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Women Esports Personalities Share Concern Over $1.5billion ESL FACEIT Merger

Women Esports Personalities Share Concern Over $1.5billion ESL FACEIT Merger
Riot Games | ESL

Written by 

Jack Marsh

Posted 

25th Jan 2022 15:17

As one of the most lucrative deals in esports' history has been struck between ESL, FACEIT, and Savvy Gaming Group, a range of female players and casters have voiced their concerns surrounding the politics of the Saudi-owned company effecting the future of women's esports.

The esports world has been stunned as a $1.5billion merger between ESL and FACEIT has been purchased by the Saudi-backed company Savvy Gaming. ESL, and the accompanying branches such as DreamHack, are one of the oldest and most established Tournament Organisers in esports, often operating in Counter-Strike with year-long tours. Now, alongside minor event organisers FACEIT, they will operate under the Savvy Gaming banner as the company splashed the cash of the Saudi Arabian Government who back them.

Female Casters Express Concern Over Saudi-backed Esports Tournaments

After seeing ESL launch an incredible, yet bizarrely controversial ("I am esports"), women's tour in CS:GO for 2022, the calendar is likely to fall under the Saudi leadership, who will be keen to learn in their debut year before possibly bringing events over to the country. With the potential of a Saudi Major on the cards in 2023, Rainbow Six: Siege and VALORANT caster Geo "Geo" Collins said that she "find it massively concerning that two of the biggest tournament organisers in esports have just been sold to a country whose laws punish LGBT people with death, and keep women as second-class citizens."

She continued to say, "I don’t want to see events move more ME-focused and have friends of mine not able to work them for fear of their lives."

The Saudi Public Investment Fund, which was created by the Saudis to help transition the country’s economy, have previously tried to invest in esports before. The widely criticised League of Legends and NEOM fiasco ended in disaster as Riot Games and BLAST pulled out of a partnership with the government-owned company, ending in Riot establishing an ethics committee.

Geo added, "Don’t get me wrong, I understand that all companies really care about is money. But this reminds me a lot of the LEC NEOM deal. The war of wanting the Middle East’s money but not wanting their social stances may cause a rift in the esports world."

Fellow Rainbow Six: Siege and VALORANT caster Emi "CaptainFluke" Donaldson backed Geo, saying "Would be lying if I said this wasn't hugely concerning to me. As someone who would face, at best, fines for my identity, but extending all the way to the death penalty in the country that now owns a huge esports brand and employer? I hope we get a statement of clarity here."

Donaldson added, "They said they would update the FAQ with worries raised on social media. Protection of LGBTQ+ & women in esports is essential," although neither ESL, FACEIT, or SGG have released any further statements.

Alongside the concerns, it now appears that ESL plan on taking their CS:GO major to Rio De Janiero, according to Dexerto. As a country that also juggles their political stances in less than favoured ways for the LGBTQ+ and female communities, a Saudi-backed tournament in Brazil hardly breathes the same inclusive air that the esports industry has strived to develop.

 

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