[CS:GO] PEA Pro League Controversy Heats Up

Right now the issue of exclusivity in esports is a topic of much contention, especially in the North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene.  The big issue? Leagues requiring teams/players to agree to not participate in other leagues, tournaments, or other playing opportunities.  It was an outcome some opposed earlier this year with the controversial announcement of WESA and its ties to ESL.

In September, the Professional Esports Association (PEA) was announced in partnership with seven teams: compLexity, Immortals, Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9, NRG, Team SoloMid and Team Liquid.  The PEA promised a $1 million North American Pro League, revenue sharing between the league and the teams, and full player involvement regarding league decisions.

Earlier this week, players began speaking out about the league, claiming they haven’t been kept informed about PEA decisions.  The big decision?  Players say PEA told their teams they could not play in ESL’s Pro League if they take part in PEA’s league.  The players were concerned about losing out on playing in one of the biggest leagues in CS:GO in exchange for team revenue from a smaller league.

25 players signed an open letter penned by community figure Scott “SirScoots” Smith protesting the deal.  Players from the teams involved have also been using the tag “#playersrights” to address their concerns on social media.

Now that the fallout has begun, we’ll help you catch up:

  • TSM player Sean Gares was released from the team by owner Andy Dinh after the player failed to talk to him about his concerns about the league and tweeted publicly about his frustrations, including the aforementioned letter by SirScoots.  Gares then released screen shots of his conversation with his team’s owner on Twitter.
  • Andy Dinh penned his own response to the Gares situation, saying that he let the player go because of how he handled the situation publicly.
  • TSM player Relyks releases “A Unified Letter” about his teammate’s roles in player’s rights letter, stating that though some players never read the letter SirScoots signed in their names, they all agreed with the tone and the message.  He says the players have been frustrated by a lack of communication from the league.
  • ELEAGUE analyst and CS:GO community commentator Richard Lewis releases a lengthy video about what he calls the impending “Esports Cold War”.
  • Immortals CEO and member of the PEA Player Relations Committee Noah Whinston releases a response to the players’ letter, saying PEA is a non-exclusive league.  He says the reason why players would not be able to participate in the ESL Pro League is down to over-saturation and too many leagues within the pro CS:GO community.Whinston also says teams and players can decide whether they want to participate or not.  Whinston also acknowledges that the players were left in the dark regarding some of the league’s decisions and the owners could have done a better job of keeping them informed.
  • WESA has weighed in with a statement of their own in response to PEA:

    “PEA’s compromise offer by Jason Katz boiled down to us terminating the NA division of the ESL Pro League. We politely declined that offer.

    We are still interested in finding a solution that benefits teams and players alike. In the talks with PEA, we offered to give all teams and players, including the PEA teams, in the league a significant part of the revenue (not profit) of the league.

    As the letter written by Noah Whinston on behalf of PEA is wrong on many accounts, we want to invite all players of Pro League, PEA or not, and their representatives, to go through the offer together with us to get the information first hand. @WESAofficial

    The use of “we” is interesting in this statement, because in the past WESA has denied that it runs tournaments or is controlled with ESL’s interests in mind.

As of press time (12/23/2016), all of the teams that were to be involved with PEA are still cooperating with the league.

The inaugural season is supposed to begin January of 2017.