
Israel SOEZ4NIK0
Fuck NEOM
2020-08-12 23:17
good thing, it was necessary
2020-08-12 23:35
Aren't they backed by a some chinese guys? What a hypocritical community lmao
2020-08-12 23:40
Whataboutism alert
2020-08-12 23:39
Ofcourse they are
2020-08-13 11:13
so blast dont know that before start? nice lie
2020-08-12 23:49
#180
 | 
Poland SebL
Really good, that's a great decision from BLAST. Something like that is unacceptable.
2020-08-12 23:57
ok, now fire frankie and get some not brainwashed attractive girl
2020-08-13 00:14
Snowflakes pressure 😂😂😂
2020-08-13 00:16
Ofc its all hypocritical Before this got exposed even hltv and china betting sites were into deals. Ps dont forget airforce one sponsor of major omegalul and now all of a sudden we’re talkin about morals etc?😂😂oh stop it already hltv
2020-08-13 00:18
biggest muslim killing country and war monger usa and uk, france, spain, germany selling weapons to saudi is alright though
2020-08-13 01:29
Saudi killing gays is bad bad but America killing people innocent people in Afghanistan and Iran for oil and Israel killing people in Palestine is fine cause the people being killed are muslims xaxaxaxa typical western hypocrisy
2020-08-13 11:12
Jonathan E. Take me away
2020-08-13 11:13
Muslims playing the victims, specially after so many atrocities the last decade. In the end youll tell us ISIS is for good purpose but when many down there helped USA to dethrone Sadam and they were killing their own people to take over, is another story ha ? Lets not talk about hypocrisy. Both of you all and USA done some serious shit. I have alot of shit to say for USA and IRAQi wars but i know your shits as well pretty well so please.
2020-08-13 17:17
Saudis are cringe and Blast has no shame both got rekt lul
2020-08-13 01:49
Putting politic on esport. GG wp idiots
2020-08-13 03:07
Ok, let ISIS next to promote next major. Who cares right ?
2020-08-13 17:17
Why not ?
2020-08-13 17:38
And that's too easy to put on the table directly the shittiest example just to end the debate... That's a shame.
2020-08-13 17:40
I want to visit NEOM now wtf
2020-08-13 04:33
good
2020-08-13 07:59
#218
 | 
Turkey erturkgg
Expected from Rfrsh
2020-08-13 08:35
Please more politics in gaming industries I love it
2020-08-13 08:43
Saudi money is a curse
2020-08-13 11:04
Now cancel every patnership with China and other middle eastern countries Xaxaxaxaxa hypocrites
2020-08-13 11:11
#240
 | 
Australia csRIOTgo
Just rekt the Saudi, they destroyed the middle east. Selling out to the zionist LOL
2020-08-13 11:59
#241
 | 
Canada cLutcheR7
Thank you BLAST.
2020-08-13 14:30
#251
 | 
Russia V9l1k
Critics ? There are 2 people howling that's all, what's the difference how they are treated ?
2020-08-13 20:31
First time i see people take redit's bitching seriously
2020-08-15 12:55
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