Mentioned in this article
On Wednesday, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive developer Valve released a statement regarding the game’s competitive ecosystem in reaction to several developments in the scene. While no specific incidences were cited by Valve, the comment comes in response to controversies about media rights concerning the StarLadder Major Berlin 2019 as well as rumors about exclusivity in upcoming circuits organized by MTG subsidiaries ESL and DreamHack, as well as RFRSH.
During the first couple of days of the StarLadder Berlin Major, several streamers who restreamed the event via the GOTV version of the coverage found inside the game complained about Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns of their Twitch channels. Streamers complaining included Erik “fl0m” Flom, Michel “mch_AGG” D’Oliveira, and Malek “maleKCSGO” Bennouioua.
While a DMCA strike is threatening to a broadcaster (three DMCA strikes result in the removal of a channel, a financial disaster for any content creator), StarLadder did specify in its rulebook for the tournament that “all broadcasting rights of StarLadder Major 2019 are owned by the StarLadder Limited. This includes, but is not limited to “videostreams (e.g. PoV streams), radio streams, GOTV, replays, demos or TV broadcasts,” and “the tournament organizer has the right to protect its own products created during or after the tournament from rebroadcast or unauthorized usage in post-production.”
In its statement, Valve backed StarLadder’s position stating that, “throughout the year, tournament operators use their events to build relationships with sponsors and media partners. When it’s time for the Majors, we think it’s important that they don’t disrupt those existing relationships. For this reason, the Major tournament operator has always been the only party that has had a license to broadcast the Major.”
It’s important to note, that this does not rule out the possibility for creators to restream the event as Valve expects its Major partners to “be as inclusive as possible. Major tournament operators are expected to work with streamers in order to provide viewers with access to valuable alternative content and underserved languages, whether through official streams or otherwise. Anyone that wants to offer a unique perspective and co-stream the Major should reach out to the Major tournament operator ahead of time in order to ensure a good experience for everyone involved.”
Unlike the guideline for Valve’s second big esports IP, Dota 2, this puts tournament organizers in power to decide who can or cannot broadcast its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive events. For Dota 2 Valve’s guideline is to make streaming of competitive play open to anyone as long as specific rules are being respected primarily regarding the commercialization of streams.
Furthermore, Valve addressed several aspects of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive formats, including conflicts of interest. “We consider a conflict of interest to be any case where a tournament, team, or player has a financial relationship with any other participating team or its players. This includes multi-team ownership, leagues with shared ownership by multiple teams, or essentially any financial reason to prefer that one team win over another.”
While this not a new rule, Valve emphasized that “in order to participate in Majors, we require that players, teams, and tournament operators confirm that they have no existing conflicts of interest, or if they do, disclose them and work to resolve them.”
This effectively rules out Epicenter in its current organizational structure becoming a Major tournament organizer as its parent company ESFORCE Holding also owns the esports organization Virtus.Pro, which fields a team in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Until July, the organizer of the BLAST Pro Series and upcoming BLAST PREMIER format, RFRSH, was affected by this ruling as it owned the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Astralis before selling all esports teams associated with the company.
Another competitive format indirectly touched upon by Valve, are franchised leagues. Based on the shared ownership and financial interest rule, the game developer prohibits this format as franchised leagues usually feature some revenue sharing model as well as league ownership participation by teams. Consequently, this indicates that the rumors about plans for a franchised Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league in North America are likely not going to be realized.
Moreover, this statement might potentially stand in conflict with the United Master League, a developmental Counter-Strike: Global Offensive franchised league run by betting platform Unikrn-owned ChallengeMe, as this league is built around a revenue share program and teams buying into the league. Valve has not shared its plan to enforce the guidelines given in its latest statement and how smaller events will be treated.
In 2020, the two $1M USD prize pool Valve Majors will get further competition. Modern Times Group subsidiaries ESL and DreamHack are creating a joint competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive circuit, the ESL Pro Tour, which will award a combined prize pool of over $5M. RFRSH Entertainment will organize the BLAST Premier Counter-Strike: Global Offensive series featuring a prize pool of $4.25M.
Both tournaments have been subject to rumors regarding exclusivity, although no such intentions were confirmed by any party involved. Responding to a Dexerto report claiming exclusivity rules applying to the ESL Pro League within the ESL Pro Tour, Michal Blicharz, vice president of pro gaming for ESL said “What was quoted is definitely 100% not a rulebook for the ESL Pro Tour, and not even a rulebook for the Pro League. It’s an entirely different document that is not forcing restrictions on any teams that don’t choose to abide by those restrictions. None of what was quoted will apply globally to all teams that wish to participate.”
Valve made clear that “at this time we are not interested in providing licenses for events that restrict participating teams from attending other events” to avoid dependence of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ecosystem from a single organizer in case of a format failure — hence clarifying that neither the ESL Pro Tour nor the BLAST Premier series will feature team exclusivity.
In addition, Valve announced that in-game tournament items such as stickers and souvenir cases for the StarLadder Major Berlin 2019 will pay out over $11M to the teams and players that participated. Last time Valve published that number it was $4.2M generated by sticker sales for DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca in 2015.
Credit: Source link