Prominent CS:GO caster Jason "Moses" O'Toole offered sharp criticism for BLAST's partnership with NEOM in an email sent to the company's management.
The email, obtained by DBLTAP, criticizes BLAST for the deal and its silence to the public -- and CS:GO casters and talent -- regarding the deal. You can read the full email below:
To Whom it May Concern, BLAST Premier / RFRSH management,
Two weeks ago you announced a new partnership with NEOM. Since that time I, along with some of my colleagues, have been reaching out to you to get information so that we could understand the reasoning and extent of this deal. We chose to do this out of respect for the working relationship we have had with BLAST for the past four years.
Yet you have not returned that respect in any way. Since I first reached out on July 30th, calls and meetings have been scheduled and then delayed, dodged, rescheduled, and cancelled. The only response we have been given is that the situation is complex and you need more time to give us any details. I cannot properly express how frustrating and disappointing this has been for many of us.
Most of us stood by your side after the debacle of cancelling a day of your first ever event, and we did what we could to publicly soothe the community and show that you guys were on the right track. We have been there through multiple tough stretches that BLAST has had to endure. To not have that respect and loyalty returned here in any way should fill all of you with shame.
Your silence on this matter is deafening, and now it is harming those who have worked closest with you over the past few years. Your refusal to speak up in defense of your own deal has placed your employees in the crossfire. Your weakness in this regard has allowed the freelancers you work with to be hung out to dry under public scrutiny.
You are allowing others to take the heat for a deal that most of us know nothing about, do not agree with, and flat out despise.
What makes this all the more frustrating is that I truly believe that this is not the kind of people that work at BLAST. This is not the quality of people I have worked side by side with for four years. Those people would not sit back in silence to avoid the blowback and consequences.
If you can’t even speak in support of the partner you have chosen to work with, maybe this is not a partnership worth having.
And if you can’t find the courage to speak for the men and women who have worked alongside you for years to bring your product to life, then maybe this truly isn't the same BLAST I have enjoyed working with.
Moses is not the only member of talent that has been highly critical of the partnership. Duncan "Thorin" Shields, Vince Hill, Dust Mouret, Frankie Ward, Harry Russell, and Hugo Byron have publicly expressed their unwillingness to work with the tournament organizer should the deal remain in effect. Their statements cited the Saudi Arabian government’s poor handling of human rights, abuse of indigenous groups in relation to NEOM, and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. The backlash BLAST has received comes after a similar frustration was voiced about the LEC's announcement of a partnership with NEOM. The partnership was cancelled less than a day later amid the outcry from the League of Legends community.
Esports is at the centre of NEOM’s exciting plans for Sport, we’re delighted to be able to assist them in shaping this long-term goal," BLAST CEO Robbie Douek said when the partnership was announced. "This is a record deal for BLAST and testament to our recent growth and standing in the industry right now.
“We have a strong track record when it comes to producing global events that encompass a leading broadcast product and inspires lovers of esports, we hope to leverage this knowledge and expertise to help build a first-in-class partnership that will allow NEOM to create a thriving esports ecosystem.”
NEOM is a gigantic cross-border city development project currently in the works in Saudi Arabia. It is being developed by the Saudi family’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by the government and royal family of the country. There have been multiple accusations from the United Nations against the Saudi Arabian government for committing human rights violations during the development of the city.
DBLTAP has reached out to BLAST for comment.