The high-profile “Creator League” esports series,  announced by ubiquitous YouTube presence Mr. Beast, has collapsed only a few days after its launch due to confusion and anger about its use of blockchain technology and accusations that the whole thing was in fact an NFT launch.

Aside from the web3 issues, “Creator League” was messily presented from the start. It was formally revealed by Mr. Beast, one of the biggest names on YouTube, but he’s not actually involved with the project. Several of the influencers who are (or were) taking part are not meaningfully involved in gaming: Bella Poarch, for instance, is a singer and social media celebrity, CDawgVA is a voice actor, podcaster, and variety streamer, and VinnieHacker is a Tiktok star. While they may occasionally live stream gaming content they are by far prominent members of the community. 

Meanwhile eFuse said “Collectively, these creators boast a combined audience of over 226 million followers and have a long history of mobilizing communities […] All creators will actively manage their teams and feature competitions on their live channels.” That may be so, but as of right now the announcement video sits at 16k views on YouTube.

At the same time, eFuse also promised that fans who purchased a $20 “community pass” for their Creator League influencer of choice would have an active hand in team management and might even land a spot on a team: Fans who paid for the pass would have the opportunity to vote on team rosters and strategies, and “compete for a chance at cash prizes.”

Not long after the Creator League was announced, it came to light that the passes employ blockchain technology—the same tech that underpins NFTs. There was no mention of blockchain technology in the Creator League announcement, or in any of the materials shared with press ahead of the announcement. There’s also no indication of blockchains or NFT on the Creator League website, although the name of the site——is certainly a choice: NFTs are purchased by a process known as “minting.”

“So I’ll just be real with you guys, I accepted to join the Creator League not fully understanding the tech behind it,” CDawgVA tweeted. “Needless to say, with the current information available I’m planning on withdrawing. I was not told or made aware at any point that there was Blockchain technology and was only made aware of that information when the event went live.

“I was given assurances that it had nothing to do with NFT’s. Given my vocal hatred of such tech, I would never agree to join had I known that. It’s an embarrassing fuck up on my part to agree to promote this to my audience. I’m sorry.”

Similarly, OTK co-founder Tips Out tweeted “aware of the crypto thing […] We were told there was no NFT/crypto component but looks like that may not be the case. Waiting for responses to our emails/phone calls like others.”

In a statement released on September 5, just three days after the Creator League was announced, organizer eFuse acknowledged that blockchain technology was being used “to validate data and log information relating to the community passes,” but said that no cryptocurrencies were being used—all pass purchases are made in US dollars—and that the passes themselves are not NFTs because they do have not “transfer utility,” which means that they cannot be resold.

But by now, the damage was done. eFuse also announced that the launch of Creator League had been postponed, and offered refunds to any pass purchaser who are “uncomfortable” with blockchain technology. The entire organization is also undergoing a “restructuring” which has reportedly resulted in the layoffs of about 30 people.

At this point, the long-term status of the Creator League is unclear. Confusingly, sales of the Creator League pass continued for a full day after the launch of the league was postponed, although they’ve now been suspended. Most of the influencers involved haven’t commented on the situation publicly; materials promoting the Creator League on social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube, and Discord remain live. The league also said on Discord that anyone with a community pass who doesn’t opt for a refund “will be welcomed once the season commences,” although there’s no sign as to when that might happen.

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