An open letter has been making its way around the internet, and it’s contents are not something that it’s uplifting to read. This letter was written by Scott “SirScoots” Smith who elected to represent the 25 different Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) pro players coming from teams such as Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Immortals, Team Liquid, and Counter Logic Gaming. The concerns represented in the letter are concerns of the player’s voice being drowned out by the owners and their choice of what tournament they play in being taken away because of this newly founded Professional Esports Association (PEA).
What the Letter Says
Essentially what the letter says is that 25 CS:GO players from across five different teams are having complications with the PEA, newly founded by Jason Katz. All of the players wanted somebody to represent them and they turned to SirScoots as he is a trusted veteran of the esports community and frequently as taken the sides of player’s rights and wishes.
“A few of us reached out to Scott “SirScoots” Smith, who has been a valuable friend and mentor to many of us over the years. He was happy to help, and was pretty quickly able to confirm that the PEA and EPL hadn’t really talked about working together to make sure there wouldn’t be issues.” -Excerpt From The Open Letter
The letter lays out a few issues that players feel their team owners haven’t been listening to them about. Firstly, the PEA claimed they were going to be the most transparent league to come to fruition, which has not been the case. Most of the players did not even know about the PEA until the night of the announcement. What the players were told originally was that the PEA was going to talk to other organizations to make sure that their schedule didn’t overlap with any other major tournaments out there to keep things inclusive and running smoothly. A lot of the players were told that publicly, privately, and directly.
The players are worried about the voting committee and how things worked as well. It was a simple 7 vote system: 3 belonging to player representatives, 2 belonging to representatives of the team owners, and 2 belonging to PEA representatives (one of which was the founder of the association, Jason Katz). Players immediately pointed out that they would be able to always be outvoted by the owner representatives and the PEA representative. Jason told them it was intentionally designed this way to avoid stalemates.
If this wasn’t concerning enough for the players, around the same weekend of IEM Oakland, they started hearing rumors that they were going to have to pull out of the ESL Pro League and that there were no actual discussion going on to avoid scheduling conflicts contrary to what they’ve were told.
What Does This All Mean
The understanding right now is that the PEA are essentially trying to lock the ESL Pro League out of the region but stopping the teams associated with them from playing in the tournament.
You might be wondering how something like this could happen, but it’s all in the details. Allowing the player’s voice to be overshadowed by their organizations and the PEA lets them come to whatever decision they’d like that benefits them and the PEA instead of what is in the player’s best interests/what they are wanting to do. Even the players had questions about how they could do this. They were explicitly told that “It’s in their contracts” and there wasn’t a lot they could really do about it.
“In a profession where so much of your income depends on your performance and brand exposure, being able to choose where you play is vital”. -Excerpt From The Open Letter
Hearing about any shady business deals is very disheartening when it comes to the world of esports. We still have a lot of room to grow and there is no need to take a step back, especially not one that would involve ignoring the prime talent of the industry.
However, this is one side of a very gray and multi-faceted issue. Owners have stated across various media that they are working on a response letter. The story is still developing.
However, the players sound like they are currently getting the short end of the stick, but something like this could prompt something bigger, such as a player’s union or something of the sort. Esports has gotten big enough that if trust between player and their organization isn’t enough anymore, it’ll be a way to make sure their voice is always relevant in the industry.
Here is the original letting formulated by Scott “SirScoots” Smith and the 25 professional names that have backed it. Along with that, keep in mind the story is still developing and EloTalk will be providing a follow-up article to cover the new information that comes out.