Twenty-five Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players competing in the Professional Esports Association’s (PEA) upcoming CS:GO league have signed a letter detailing how both PEA and their team owners are acting against their interests.
The letter, which was released today, includes signatures from the full rosters of Cloud9, TSM, Team Liquid, Immortals, and Counter Logic Gaming. The players express that they are being forced by their teams to compete exclusively in PEA’s upcoming event, which prohibits them from competing at tournaments of their choice and indirectly causes them to earn less income.
PEA was unveiled on Sept. 9, offering a major new $1 million league in the North American region, featuring revenue sharing and co-ownership for the eight founding teams. The association’s official press release also promised that the players would receive an unprecedented level of transparency from PEA, involving them in decisions regarding regulations, tournament format, and distribution of prize money.
The players describe in today’s letter that, despite the lofty promises of transparency, they are in fact being excluded from having any lasting impact on the tournament itself. This includes the idea of making PEA an exclusive league, which the players claim PEA guaranteed wouldn’t happen.
A few weeks after the launch of PEA, the players were asked to elect three representatives for the PEA rules committee. With seven votes in total, three were given to the players and two to the team owners. The final two were given to PEA’s league commissioner Jason Katz. The player representatives quickly noticed that even if they unilaterally voted against a proposal, they were always at risk of becoming a minority vote as Katz could simply put his votes in favor of the owners, the players argue in the letter.
Roughly a month ago, players began hearing rumors that any team competing in PEA’s CS:GO league would not be allowed to compete in the upcoming season of ESL Pro League, one of the biggest leagues on the tournament circuit. Having been established roughly one and a half years ago, and offering a $600,000 prizepool in its last iteration, the league has always attracted the top teams in the world. After been informed that they would not be able to participate in the upcoming season, the players nominated former Evil Geniuses COO Scott “SirScoots” Smith to represent them in their conversations with PEA and the team owners. Smith was able to find out that PEA had not attempted to host any kind of dialogue with ESL.
SirScoots proceeded to write a formal letter to PEA and the team owners, speaking out on behalf of the players on Dec. 7, which prompted PEA and its representatives to approach ESL. None of the alternatives forwarded by PEA did, however, include the teams competing in both leagues.
“As Jason Katz explained to Scott on December 8th, EPL could either accept the proposal, or the PEA would force us to withdraw from EPL and restrict us to playing in only the PEA league,” the players wrote in today’s letter.
Things continued to deteriorate between the parties, and on Dec. 14 Smith sent PEA and team owners another letter explaining that none of the players he represented would be willing to compete in PEA’s league on the premise that it excluded them from ESL Pro League. PEA responded by requesting a telephone meeting the following day. In that span of time, however, PEA had elected to end the negotiations with ESL without consulting the players.
PEA has not given an official response to the players’ letter at the time of publishing. The decision to make these issues public is one of the first examples of players publicly rallying against their own teams for better conditions, and is certainly setting things up for an incredibly interesting 2017 in regards to player rights.