ESL rivals voice concern over 'superleague' scheduling
Following months of planning and multiple negotiations, ESL and ESEA launched their so-called “super league”—featuring a $1 million prize fund across the European and North American regions—on April 28. During the league's development, many of ESL’s competitors voiced concerns about possible exclusivity agreements, most of which were later dismissed as being predicated on out-of-date information.
Several tournaments were informed yesterday that the ESL and ESEA schedule would overlap with their events, prompting a resurgence of these concerns and allegations of ESL trying to force an “implied exclusivity” to hurt competitors.
The league is due to start on May 4, with weekly playing times between Mondays and Thursdays, running 8 to 11pm in each region, and dates and times will be scheduled a month in advance. Messages issued to players indicate that teams will be expected to attend these match times decided by ESL, with seemingly little room for negotiation.
In the European region, the dates will overlap with the previously planned online portion of the year’s first Fragbite Masters Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event. Both the groups and playoff stages clash with the first four weeks of the league, which has led Fragbite to conclude that teams who wish to participate in both will most likely have limited opportunities to do so.
Joakim Jansson, project manager for Fragbite Masters, told the Daily Dot:
"It's very unfortunate that the ESL and ESEA tournament is colliding with the majority of the online portion of Fragbite Masters. It is also a bit sad they didn't reach out to us beforehand so we at least got a heads-up. Going forward I hope that ESL and ESEA will work together with the other tournament organizers to prevent this from happening in the future.”
The North American region is allegedly set for similar conflicts, with the MLG and CEVO partnership league potentially affected. The league was announced on March 10, with the regular season set to run between April 19 and June 21. Several teams who are involved in the Super League have privately informed the Daily Dot that they will likely have to choose one league or the other, with the financial incentives for competing in the ESL and ESEA league greater.
A CEVO representative played down the potential for clashes and told the Daily Dot: “We announced back in March that our LAN Finals will take place on July 24-26, and we're very excited for the culmination of our first CS: GO league. As of now, we're not aware of any events with conflicting dates.”
ESL maintains that it has tried to accommodate as many of its competitors as possible when planning its league season. The sudden surge of interest and, subsequently, events in Counter-Strike mean that the calendar is going to continue to be packed. ESL maintains that, in such an environment, scheduling clashes are inevitable and there is nothing malicious about the way the league has been planned.
ESL's senior manager of pro gaming, James Lampkin, gave his view of the situation:
“There are 11 other leagues/tournaments which we balance scheduling around, so overlap is definitely expected. Together with other organizers, we all make best effort across all titles to prevent overlaps or reschedule when it is beneficial to players and the community.
However, with so many leagues, there will overlap, especially since we’re adding the biggest CS:GO league in the world to the ecosystem.
We’re happy to see healthy competition in the space and accept the fact that some leagues will overlap with us at peak broadcast times - just like in traditional sports TV”
Image via Valve