Several participants in the Counter-Strike:Global Offensive ESL ESEA Pro League have expressed their surprise at the speed with which their inclusion was announced, with several saying that they had not agreed to compete in the new league.
Fnatic coach Jonatan “Devilwalk” Lundberg first highlighted the issue in a Swedish speaking interview with Fragbite.se. He explained “we never received any schedule from ESL before the announcement,” before adding: “we didn’t even accept the invite. We were just announced as participants.”
Elaborating on these comments Lundberg told the Daily Dot that “there were no talks for accepting an invite for [the] ESL ESEA Pro League and that just felt disrespectful… this is the first time someone [has] just announced us and put a schedule public without discussing it with us first.”
He added “I think ESEA were in talks with Fnatic about accepting the next season of their league, but that’s completely different as it involves less teams and less time. That’s a major factor for accepting tournaments nowadays; the time you need to invest.”
One team owner, who requested to remain anonymous, told the Daily Dot that “we just saw the announcement that we were involved go public and we contacted ESL afterwards. We were always going to compete but we hadn’t accepted the invite and it was surprising there was no notice about the announcement.”
Another team owner said that “they couldn’t find anything official” but presumed that as they were signed up to the next season of ESEA anyway, this was the reason why they were announced as participating. “I guess it’s being sold as being the same league with more prize money,” they added, “but the schedule makes it a completely different commitment.”
We spoke to three other teams who all told the Daily Dot that they had made no agreement to compete in the “new” league prior to their involvement being announced.
Part of the confusion seems to emanate from the meetings surrounding the original concept for what became known as the “super league.” Involved in those meetings at various stages were ESL, Vulcun, Twitch, and a group of team owners who had unofficially unionized for the purposes of collective bargaining. When the story was leaked this created an air of distrust that led to the deal being put on hold indefinitely while people reevaluated their positions.
Privately ESL has been keen to stress that this league, while a significant improvement on previous products both in terms of stature and prize money, is not the “super league” that was being discussed initially. It seems several parties viewed this league as an independent product. However, the changes to the league are significant enough that such “confusion” could be expected.
Speaking on the matter ESL issued the following statement to the Daily Dot:
“The ESL Pro League and the ESEA league were combined into one as the new season commenced. This meant that two schedules and prize pools were merged.
As ESL ESEA Pro League’s first season was Invite Only, it was necessary to reach out to teams in order to confirm their participation. In each case, we reached out to the Teams through our usual channels of communication with them. In most cases we spoke to either the Team Captain or Team Manager to confirm that they would be taking part in the league.
For context, team executives/CEO’s are almost never directly contacted for participation requests – this is always handled at a more junior level. For example, all ESL One Frankfurt teams were reached out to at a team Captain or team manager level as is industry standard. As ESL ESEA Pro League follows the same industry standards as our other products and leagues, we maintain that status quo for requests for participation, scheduling and prize pool payouts.”