Less than 24 hours have passed since the official announcement, and the cooperation between the League of Legends European Championship and NEOM has ended. This was announced in a special announcement that appeared on the official website of the competition. Looking at how the League of Legends European community reacted, it was the only reasonable way out of the situation.
Among the readers of this article, there will certainly be those who missed yesterday’s confusion. So let’s go back to it and start all over again. On Wednesday after 1 p.m., information about a new LEC partner, NEOM, appeared on social media. What is NEOM, or in fact, what will it be in a few years? The city of the future in Saudi Arabia, which is to attract both tourists from around the world and investors, and whose creation is to cost $ 500 billion. Its founder is Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud — the crown prince and heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia.
Let’s say it again: it is about Saudi Arabia, a country where, according to Freedom House, human rights violations are notoriously violated. A country where you can die for being homosexual. There was therefore no question of any consistency with what the LEC was trying to promote, which it supports, among others, from LGBT groups. It is therefore not surprising that the reaction of the community was so negative.
Everyone spoke — from fans and observers of the LoL scene to people who we see regularly on broadcasts of these struggles. And basically everyone unanimously expressed their bitterness with the step taken by the LEC.
The LEC was therefore highly criticized, and only one move could make it regain at least some of the lost trust among fans. Of course, we are talking about breaking this new cooperation. A few hours ago, the leaders of the European League of Legends announced that they had decided to take such a step. Here is the content of the published statement:
As a company and as a league, we know it is important to recognize when we make mistakes and work quickly to correct them. After further reflection – while we remain steadfastly devoted to all our players and fans around the world, including those living in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East – LEC immediately ends its cooperation with NEOM. In our efforts to expand our esports ecosystem, we’ve gone too quickly to establish this partnership and have created some grief in the community we’re trying to grow. While we have not lived up to our own expectations in this case, we are committed to re-examining our internal structures to make sure it does not happen again.
The bad taste will of course remain, but in the end the LEC did the right thing. The question is whether BLAST, a tournament operator in the CS:GO scene, which started working with NEOM a few days ago, will follow the same path.