ESL allegedly offering CS:GO teams a controversial ESL Pro League agreement
According to recent reports, CS:GO teams participating in the ESL Pro League will not be allowed to decline more than two invites to ESL events without forfeiting their revenue share, which is just one of many controversial terms found in ESL’s new agreement with teams.
Earlier this month, numerous ESL Pro League CS:GO teams were presented with a new ESL Pro League Agreement, which was initially said to go into effect at the start of the year and includes some controversial clauses which dictate when teams can and cannot play in other CS:GO tournaments.
The so-called Lanxess Agreement, which was offered to CS:GO teams can be seen as highly controversial, as it's basically an attempt by ESL to try and lock down teams for a four-year deal with the ESL Pro League, which would ultimately restrict the length of events or leagues in which the said teams would be allowed to participate in.
Multiple sources indicated that with the agreement, ESL will restrict teams from playing in leagues which last for longer than 14 days.
A part of the agreement reads:
"…all member teams of Pro League shall not play in other Counter-Strike leagues, this means non Valve sponsored competitions where the first day of competition (excluding qualifiers) and the grand final day are more than fourteen (14) days apart, besides Pro League"
The terms will also limit the number of days the teams can play in a tournament per calendar year to a total of 60, not counting travel, media or break days, Minors, Majors or ESL Pro League.
"All member teams of Pro League shall limit their tournament participation days, meaning the active competition days of a tournament they participate in regardless of if they play on that day or not, to not more than 60 days per calendar year (not including travel, media days, or break days). This number excludes official Valve competitions such as Minors and Majors, online qualifiers, and also excludes Pro League competition days."
In addition to the said limitations, ESL is also said to enforce a new rule, which would allow teams to decline no more than two invitations to ESL tournaments. The rule states that a CS:GO team, which declines two invites or fails to participate in at least two ESL events in a calendar year will have to forfeit all the revenue share. Should the team give up their share of the revenue, however, it would be split among all other eligible teams.
The meeting between ESL and 13 CS:GO organizations, where they will discuss the new agreement, is set to take place between January 22-24, where ESL will try to convince the teams to join ESL Pro League instead of a newly announced CS:GO league, assembled by B Site Inc. That, however, might be easier said than done, considering B Site's league, offers much more direct revenue sharing.
As reported, B Site's league will offer the players a base revenue share of $1.04 million, with the opportunity to see the number increase over time. Players in ESL Pro League, on the other side, are said to receive a relatively small portion of the revenue share, after WESA and ESL take their own cut, making B Site's league far more appealing to the teams and players.
While there were no official confirmations as of today, both MIBR and Cloud9 are rumoured to have already signed a deal with B Site Inc. North American league, considering neither of the two are on the ESL's team list. It's worth noting that if the two teams have indeed signed a deal with B Side, that would not necessarily prevent them from participating in ESL. That said, with the increase in the number of CS:GO tournaments for 2020, the busy schedule could indirectly affect the team's decision to play in both leagues.
The ESL's terms in their new agreement are not only controversial for many reasons but also come off as highly contradictory to Valve's values, which they addressed in September with a blog post "Keeping Things Competitive", which read:
“Team exclusivity is an experiment that could cause long-term damage. In addition to preventing other operators from competing, exclusivity prevents other events from keeping the CSGO ecosystem functioning if an individual event fails."
"At this time we are not interested in providing licenses for events that restrict participating teams from attending other events.”
Whether ESL's terms are really in violation of what Valve stands by is up to debate and at this point very uncertain, however, ESL Senior Vice President of Product, Ulrich Schulze stated that everything ESL does in CS:GO is discussed with Valve, which includes respecting their positions and guidelines, which means one of two things – either Valve decided to step away from their values, or the ESL's terms are not as harmful to the CS:GO ecosystem as it may seem.
More details about the issue should become available later next week, once the meeting between ESL and 13 CS:GO teams comes to a close.