In professional sports, owners and players don’t always agree. And in esports, the same is proving true, as a player group launched a complaint this week and forced the owners to respond.
Players from five professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams sent an open letter this week to the Professional Esports Association, an owner-operated esports league. The players were upset that they were not properly consulted in the PEA’s decision to prohibit players from participating in the competing ESL Pro League (EPL) tournaments for CS:GO, one of the world’s most popular esports games, in the U.S.
Esports is becoming a big market, with an estimated $892 million in revenues in 2016, according to market researcher SuperData Research.
Noah Whinston, the CEO of Immortals and PEA Player Relations Committee member, replied to the open letter today, saying that the PEA was sorry about the poor communication and that it had decided to let the players choose if they’d like to compete in the ESL Pro League or PEA’s league.
“The intention of the PEA League is to create a better league for both American players and organizations,” Whinston said. “It is not an exclusive league. The teams will continue competing in non-PEA operated leagues and tournaments.
“We sympathize with the players’ sentiments around not feeling more included in the decision-making process and we acknowledge that we could and should have done better. That’s why, in good faith, we’re going to give this decision to them.”
The Professional eSports Association (PEA) is an owner-operated league that splits profits between players and owners. The association has announced an inaugural CS:GO league, which will compete with the ESL Pro League.
In its open letter, the PEA warned of oversaturation of tournaments in the Counter-Strike market. The PEA said that it attempted to work on the problem with WESA, the World Esports Association, but the PEA said that the WESA declined. Part of the problem is that the leagues’ schedules may overlap.
The PEA argued that it pays out more than EPL, with higher minimum averages ($81,250 versus $21,428.57) per tournament. That includes prize money and a minimum guaranteed profit share.
The PEA also said that its “organizations unambiguously have the contractual right to decide where their players compete,” but, as noted above, the PEA will leave it to the players to decide in this case.
Earlier this week, PEA-associated teams in North America — Cloud9, compLexity Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Immortals, NRG Esports, Team Liquid and Team SoloMid — were withdrawing from the ESL Pro League.
After that, five of the teams, with a total of 25 players, published their open letter saying they opposed this withdrawal. Using Counter-Strike personality Scott “SirScoots” Smith as their spokesman, they said they had not been informed about the action by their team owners.
The PEA launched in September with seven teams. Former Azubu executive Jason Katz is the commissioner.