Popular porn destination YouPorn has an eSports team. Team YP, as they’re known, appeared in a burst of promotional confetti, then promptly disappeared for months. Later, however, they returned with new teams focused on new games. Now that, too, is in jeopardy.
The ESL recently dropped the hammer on Team YP and its many heads, which focus on games like Mortal Kombat X, Street Fighter V, Counter-Strike, and StarCraft II. Despite the fact that the team does not directly mention or otherwise peddle lewd imagery of people doinking, having a roll in the hay, or Doing The Deed (a sex position that involves signing the deed to a new home to solidify a couple’s commitment to each another and then having sex with the deed), ESL decided they go too far. Team YP even offered to change their name, but ESL isn’t budging.
“Advertising pornography is not legal in the markets we operate in,” ESL explained to VentureBeat, “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’s manager has since expressed her disappointment, pointing out that this type of policy creates fewer sponsorship opportunities for players. “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,” she said.
Given that there’s potential illegality involved, it’s a messy situation. Even if the ESL wanted to support Team YP, they might not be able to. eSports fans, however, have been mostly supportive of Team YP, pointing out that sites like G2A, a Steam key re-seller with a less-than-sparkling reputation, continue to sponsor ESL teams and events. Sketchy gambling sites also have fingers in the pie. The legality of that, especially as it pertains to minors, is debatable, but it’s largely unregulated at this point.
Team YP hasn’t given up yet, but they’ve got a long road ahead of them. Despite the fact that basically everybody uses it, porn is still frowned upon in large portions of society. Also, while Team YP’s made an effort to keep salacious images of people without underwear or cuff links away from their brand, all it takes is a single Google search of their name to uncover the connection. Oh, and their logo is a sword between two mountains. Not exactly subtle!