German television channel ProSieben MAXX will no longer air ELEAGUE broadcasts, and has removed all reference to it from their website, apparently in reaction to the Munich shootings last week.
According to a statement on Facebook by German caster Matthias "Knochen" Remmert, who has casted ELEAGUE for ProSieben, the channel will no longer air ELEAGUE on television or webstream "due to events in recent days."
Like TBS in the United States, ProSieben MAXX offered a television broadcast of the Turner-produced CS:GO league, but with German commentary. The ProSieben webpage for ELEAGUE has been removed from their site, along with all promotional ELEAGUE content. ProSieben has not yet issued a public statement.
Earlier this week, multiple media outlets reported that 18-year-old Ali David Sonboly, who killed nine people in a mass shooting in Munich on July 22, often played violent first-person shooters, including Counter-Strike: Source. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière made comments at a press conference that partially blamed violent video games for the attack. The event reignited the debate over violence in video games in German media and on Twitter, under the hashtag #Killerspiele ("killer game").
CS:GO has had a difficult time breaking into mainstream media in Germany because of stringent government policies on violence in media. As a game that uses imagery related to terrorism, Counter-Strike in particular has developed a stigma among professional organizations in the country; earlier this year, for example, German football association FC Schalke 04 said that CS:GO was "not a fit" for their organization, and made it clear that it would never sponsor a CS:GO squad.
At a press conference held by ELEAGUE on Wednesday, Richard Lewis responded to questions about ProSieben's decision by criticizing Germany's stance on violent video games, though he urged fans to show sensitivity in the wake of the attacks.
"In Germany they have some of the most stringent censorship laws when it comes to video games in the world," Lewis said. "This is the place, for example, that bans Mortal Kombat and removes blood from games, there’s numerous examples of this historically.
"But what I wouldn’t want to get bogged down with is any sort of grandstanding. This is a tragedy. When an event like this happens it’s always a tragic, because people have to be sensitive towards the victims and the people that are hurting right now."
Knochen said German esports website 99damage has secured broadcast rights to ELEAGUE's semifinals and Grand Finals this week. mousesports, a mostly German squad, are set to play against Virtus.pro on Thursday.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.