ESL Pro League’s reported exclusivity deal could harm the CS:GO ecosystem

It can be the first step toward a closed circuit in the future.

Screengrab via ESL Counter-Strike

ESL and DreamHack revealed plans to launch a $5 million CS:GO open circuit in 2020 yesterday.

ESL didn’t give further details, though. At the moment, it’s unclear if there will be a significant boost in the prize money since $5 million is basically the amount of all the DreamHack, ESL, and IEM tournaments combined.

The circuit could potentially be harmful if the ESL Pro League, part of the ESL Pro Tour, forbids teams from playing in other leagues, which was reported yesterday. This could be a threat to teams that also play in the ECS, a league organized by FACEIT. Two teams that hold spots in the ESL Pro League reportedly haven’t agreed to join the circuit.

Astralis CEO Nikolaj Nyholm said that his team won’t participate in any leagues without the players’ direct representation. Dot Esports reached out to the Counter-Strike Players’ Association (CSPPA) for comment yesterday but was told that the association will make a public statement.

One of the best aspects of Counter-Strike over the past few years has been the number of different tournament organizers that host minor and major events. Teams that came from weaker regions without a proper competitive scene, like Brazil and Australia in the past, became well-known because of regional qualifiers and LAN tournaments.

And that’s why the CS:GO Major is still great, although other tournaments have started to catch up to it in terms of the prize pool. The Major gives teams from every region a chance to succeed.

If a league closes an exclusivity deal with the biggest CS:GO teams, it could be the first step toward a closed circuit like League of Legends already has. And this could cause minor countries to struggle to produce good results at the few international LANs they get to participate in.

ESL will announce more details on Sept. 28 during a media briefing at ESL One New York.