Why marketers should care about the blowback to G2 Esports’ sexism scandal

The esports group G2 Esports has been embroiled in controversy since Saturday, Sept. 17, when its CEO Carlos “ocelote” Santiago posted a video of himself partying with Andrew Tate, an anti-feminist influencer who has drawn web ire over his feedback about psychological well being and the position of ladies in society.

Tate, who has gone viral on TikTok for his viewpoints, is a former kickboxer and Massive Brother contestant.

The widespread fan blowback to the scandal — and G2’s speedy response — might mark a turning level for the {industry}’s strategy to such controversies, as manufacturers crank up scrutiny of their esports-org companions.

G2 has already suffered penalties because of the fracas. On main social media channels, for each three constructive posts about G2, there are roughly two new unfavorable posts in the mean time, in accordance with the sentiment monitoring device Social Searcher.

And studies surfaced yesterday that G2 had been excluded from Valorant franchising, a call made by Riot Video games executives throughout an emergency assembly following the controversy. Given the industry-wide consensus that Valorant goes to be the next major esport, the lack of a franchise spot could possibly be a significant monetary blow to G2, with franchise spots for big esports historically valued at millions of dollars apiece.

Though none of G2’s model companions, which embody distinguished firms akin to BMW and Logitech, have issued public statements in regards to the scenario, it’s clear that the video resulted in important behind-the-scenes conversations. Each G2 and all of its model companions declined to answer Digiday’s requests for remark past pointing to the org’s public apology, however G2 rapidly introduced that Santiago could be taking eight weeks of unpaid leave resulting from his actions.

“The best way that they’ve approached it has been very textbook, very PR-based,” stated Michael Baggs, technique director at social media company The Social Factor. “It was completely inescapable; I believe there’s each probability that the model companions had PR firms and related flag the story as quickly because it broke over the weekend.”

The scandal comes just a few weeks after the launch of G2 Hel, G2’s new all-female League of Legends squad. Feminine esports may also help drive income and safe model partnerships, however initiatives like G2 Hel are solely significant to each followers and model companions in the event that they replicate organizations’ real efforts to help ladies locally. Movies akin to Santiago’s — which the G2 CEO doubled down on hours earlier than posting a PR-inflected apology — can immediately undermine such efforts. 

“Both Carlos is an fool, and he didn’t comprehend that tweeting it the best way he did was going to deliver this on him — or he fully understood what the scenario was, and that was why he tweeted it within the provocative means he did,” stated Rod Breslau, a veteran esports {industry} observer and guide.

The scandal inspired some esports {industry} staff to talk out about their experiences with sexism in and round G2. In a Twitlonger describing her expertise at an Apex Legends occasion, Twitch streamer ConfusingQT claimed that she had overheard G2 group members yelling a sexist chant about “e-girls” that ended with the phrase “once they’re useless and lengthy forgotten, we’ll dig them up and **** them rotten,” although one of many group members denied the accusation in a tweet of his personal.

However to many within the {industry}, the information was unsurprising, proof of a problematic work tradition that had existed at G2 for for much longer. In December 2021, G2 sparked controversy when a report by Dot Esports revealed that its contract with League of Legends participant Luka “Perkz” Perkovic included an unorthodox clause limiting his potential to switch to a selected rival group; Santiago usually positioned his brashly assured character on the middle of the group’s front-facing content material, together with a meme video posted a day earlier than the latest controversy. Way back to 2015, esports analyst Nick “LS” De Cesare tweeted claims that Santiago had referred to as him a “retard” and made fun of his sexual orientation.

One longtime esports {industry} employee — who spoke to Digiday on situation of anonymity as a result of she had been harassed by G2 followers the final time she publicly spoke out towards the org — stated that she was shocked by Santiago’s seemingly callous strategy to the {industry}’s gender points throughout a job interview with the G2 CEO earlier this 12 months.

“He was very a lot actually into the truth that G2 doesn’t do issues for brownie factors — that they’re an leisure firm, they usually entertain, so all of that social justice BS that different groups do for brownie factors will not be them,” she stated. “Reflecting again on my interview with Carlos, it made me uncomfortable.” She ultimately determined to just accept a job supply from a competing group.

As non-endemic manufacturers concerned in esports react to this type of controversy, they’re more likely to enhance their scrutiny of groups that declare to have missions of variety and equality — and the unsavory aspect of esports might trigger extra crisis-averse manufacturers to shrink back from the {industry} as a complete. Whereas many esports orgs are beginning to use the language of social justice for initiatives akin to all-female groups and diversity-themed model activations, the controversy surrounding G2 exhibits that such plans can usually be restricted to the floor degree.

“When a lot of the govt C-level could be very male-dominated, all these phrases about how they need to help ladies are sort of hole,” Breslau stated. “In the event that they actually did, they’d put ladies in positions of energy.”

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