For a while now, YouPorn, a company that specialises in delivering visual masturbatory aid has been engaged in stroking something else; eSports stars’ egos. As we’ve told you before, YouPorn sponsors a number of eSports teams across a number of gaming disciplines. And they’ve done it in a way that I think is tasteful, not pushing the company’s main business.
Team YP, as they’re called, may be sponsored by an adult site, but beyond their logo’s colour scheme and their abbreviated name there’s little to demonstrate that. Despite that, they’re being pushed out of the game by one of the premier eSports organisers.
The ESL has now – two years later – instituted rules that prohibit sponsors “widely known for pornographic … or other adult/mature themes and products.” What this effectively means is that Team YP (which by all accounts has actually been performing quite well) is barred from ESL tournaments.
As you’d imagine, the people invested in this, the players themselves, are rather upset, and have appealed the new rules.
“I am disappointed that Team YP’s growth is being stunted by this decision, not to mention the effect that this will have on our roster of players,” Team YP manager Claire Fisher told VentureBeat. “While for some, our participation in esports has been controversial, stopping our players from competing because they are sponsored by us, in spite of Team YP operating as a completely SFW [safe for work] brand, clearly separated from any adult content, seems unfair to say the least.”
“We feel like this rule has been implemented in direct connection to our sponsor’s efforts,” Team YP’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Evolve captain Eril “YP_Nightwane” Djoehana said.“ It was only created after we started entering ESL cups and started getting noticed.”
What makes the decision for the enforcement so baffling is that Team YP and its sponsors have done all they can to ensure that “Team YP” is its own brand. Searching for “Team YP” on google brings up no links to pornography, and there’s nothing in the branding to suggest the adult-oriented nature of its sponsor.
“What is even more upsetting for my team in particular is that we were worried about these kinds of problems,” said Nightwane. “We decided to be proactive, and we asked both [Evolve publisher] 2K and ESL how they felt about our sponsorship, and they were both very happy to accept Team YP as a participant. This leaves us confused on why this ruling has been made. We would love to continue competing with other teams within the ESL while being sponsored. We have always strived not to cause any troubles, and we want to follow the rules properly.”
It’s an odd decision, though one I suppose I understand. I don’t believe this has anything to do with some sort of prudish moral crusade on the ESL’s part, and instead is being enforced to add, in some small way, a touch more legitimacy to eSports.
Of course, there’s an odd double standard here, because other “social ills” like gambling, alcohol and the likes of G2A and Kinguin are some of the biggest sponsors not just of eSport, but sport in general.
YouPorn has issued a statement regarding their ban:
“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 have spoken to Team YP manager earlier this year and in that conversation we’ve explained the situation and rules in detail, and offered to look for potential alternatives in a bigger group. At the same time, we’re consulting with our legal teams about this. We will inform the team and the management as soon as we have any updates.”
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Last Updated: April 25, 2016