Team YP banned from ESL

Michael Martin

(Photo: Team YP)

ESL has enforced a new rule banning Team YP from participating in future events, reports VentureBeat

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Team YP, an esports organization owned by adult entertainment website YouPorn, has been tossed out thanks to a rule that prohibits sponsors “widely known for pornographic… or other adult/mature themes and products.”

This prevents Team YP players from competing in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II, Evolve, and Mortal Kombat X. It also prevents Team YP from expanding into some of the biggest games in esports like League of Legends or Dota 2.

“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 said in a statement. “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.”

Team YP appealed the decision, even offering to change the “YP” in its name as a solution to allow its players the ability to compete, but ESL refused to back down. Team YP has made a concerted effort to distance itself from its parent company as a way to present itself as “work safe”. The team’s branding and website, for instance, makes no direct references to YouPorn.

(Photo: Team YP)

ESL’s decision will have a sizable effect on Team YP’s Street Fighter V roster, as the ruling prevents Anton “Filipinoman” Herrera and France’s Valentin “Valmaster” Petit from competing in any ESL events if or when it organizes Street Fighter V events.

“It’s sad companies are shutting Team YP out when they’re trying to separate themselves as a brand,” Filipinoman said, adding that the ban takes opportunities to compete away from the players.

“At any time, Team YP could revoke sponsorship from me or any of its teams. It’s sad a team can’t even enter a tournament, even if their tag is not broadcasted.”

Last December, Street Fighter V publisher Capcom refused to allow Filipinoman to wear his Team YP jersey on Capcom Pro Tour streams. This prompted Team YP to make a censored, “blurry” version of its logo as a way to allow its players to wear jerseys on stream and to make a statement about the censorship of Team YP.

(Photo: Michael Martin)

As esports continues to grow, more teams like Team YP may enter the space. ESL likely felt compelled to take a stand in order to protect its own branding, despite how indirect an organization’s connection may be to its parent company or sponsors.

Team YP responded to ESL’s decision on its official Twitter account.

“We are disappointed by @ESL’s decision to ban our esports team, the tweet reads. “We will continue to strive towards professionalism and transparency.”

“Player morale is low,” Fisher said. “In the end, this is mostly impacting the income of gamers who want to be sponsored. Without which, esports wouldn’t be able to operate in the way that it does.” 

ESL has provided Yahoo Esports the following statement regarding the situation with Team YP.

“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.”

Michael Martin covers all things Street Fighter V and FGC. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.

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