ESL apologizes for how it changed Pro League’s format, CSPPA disagrees with how teams were treated

The tournament organizer and the players' association talked about the ongoing changes to the ESL Pro League.

Screengrab via ESL Counter-Strike

ESL changed the format of its CS:GO league last week. In that series of changes, the number of participants was cut in half. Twenty-four teams that were set to participate in ESL Pro League season 11 were told that they would have to attend the next season of ESEA MDL and qualify for ESL Pro League season 12.

Since then, the affected teams and part of the CS:GO community have been criticizing ESL for its lack of communication because the teams only found out that they were out of the Pro League after the announcement was made. The Counter-Strike Professional Players’ Association (CSPPA) was also criticized for not protecting these teams and players who lost their Pro League spot.

But today, the CSPPA and ESL have released statements about the Pro League’s change of format. ESL’s vice president of product, Ulrich Schulzer, said on behalf of ESL that the tournament organizer didn’t conduct the change of format up to the desired standards.

“We got it wrong by not letting affected teams know further in advance that significant changes were coming, including the number of teams playing,” Schulzer said. “While several important elements that the league’s structure were unknown until last week, the teams were not given enough notice.”

Schulzer said that these affected teams can qualify for ESL Pro League season 12 through ESEA MDL and in a way that “ensures regional representation.”

“ESL Pro League and MDL are core elements of ESL Pro Tour [ESL and DreamHack’s circuit], and it is our clear intent to make sure that MDL remains and grows as a stable environment for teams to compete in below EPL,” Schulzer said.

The CSPPA, on the other hand, stressed that the association exists solely to improve and protect the interests of all CS:GO pros, including all tiers and regions.

“In order to improve the working conditions of players in connection with participation in leagues/tournaments, CSPPA pursues collective agreements with those tournament organizers who consider the pro players an equal negotiation partner,” CSPPA said.

The CSPPA said that it will do everything in its power to push agreements for leagues to be as open as possible to allow players from all regions and tiers to participate in those tournaments. But the CSPPA said that it can’t dictate business decisions and commercial aspects that CS:GO leagues take.

“We are disappointed with the way ESL has handled their communication of the EPL changes,” CSPPA said. “We have been working hard to keep the leagues and tournaments as open as possible, and have been and will continue to do our utmost to ensure that the affected players will have the best possible opportunities to qualify for EPL and other leagues.”

Schulze said that ESL will release more details in the next few days and ESL will continue to provide updates regarding the change of format and the excluded teams. The ESL Pro League season 11 is set to begin in March.