Many have spoken out against the partnership.

The Esports Awards are coming under fire for their decision to partner with the Esports World Cup. The deal, which lasts an initial three years, will see the awards ceremony held at the Esports World Cup in Riyadh.

This announcement, that came as a surprise to those involved with the awards, has taken a raft of criticism. Several panel members, including past host Goldenboy have taken to social media to announce they will not be involved with the awards moving forward.

Esports Awards and Esports World Cup partnership comes under fire

Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez is a huge name in the Esports scene. He has hosted a raft of different games, including VALORANT and Call of Duty. He has hosted the Esports Awards for the last few years, and has become an intergral part of the yearly ceremony.

Speaking on X, formerly known as Twitter, Goldenboy publicly announced he would not work with the Esports Awards moving forward after this announcement.

Perhaps the most notable section of his statement is: "These events, which are wholly funded by the Saudi Arabian government, do not align with my personal and professional values, so I'm fine with not lending my time and energy to them."

Why are people so angry at the Esports World Cup and Esports Awards partnership?

The Esports World Cup has had a very mixed reception in the wider esports community. While many are rightly happy to see a prestigious event and substantial prize pool in their favourite game(s) circuits, others are raising concerns about "sportswashing."

Sportswashing, defined as 'the use of sport to redirect public attention away from unethical conduct' is an accusation that has been levelled at the Esports World Cup repeatedly. However, the events organizers have pushed back on this accusation. CNN report that the organisers claim the event will not be funded by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment fund. Instead, funding is coming from host nation funding and sponsorship deals.

The Esports World Cup will be held in Riyadh over the summer
The Esports World Cup will be held in Riyadh over the summer

LGBTQ+ people are criminalised in Saudi Arabia. Sexual activity between members of the same sex is illegal, and punishable by death. This stance is one of the key reasons behind peoples opposition to the Esports World Cup being held in Saudi Arabia. Women also do not have the same rights in Saudi Arabia as they do in a lot of the western world.

Peter Mackay, who has been on the Esports Awards committee for four years was one of those to specifically mention values in his statement.

"I am extremely proud that the Siege scene pushes for a welcoming, tolerant, and inclusive place for all. These are our values and I'll always fight for them"

Several major names step back from Esports Awards

Alongside Peter Mackay and Goldenboy is a whole raft of other people, previously involved, who say they won't be going forwards after todays announcement.

As well as those previously involved in the awards, they have also taken criticism from other notable personalities. Chief among them is Ludwig.

Past Esports Award Journalist of the year winner Jacob Wolf also added his criticism. He took aim at the growing Saudi Arabian presence in the wider industry.

What happens now?

It is not clear what will happen next to the Esports Awards and Esports World Cup partnership. Criticism of the Saudi Arabian presence in esports is not new. Despite a lot of uproar, organisations and players will compete this summer at the event en-mass.

It is likely that for every person who is not prepared to take part in the Esports Awards, several would happily take their place. The wider struggles of the esports industry make it hard for people to reject money. It is equally difficult for companies and event organisers to reject investment.

The criticism of this event and the Saudi Arabian government will not go away. However, with so much financial power to wield in an industry desperately needing investment, neither will the Esports World Cup and their investment.

The Esports Awards have not yet addressed the mass exodus of people involved in the event. Stay tuned to for updates as we get them.