CS:GO tournament organizer BLAST has officially parted ways with Saudi Arabian project NEOM two weeks after the deal was announced, BLAST told Danish newspaper B.T. today. This confirmation comes after HLTV reported yesterday that BLAST and NEOM mutually agreed to terminate the partnership.
“We can confirm that we have reached a joint, professional and respectful agreement with NEOM to terminate our contract,” Iain Twine, BLAST’s non-executive director told B.T. “BLAST remains focused on increasing access and involvement in esports, and we will continue to seek to expand our global footprint, including in the Middle East.” The tournament organizer has hosted two LAN events in the region—BLAST Pro Series Istambul in September 2018 and BLAST Pro Series Global Final in Bahrain in December 2019.
Although BLAST made a statement to B.T., the tournament organizer hasn’t written an official post on its website. The last published article is from July 28 when BLAST announced the partnership with Saudi Arabian futuristic city NEOM and described it as “record deal.”
BLAST has been heavily criticized by the esports community and part of its talent crew since the announcement. Frankie Ward, Vince Hill, Harry Russel, Hugo Byron, and former talent and new Team Liquid’s head coach Moses publicly expressed their concerns with the deal. BLAST’s partnered teams reportedly meet with the tournament organizer earlier this week to try to pressure them into canceling the deal.
This scrutinity was due to the reported abuse of indigenous communities around NEOM, Saudi Arabia government’s poor human rights record, and its anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Frankie, Vince, Harry, and Hugo all said they wouldn’t work with BLAST until the deal was dropped.
BLAST is now the second esports company to end a partnership with NEOM in the span of two weeks. On July 29, the LEC formed a partnership with NEOM but canceled the deal less than 24 hours after the announcement after several broadcast talent members and other people on Riot’s staff boycotted the project.