Valve to ban closed circuit leagues in Counter-Strike 2

Declan Mclaughlin
João Ferreira/PGL

Valve has put out a statement about creating a “level playing field” for teams at CS2 esports tournaments, and has banned tournament organizers from inviting teams to events.

Esports tournaments for CS2 are about to get a huge shakeup come 2025. Valve has put out a statement about the future of esports competitions and is attempting to create a “level playing field” for all teams in its ecosystem.

To do that, the Counter-Strike developer is banning tournament organizers from having “unique business relationships” with teams that play in their events. The developer also said organizers will have to use Valve’s ranking system to determine team invitations to their tournaments or open qualifiers.

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CS2 esports will be a reset for Counter-Strike esports in more ways than previously thought.

The statement also said tournament operators will have to be transparent about money given to teams, from prize pools to other incentives, to the public at large.

“The ecosystem has become gradually less open, with access to the highest levels of competition increasingly gated by business relationships,” the statement from Valve claims. “We think that Counter-Strike should be an open sport. So we’re going to add new requirements to running large-scale competitive events.”

Valve outlines big changes for TO’s for CS2 competition

These changes come after years of tournament organizers, mainly ESL FACEIT Group and BLAST, creating partnered circuits. Those circuits include open qualifier competitions, but the majority of teams competing in their events are partnered organizations that entered into business agreements with the organizers.

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Partnered teams get the benefit of bypassing the open qualifiers for a stable spot in their leagues or events, which are beneficial for organizations that want some stability in the esport.

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This has caused some bottlenecking recently as organizations not in the partnered system, or unsigned squads looking to make Major tournaments, lack opportunities to face top-tier competition. Without access to top teams, it is difficult for those squads to get high rankings and earn invitations to other events like Major qualifiers.

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The move comes on the heels of reporting from Richard Lewis that Valve was unhappy with tournament organizers and was open to changing the rules around its esports circuit for CS2. Both BLAST and EFG have responded to the news.

The SVP of Game Ecosystems at ESF, Ulrich Schulze, said that more details will come on how they will change their circuit around these rules.

“We will shift our tournament revenue sharing model from selected teams to all teams participating starting in 2025,” he said.

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BLAST’s statement included the same sentiment that they will comply with the changes set to come and will have more details in the future.

“BLAST Premier will remain an integral part of tier 1 CS in this new open ecosystem. We are excited as ever to continue to innovate the esports viewing experience and take out tournaments to all corners of the world,” they claimed.

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About The Author

Based in Indiana, Declan McLaughlin is an esports reporter for Dexerto Esports covering Valorant, LoL and anything else that pops up. Previously an editor and reporter at Upcomer, Declan is often found reading investigative stories or trying to do investigations himself. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University. You can contact him at