Gaming's most well-endowed eSports league has banned a team for being sponsored by YouPorn – but is the ESL simply protecting its image, or is it a poor attempt at deleting its browsing history?
Team YP, who have been sponsored by the adult website since December 2014, were informed of the ruling via email directly from ESL officials. The ban is due to a new rule that prohibits sponsors “widely known for adult/mature themes and products.” This is despite the team's best efforts to keep their image safe-for-work, ensuring their social media outlets avoid any use of the YouPorn branding. Players even offered to change their name altogether in a bid to stay in the league, but to no avail.
The acronym alone has been enough to cause controversy - in December, Capcom refused to let the team compete in their Street Fighter tournament unless they changed their typical attire, leading to players humorously sporting pixilated logos. But the ban means members' income is under threat, having a huge impact on their ability to compete professionally. It hardly seems fair to punish the players for their sponsor's notoriety.
And here is where the hypocrisy lies. To say that sponsors promoting 'adult themes' are banned from a league where gamers can decapitate, impale, and blow up their enemies, all whilst female fighters somehow survive a battle in nothing more than a bikini, is pure farce. And this couldn't be more true for Team YP's own gaming repertoire; Evolve, Counter-Strike, and Starcraft II to name a few. And why is it that Team Bud-light are still able to play? Surely the titular alcoholic beverage should also be classed under a mature rating.
Considering the ESL gets 30% of its revenue from sponsorships, and porn is estimated as a $97 billion industry, it may be wise for the league to pick up the tissues and go for the money shot.