Moist Esports, the winners of the recent Rocket League London Major, have chosen not to play at the upcoming Gamers Without Borders GWB Rocket League tournament in Saudi Arabia.
This Gamers8 event will take place in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, from July 14th to 17th 2022 and feature 24 teams battling for a $2m prize pool.
Moist’s UK coach Noah Hinder published a tweet saying he will not associate with a country that doesn’t recognise LGBTQ+ people as human beings, and that it’s important to focus on ‘morals over money’.
Moist’s players backed Noah up, with fellow UK talent Finlay ‘rise’ Ferguson saying that although he wanted to play at the event, “seeing how much this meant to Noah changed my mind” and that the team will instead focus on the world championship in the US this August.
UK player Joyo added: “If someone on our roster is uncomfortable going to an event, it would be unfair to still go. Sorry to everyone who expected to see us in Riyadh, you’ll see us at worlds.”
Noah later clarified:
Other teams taking part in the Rocket League GWB tournament in Riyadh include UK orgs Endpoint, Guild and SMPR, as well as others from around the world: G2, FaZe, Gaimin Gladiators, Furia, Renegades, Orlando Pirates, Dignitas, Spacestation, Complexity, AllMid, Rogue, Heet, Luminosity, Falcons, F16, 01 and Owl. Another four are to be confirmed according to the Gamers8 Liquipedia page.
The Rocket League LAN is part of a wider 2022 Gamers Without Borders circuit also featuring Dota 2 and Fortnite, with $10m in charity prizing up for grabs and $15m in the summer finals available to teams across all games, according to this press release on the GWB website.
Saudi’s increasing involvement in esports has made headlines over the past year.
Savvy Gaming Group (SGG), which is 100% owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – its government’s Public Investment Fund – acquired ESL and Faceit earlier this year. And Saudi also has links with the Global Esports Federation, with Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud of the Saudi Esports Federation VP at the federation.
Some have accused Saudi Arabia of ‘esportswashing’ – using esports and charity initiatives to generate positive PR and detract from their human rights record.
In a similar story from earlier this year, Ubisoft relocated its August 2022 Rainbow Six Major away from the UAE after community questioned the location and what it could have meant for LGBTQ+ talent.
Dom is an award-winning writer and finalist of the Esports Journalist of the Year 2023 award. He graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Federation up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and offer esports consultancy and freelance services. Note: Dom still produces the British Esports newsletter on a freelance basis, so our coverage of British Esports is always kept simple – usually just covering the occasional press release – because of this conflict of interest.