ESL announces partnership with US Air Force to end toxicity

The Electronic Sports League has teamed up with the US Air Force for two upcoming events.

Jack Wallace-Hunter
3rd March 2020
In its latest move, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) has partnered with the US Air Force for the Intel Extreme Masters North America 2020 and the ESL Pro League Season 11. 

This partnership will also involve AnyKey, which, as described on their website, is “an advocacy group that supports diversity, inclusion, and equity in competitive gaming.” This move is described by the vice president of brand partnerships, Paul Brewer, as a means “to fight toxicity in gaming and to drive awareness of diversity and inclusion in Esports.”

Some gamers are pointing out the potentially harmful recruitment tactics that are being adopted by the US Air Force.

The issue of toxicity has been a major issue within the pro-gaming industry. In an interview by Jordan Forward with the Rainbow Six Siege esports director, Wei Yue, the latter acknowledges that “toxicity is something that’s in every single game out there – even the most casual game on your phone”. It is statements such as these that have led to the ESL’s move in tackling the issue. 

As well as this, the US Air Force will also operate on-sight content and be a part of the live streams at these events. Timeouts within the ESL Pro League and IEM are also being branded as ‘Air Force Tactical Timeouts’. Maj. Ross McKnight, Chief of Air Force National Events Branch said, “This partnership provides the perfect platform to generate public awareness about the Air Force and the many opportunities we have to serve. The Air Force has a lot in common with gamers, especially the intellectual challenge that both provide.”

However, this decision has come with controversy, as some gamers are pointing out the potentially harmful recruitment tactics that are being adopted by the US Air Force. Esports fans were quick to point out that many audience members are young, suggesting that this latest move may create a biased and skewed perception of the military, hindering recruitment based on careful consideration. Despite this, others are claiming that this is a great initiative to help boost gamers’ career options. 

Featured image: @ESLRainbowSix & @SecAFOfficial (Twitter)

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