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Despite not formally announcing its competition structure, starting teams, or even an official title, “B Site” is already a household name in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) community. The new league project will reveal all in a press conference next week, but in the meantime, its creative talent has been slowly addressing some of the bigger question marks.
Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, a veteran commentator and analyst in esports, was listed as part of the initial line-up shortly after he signaled his departure from the Overwatch League. Speaking to The Esports Observer, Mykles clarified that he probably would not be casting B Site itself.
“I will do on-camera work as it makes sense, whether that’s driving conversation as a desk host, or doing pre-show or post-show content or interviews,” he said. “I want to supplement in a way that makes sense and is respectful to the scene.”
Mykles’s esports career has included co-owning an esports team organization, Renegades—sold in 2016, and which still competes in CS:GO today. When asked to provide an elevator pitch for B Site to potential team owners, Mikles said that the league’s concept is the only way to make the game sustainable: collaborating with other team owners, co-investing on a project, and cutting out any middlemen who might take profit away from production.
“Therefore, you can provide more resources to the production itself, because you’re not worried about a third-party entity taking revenue,” he said. “Yes, it requires initial investment, but the partnership is something that’s going to be longterm and committed to Counter-Strike.
This is a chance, I think, to be sustainable instead of a guarantee to not make money.”
A report from DBLTAP identified that the owners of North American esports organizations Cloud9, Gen.G Esports, Dignitas, and MAD Lions had agreed to pay a $2M USD entry fee to the league. ESPN later reported that MiBR and CR4ZY had also jumped on board, with the project’s business development to be spearheaded by Cloud9 president Dan Fiden and Immortals Gaming Club and MiBR CEO Ari Segal.
Mykles would not comment on specifics in these reports, though he did say that league meetings had been taking place in Los Angeles, where a number of the team ownership groups are based, and London, where league operator FACEIT is headquartered.
A new CS:GO League. Coming March 2020.
— ECS (@ecs) January 23, 2020
As a consequence of FACEIT’s involvement, the company’s existing Esports Championship Series (ECS) property will be no more. The reporting also indicates that B Site will create a scheduling conflict with the ESL Pro League (EPL). Several teams reportedly in B Site are not listed among the 24 teams competing in the next EPL, which itself is moving towards a partner-team format for its second 2020 season.
Valve, the publisher of CS:GO, largely stays out of league decisions, though its hand was forced last year as rumors of exclusivity rules for teams made headlines. Now, scheduling conflicts such as these are the only way to keep teams playing in your league out of another.
“I think competition is good for the scene,” said Mykles. “I’m happy that ESL, BLAST Pro Series, StarLadder, and other tournament organizers are still able to operate. I wouldn’t want us to not have competition, because that makes you soft and lazy.”
Mykles also hopes having teams investing as partners will alleviate the pressure on players, who are currently at breaking point when it comes to travel schedules and competing hours. “Personally, I appreciate that the Counter-Strike Professional Players’ Association (CSPPA) is working on these issues, and they’ve introduced a break period during the year,” he said.
The CSPPA is an independent collective of pro players that have influenced several competitor decisions in the last year, and recently announced a framework partnership with ESL Tour operators ESL and DreamHack. While Mykles himself has not been part of discussions with the CSPPA, he added that those involved with B Site have been in months-long discussions with the association.
Part of B Site’s pitch to team owners centered on its endemic esports creative team. Duncan “Thorin” Shields, a multi-game esports analyst, publicly revealed he would play a creative director role for the property.
“Having us design content for the league, or any esports product, is critical,” explained Mykles. “It’s a unique opportunity, as a caster, to actually tell the stories you want, and have the budget put and allocated in ways by the producers that are helpful to us making content.”
This emphasis on creative freedom contrasts with Mykles’ tenure on the Overwatch League, which he said felt had become a bare-bones product by the time of his departure. “I don’t think I really learned much from the Overwatch League, honestly,” he laughed, listing his experience working on the league’s “Watchpoint” pre and post-game shows as one of his few major takeaways.
B Site, he said, will go for envelope-pushing broadcast concepts, including a format he claims is unlike anything in esports currently.
Specifics will be revealed next week, though when it comes to sponsors and media partners, shaping the product will take priority in year one, rather than finding agreements that might limit the content and tone. Throughout CS:GO’s history, promoters have tried to tiptoe around the game’s violent and politically charged setting—going as far as to label its opposing terrorist and counter-terrorist forces as “T” and “CT.”
“No one has really pushed an esports product that is with adults in mind as their audience,” said Mykles. He highlights Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as an example of a product that isn’t made for every sponsor, but is good for certain sponsor brands. “The reality is that Counter-Strike is never going to be acceptable to every brand on planet Earth.”
Our goal with this is to find the brands that do resonate with the product, that do want to be a part of something that is marketed to adults.”
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