CSPPA "disappointed" with ESL over Pro League invite dispute - Dexerto

CSPPA “disappointed” with ESL over Pro League invite dispute

Published: 28/Jan/2020 0:41

by Andrew Amos


The Counter-Strike Professional Players Association (CSPPA) has issued a statement expressing their disappointment over a lack of communication about ESL Pro League changes, stating they “will do everything in their power” to push for more “inclusivity.”

Tournament organizer (TO) ESL has been pushed into the spotlight over the last week after their ESL Pro League team announcement on January 24.

The planned 48-team league was cut down to 24, with teams who had qualified expecting to receive a slot being told they would be relegated back into the second-tier Mountain Dew League.

Players and pundits alike were awaiting a statement from the CSPPA, in response, with the player’s union finally sharing their thoughts on January 27, hours before ESL issued their own apology.

The CSPPA is made up of some of Counter-Strike’s most respected pro players.

In a statement, the CSPPA board, which features Astralis’ Andreas ‘Xyp9x’ Højsleth, mousesports’ Chris ‘chrisJ’ de Jong, and Team Liquid’s Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski, mentioned that ESL’s handling of the situation went directly against the union’s mission.

“CSPPA pursues collective agreements with TOs who consider the pro players an equal negotiation partner and who are willing to negotiate real rights and influence for players with respect to its leagues,” they said.

While they try to bargain for the best possible conditions, the union admitted they don’t wager enough influence to change business decisions from within TOs.

“However, there are business decisions and commercial aspects of such leagues which the CSPPA can’t dictate,” they said. “This included the number of participants in a TO’s league, the composition of teams, the way in which the TO enters teams into its league, and the way in which the TO handles communication in this respect.”

Regardless, the CSPPA, who has registered over 100 player-members since starting up in 2018, expressed their disappointment with ESL’s handling of the shrinking of Pro League.

“We are disappointed with the way ESL has handled their communication of the EPL changes,” they said. “We have been working hard to keep the leagues and tournaments as open as possible, and…will continue to do our utmost to ensure that the affected players will have the best possible opportunities to qualify for EPL and other leagues.

“The CSPPA will do everything in its power — now and in the future — to push for such leagues to be as open and inclusive as possible to allow for CSPPA members from all tiers and regions to participate.”

The union also pledged that they weren’t just bargaining for the players, but also the entire CSGO community, and asked fans to be patient as they build a better future for the game’s professional scene.

“[We] ask the community to trust that we do work tirelessly to improve the working conditions of professional players within the commercial realities of the current CS:GO ecosystem in a fair and balanced manner which will elevate professional CS:GO for all stakeholders involved, including fans.”

The CSPPA statement came just hours before ESL issued their own apology, with Senior Vice President Ulrich Schulze stating the TO “got it wrong by not letting affected teams know further in advance that significant changes were coming.”

The ESL Pro League is one of three franchised CS:GO leagues starting in 2020. FACEIT and BLAST have launched competitors in the B Site League and BLAST Premier respectively, with the latter expected to kick off on January 31 in London.


Adam Fitch: Why Valorant esports will eclipse CSGO commercially

Published: 4/Dec/2020 17:42

by Adam Fitch


There have been debates around the potential impending ‘death’ of Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive since Riot Games’ new shooter Valorant surfaced, even before it officially launched in June 2020. While there are no real signs so far that this will be the case, there may be some value in comparing the games in terms of their competitive activities.

While the two can, and likely, will coexist, there’s an interesting contrast to the games’ esports efforts and how their respective developers are handling such scenes. Besides the fact that both games are five-versus-five shooters with in-game economies, there aren’t many similarities — especially on the esports front.

I believe that the way Valorant has been designed, in both its casual and competitive aspects, means it has a higher ceiling for commercial success. Specifically, I believe Valorant esports has all the makings of a title that will be more fruitful for the organizations that invest in it as well as Riot Games themselves.

Valve are notoriously hands-off when it comes to CS:GO esports, only truly getting involved when Major tournaments come around twice a year or when situations like conflicts of interest and coaching bugs arise. They could shut down the competitive side of their game in a major way with no warning and nobody could do anything about it; this doesn’t produce as much trust as having a developer that’s actively looking to improve and grow their scene.

Operation Broken Fang CS:GO
Valve just launched a new CS:GO Operation, the first in over a year.

While Valorant esports is in its nascent stages, there’s enough evidence to look at now — and a whole other scene in League of Legends to potentially give us a look into the future of the game — so we can finally have this discussion.

Valorant is righting CS:GO’s wrongs

Two of the biggest complaints when it comes to Counter-Strike in esports is the lack of support from developer Valve and the money that’s likely being left on the table through the terrorist theme that’s present. There may be some companies that flock to the game because it’s mature and ‘edgy,’ but that’ll never trump the amount of prospective commercial entities that wouldn’t touch the title with a barge pole.

Whether you think it removes the personality of the game or otherwise, the terrorist themes in Counter-Strike undoubtedly hurt it on a mass scale when it comes to both commercial interest and broadcast viability. Media rights are the biggest revenue stream in many traditional sports but it’s unlikely that this title will ever be able to drink from that well due to its realistic art design and premise, terrorists and counter-terrorists aiming to kill each other, blood, and other elements that are potentially unsettling to people.

Valorant, on the other hand, has been purposefully designed to step around most of those issues. The characters have fantastical powers and designs, the powers themselves aren’t realistic, and there’s no terrorist theme. The shooting aspect of the game could be its only downfall but even that has been toned down dramatically.

There’s a much larger chance of Valorant being shown on television and mainstream digital channels, and this is where media rights deals come into play. We saw League of Legends esports rake in an estimated $113m for Riot Games in August 2020, and that was just for global events such as Worlds and the Mid-Season Invitational to be shown on Bilibili in the Mandarin language. Many more of these deals can be made in LoL and, potentially, Valorant due to their accessibility. CS:GO as it stands would never be able to achieve success on this scale.

Closed vs. open ecosystems

The reputation of League of Legends esports is largely responsible for the influx of investment that Valorant esports received from organizations early on, and it’s running a closed ecosystem. Riot Games have earned a lot of trust from teams, especially those already involved in one of their titles, and that’s for good reason.

Perhaps the most commercially successful esport to date is League of Legends. Housed under the ‘LoL Esports’ banner, it has regional leagues with multi-million dollar buy-ins, no end of sponsor interest, and millions of dedicated viewers.

League of Legends Worlds 2020 Viewership
Yicun Liu/Riot Games
The 2020 World Championship was the most-viewed League of Legends event to date.

With the developer being as involved as they are with Valorant, we’ve every reason to believe that they’ll be looking to replicate the successful model they have deployed in League of Legends over the years. They recently announced the Valorant Champions Tour, in which they’re in complete control, that signals they’re going for a similar but accelerated model for their shooter.

We’re already seeing early signs of LoL’s sponsorship success transferring to Valorant esports. Red Bull and Secretlab are global partners of LoL Esports, Verizon sponsors the North American LCS, and HyperX partnered with European Masters in 2019. They’re all also sponsoring the ongoing Valorant First Strike tournament series.

CS:GO not being under one roof means a prospective sponsor, let’s choose bookmaker Betway as an example, would have to enter three deals to sponsor the entirety of top-tier competition. ESL, Flashpoint, and BLAST all hold competitions including the best teams in the world, and are separate entities. Sponsoring events from all three companies — rather than a single entity — could well be much more costly, require more attention to stay on top of, and it’s unlikely that the three would be happy to have the same activations as they want to stand apart from their peers.

While a closed ecosystem eliminates the chance of underdog stories with teams, it makes more sense commercially in many instances. Not to mention, teams partnered with Riot Games for leagues like the LEC and LPL are incredibly happy with the price they’re paying and the security provided with no chance of being relegated. It not only pleases sponsors but those taking part in the scene too.

nitr0 holding captain america shield
Former CS:GO pro nitr0 is reportedly being paid a $300k salary to compete for 100 Thieves in Valorant.

Valorant esports has its own problems that definitely affect the commercial viability for the organizations looking to get involved, however. Salaries are rumored to be inflated to an insane degree among top teams like Team Liquid and G2 Esports, and having to fork out thousands and thousands each month — beyond what you may be able to recoup — is not healthy. This will need to be addressed unless teams can generate revenues that are not currently present in CS:GO.

Nonetheless, the future looks dazzling for the shooter. It would take either a colossal disaster on Riot Games’ behalf, or a host of great changes on Valve’s end, for Valorant to not be commercially superior to CS:GO in the realm of esports.

It won’t kill CS:GO, but it will be a better investment.