CS:GO tournament organizer BLAST and Saudi Arabian project NEOM have mutually agreed to end their partnership just 15 days after the deal was announced, according to a report by HLTV.
The report comes one day after it was reported that CS:GO teams partnered with BLAST called for a meeting to pressure the tournament organizer to end the partnership with NEOM. Although almost all of the organizations stayed silent about the deal, they were allegedly unsatisfied with the deal from the beginning. BLAST reportedly communicated the decision to part ways with NEOM to the organizations yesterday during the meeting.
When the BLAST and NEOM deal was announced on July 28, the tournament organizer described it as a “record deal” and an “ambitious project.” NEOM is a planned mega-city in Saudi Arabia with an estimated cost of $500 billion. BLAST, however, has been heavily criticized by the community and part of its talent crew since the announcement. Frankie Ward, Vince Hill, Harry Russel, Hugo Byron, and former talent and now Team Liquid’s head coach Moses have publicly expressed their concerns with the deal.
The backlash began due to the Saudi Arabia government’s poor human rights record, the abuse of indigenous communities around NEOM, and its anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Frankie, Vince, Harry, and Hugo all said they wouldn’t work with BLAST until the deal was dropped.
If BLAST confirms that the partnership with NEOM has ended, the tournament organizer will be the second esports company to part ways with NEOM this month. 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.