ESL has banned Team YP from competing in any ESL hosted event, along with any other team sponsored by a company known for adult content.
The rule bans any sponsors “widely known for pornographic ... or other adult/mature themes and products,” from any ESL organised event, according to an email seen by GamesBeat.
Currently the only team to fall afoul of this rule is Team YP, whose main sponsor is adult entertainment site You Porn. The organisation has a CS:GO team along with a number of fighting game players and a Rainbow Six Siege / Evolve team, all of whom are no longer able to compete in ESL events.
“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,” said Team YP manager Claire Fisher in an interview with GamesBeat. “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.”
The organisation ran into a similar roadblock last year when Capcom banned the Team YP players from wearing jerseys that featured the team’s logo. In response Team YP created alternate versions of their jerseys that blurred out their logo.
ESL have since been in contact and offered the following statement on the matter.
“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.”
“Team YP hasn’t played in any of our professional leagues (ESL One, IEM, Pro League), and this wasn’t a clear cut case from the beginning. The rule has been put in place and enforced since more than a year and a half ago, and there are more examples of situations where Team YP has been either asked to change name or warned they won’t be able to play/qualify for event under the Team YP flag. However, discussions with the teams have been going on for a long time so it is not like we just decided to enforce it now, they just made it public now.”
An earlier version of this story stated that it was a new rule that had been implemented. As the ESL statement points out this is not the case and the post has been updated.