Team YP gets banned by ESL due to association with YouPorn

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It looks like Team YP a.k.a. Team YouPorn’s really finding it tough to penetrate the eSports biz.

Back in 2014, Spanish eSports team Play2Win garnered cheers when it shed its mantle to take up the name Team YP, being YouPorn’s pro DoTA2 team. The dream is to compete in games that Play2Win’s into before i.e. DoTA2, League of Legends and Hearthstone, and later on meddle with games like Counter-Strike, and SMITE. However, the cheers faded into a rocky start as the formation didn’t really hold ground in the gaming scene, settling into streaming and merch selling primarily.

Think they got it hard already? Nope. The Electronic Sports League or ESL just banned Team YP. ESL explains:

“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). 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 [its] name or warned they won’t be able to play/qualify for an 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.”

Team YP censorship jersey“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,” says Team YP manager Claire Fisher, expressing the management’s disappointment over ESL’s decision. “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.”

Despite the porn association, the team opted for the name Team YP instead of Team YouPorn. Dropping the term “porn” from their label and merchandise, Team YP so far has avoided any mention or depiction of lewd acts and imagery. Also, the team has put in extra efforts so that googling for Team YP info would redirect to a SFW blog instead of the adult site. Even when Capcom decided they don’t want to see the logo displayed and the jersey being worn in their tournaments, Team YP came up with a rather witty jersey design. In 2015, Ultra Street Fighter IV pro Valentin “Valmaster” Petit donned the “censored” jersey for the Capcom Cup Finals at the PlayStation Experience in San Francisco.

 In an appeal to ESL, Team YP offered to rebrand:

If the division had to go through a rebranding and remove the YP for something else, if the sponsor is still technically ‘YouPorn’ but the YP is not actively present in the branding, would you be allowed to let my teams play? If the two letters are removed, our sponsorship will be implied due to the fact that we are somewhat well established as a sponsor at that point, but ESL would not be placed in a difficult position since you wouldn’t be promoting YouPorn directly at all since that would be removed.

But still, no dice as ESL points out the rule prohibiting any team to to be backed by adult sites. Currently, YouPorn’s the only adult site sponsoring a team at ESL events. The decision has been met by frustration, seeming as if ESL’s stiff rule is dictating which groups can do business with competing players all for the sake of protecting its image. Fans supportive of Team YP cry foul especially since participants are still hugely and almost exclusively paid by sponsors and not by leagues or tournament winnings, even if the gaming industry’s growing more profitable and seeing more mainstream recognition.

Together with the management, team members are echoing out their concerns. “Our experience with Team YP has been nothing but positive thus far,” says Team YP’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Evolve captain Eril “YP_Nightwane” Djoehana. “We are well-treated by Team YP, and we are never pushed to promote or be linked to any mature content. Moreover, none of their content is harmful to anyone. I do not think there is any cause for this harsh punishment for a sponsor and team, especially since they are only trying to support the scene and its players.”

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