Adult Sponors banned from High Profile Tournaments
As the esports scene continues to grow, we are starting to see all types of sponsors joining, sponsors such as ex-sports players Rick Fox (owner of Echo Fox), YouPorn (a pornographic website), Budlight, and even Utah Jazz Forward Gordon Hayward who told IGN eSports Today's host Kevin Knocke that he plans on buying an esports team.
We always knew we would have some of the most powerful gaming companies backing the scene, but now we have non-endemic brands that have supported events such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, and Major League Baseball involved. It seems as if esports has finally taken the steps it needs to be considered an “official sport,” and with players having such big name sponsors, they will no longer have to worry about attending or competing in tournaments, or do they?
Yesterday, Capcom released their rules for the Capcom Pro Tour. In their full set of official rules, one rule (which was found in Section 9: Code of Conduct) set the fighting gane community into an uproar. Section 9 states:
Capcom will not allow Players to participate in any Tournament if sponsored by adult content sponsors, such as a publisher of pornographic websites, or any other sponsor Capcom deems inappropriate at its sole discretion. Players who are sponsored by alcoholic beverages, cigarettes or vaping (e-cigarette) products will not be precluded from competing in a Tournament.
In 2014, Team YP was created when a Spain-based team, Play2Win, won the sponsorship contract from YouPorn. The organization has had a variety of teams competing under the Team YP brand, including in Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and Street Fighter.
Players such as Valentin "Valmaster" Petit and Anton "Filipinoman" Herrera are now affected by this ruling, both of whom are sponsored by Team YP. People who are not familiar with the website would have never recognized the YP logo or known YP stood for YouPorn - as the company's logo is a basic, the Team YP logo has pink lettering, with a sword and mountains in the background.
Capcom is not the first company to ban the YP esports organization. ESL recently announced their ban on pornographic sponsors by stating a very similar rule. An ESL representative made a public statement:
Advertising pornography is not legal in the markets we operate in, and the vast majority of partners we're working with have strict 'no drugs, no alcohol, no pornography' rules that we've contractually taken on board. These aren't new rules, but ones that have been in our rulebooks for a long time. We spoke to the manager of Team YP earlier this year and in that conversation we explained the situation and rules in detail, and offered to look for potential alternatives in a bigger group. At the same time, we are consulting with our legal teams about this. We will inform the team and the management as soon as we have any updates.
This will not be the first time Capcom has made their feeling towards the organization known. Team YP players were given a warning during the Capcom Pro Tour events, where players would have to wear a different jersey - not having the “Team YP” logo on it, or the logo would just be blurred out, not allowing those who watch the stream to see the logo.
Team YP never promotes porn when their players are attending events and their jerseys are not offensive, so what is it about this organization that has companies like Capcom and ESL not allowing these talented players from participating in their events? These companies feel that the teams are “inappropriate,” but who determines what's inappropriate and what's not? For years we have been defending video games such as Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, and even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for their “sexy scenes”. As Capcom and ESL are heavily rooted in the gaming world, we would think that they would be the ones to understand what players have struggled with for years.
So, with bigger companies coming into play, what will the future hold for pro players sponsored by them? These players have been training and competing for years, spending money, and traveling just to be told halfway through the Capcom Pro Tour that they are no longer allowed to play.
Players have voiced their opinions via Twitter and even started a hashtag #FreeTeamYP hoping they could sway Capcoms decision.
#FreeTeamYP It really doesn't make sense to ban players because of their sponsor. they're not actually doing anything lewd on stream.— Baron. (@BlackaBaron28) May 21, 2016
Please don't ban players from competing when they worked so hard to get this far. #FreeTeamYP— Sherry Nhan (@sherryjenix) May 21, 2016
Players weren't the only ones showing support. Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar”, the man behind the biggest fighting game tournament, Evolution Championship Series - took to Twitter after ESL announced their rules letting the Team YP players know, that they were welcome to play at EVO. Even though it was a great gesture, EVO is a Premier Tournament on the Capcom Pro tour. With the owner of EVO standing behind the YP team, maybe the ban will not be enforced at the event. Only time will tell.
Companies such as ESL and Capcom should think about updating their tournament rules. A sponsor's name should not determine whether a player can participate - these players train for hours just to be penalized for their sponsor's name. What worked three years ago may not work in today's atmosphere. What's the purpose of trying your best and showing sponsors how well you play if big name tournaments won't allow you to step on stage?
These rulings will determine the future of “Adult Sponsorship". If players are not allowed to compete in premier tournaments will sponsors stay and see if the rules will change? Or will they leave and force players to find a sponsor that’s more “esports friendly”?
Capcom has made a statement via Twitter saying that they “will review and update soon.” We can only hope that this will force the company, as well as others, to update their rule set to accommodate and welcome new “Adult” sponsors.
We understand everyone’’s concern around the sponsorship rule in the #CPT2016 ruleset. We will review and have an update soon.— Capcom Fighters (@CapcomFighters) May 21, 2016