The ESL is negotiating a deal with Twitch, Vulcun, and top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams to establish a new CS:GO league independent of Valve. What’s particularly interesting (and potentially alarming) about the plan is that according to the Daily Dot, the new league would be exclusive, meaning that teams playing under its auspices would not be allowed to play anywhere else. The ESL, however, says it’s not seeking to prevent teams attending tournaments put on by other organizations.
The plan is being backed by Vulcun, which earlier this week announced that it had raised $12 million in new financing through investors including Sequoia Capital, Universal Music Group, Mark Pincus of Zynga, and other “angel investors.” Sources say the total value of the package offered by ESL and Vulcun runs around $18 million, a “hefty chunk of which” will be paid to teams in exchange for the exclusivity agreement. The deal will also reportedly see exclusive online broadcasting rights granted to Twitch.
The exclusivity angle was challenged by Managing Director of Pro Gaming Ulrich Schuzle, however, who tweeted a link to an ESL post on Reddit shortly after reports of the negotiations came out. “There is only one thing to say about this: ESL is not interested in locking out any tournament organizers from running CS:GO events, nor teams from attending them,” it states.
Either way, as the Daily Dot points out, it seems clear that the ESL would like to distance itself from Valve. The CS:GO tournament at ESL One Cologne announced earlier this year is billed as the largest in the world, with a $250,000 prize pool, but unlike previous tournaments that were “community funded” in conjunction with Valve, this year’s event is being covered entirely by the ESL. The change struck me as odd at the time—why say “no” if somebody else wants to foot the bill?—but now it’s making a little more sense.
An awful lot of questions remain unanswered, including how the new league would handle Valve-imposed bans on players involved in the recent match-fixing scandal. It’s not yet a done deal, and the report says other CS:GO organizations are trying to reach Valve, which is apparently in the midst of its annual employee holiday in Hawaii, in hopes that it will intervene. If they can’t, or if Valve decides to stay hands-off, it will mean some very big changes to the pro CS:GO scene.