CS:GO Players Write Letter Calling Out Unfair Treatment from PEA and Team Owners
In the year 1999, Counter-Strike was released as a mod for Half-Life and as it changed from a beta to the full release, it created a following of players that have taken competitive shooting skills to a whole other level. Whether it was 1.6, Source, or Global Defensive it has been a way for players to demonstrate their abilities with teams around the globe competing in local, regional, and international tournaments. The professional CS:GO players have become legends in the gaming community and have always been treated with respect, until now.
A veteran esports player named Scott “SirScoots” Smith has posted an open letter expressing a lack of trust in the CS:GO team owners on behalf of 25 of Counter-Strike’s best players from 5 of the world’s most high profile teams. They start the letter off by expressing their respect and love for the game and their team owners.
“As players, we dedicate our lives to the game of Counter-Strike. If you combine the 25 of us who have signed this letter, we have more than 200 years of Counter-Strike experience — that’s a lot of Dust2. While we do feel that we give a lot to the game, there is no doubt that it has rewarded us in return. We are grateful for the opportunity to be professional Counter-Strike players, and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to do what we love for a living.”
They acknowledge that they wouldn’t be able to do what they love for a living without the CS:GO teams, tournaments, casters, sponsors, journalists, Valve, and the community , but even though they appreciate their owners support, they needed to express their doubts about some things. This letter is a direct result of the controversy that arose with the inception of the PEA (Professional Esports Association). The original goal of PEA was to give both the owners and the players 50% share of the profits, player retirement, investment planning, health insurance, and more.
“When the PEA was announced, our owners and Jason Katz, the PEA’s Commissioner, made it clear to the esports world that it was their goal to empower the players and collaborate with transparency. Andy from TSM said that the PEA had no intention to be exclusive and that it would share strategic decisions with the players. Steve from Liquid said that he wanted to see esports get to a place where the players and teams were aligned. Jack from C9 called us partners. Jason Katz himself said that the players would have a strong voice in every major league decision and that the PEA would make sure it reached agreements with us regarding our overall commitment to the league. He also said that the PEA would have the highest level of transparency in the industry. The PEA’s own press release promised that its management structure would ensure that the players had an authoritative voice in league operations.”
Unfortunately, things started appearing more shady and less inclusive. They go on to express how clueless they were to most planning and had very little to do with decisions at all. In fact even when it came to the voting committee, they were outnumbered.
“The PEA started hosting rules committee meetings in early November, and our player representatives started developing concerns about its voting structure right from the start. We were told that committee decisions would be decided by a simple majority of seven votes: three belonging to our player reps, two belonging to reps selected by the team owners, and the final two belonging to the PEA itself. The league Commissioner, Jason Katz, would have one of these two PEA votes. When our player reps pointed out that this meant we could always be out-voted by the league and the owners, Jason said that it was designed this way intentionally — to help avoid stalemates. He said that the PEA votes should be considered unbiased and that even as Commissioner he would be a trustworthy, unbiased voter. So there we were: the minority vote on the committee that was supposed to give us an “authoritative voice,” reliant on two PEA officials (including the Commissioner himself) to be unbiased in a league that was owned and operated by the team owners. Our player reps, to say the least, were skeptical — but we had no choice but to go with the flow for the time being.”
Once they realized just how screwed they were, the players reached out to Smith for help in this situation, since he has a lot of experience in the world of CS:GO teams.
“Scott has been in esports for 16 years and has been a consistent advocate for professional Counter-Strike players in that time. He’s outspoken and critical in all directions, and also has experience as a team owner, so we felt he would be a great central voice for us to work through. He now represents all of the 25 players who signed this letter in discussions with the PEA and our team owners, and we hope that our friends from NRG and CompLexity will turn 25 into 35 after they read this.”
Smith sent a letter on behalf of the CS:GO players to the PEA and its team owners and they found out hours after receiving the letter, the PEA had serious discussions with the EPL for the first time and they proposed a plan in which EPL would have to “vacate” North America, and leave it in the PEA’s control. The EPL could either accept the proposal, or the PEA would force the players to leave the EPL and they would have to play only in the PEA league. That had confirmed their concerns and suspicions. As far as the players were concerned, the PEA and the team owners meant to prevent them from playing in the EPL.
“While it was made clear in our letter that we wouldn’t be comfortable being forced out of EPL, some of the PEA owners still scheduled meetings with their players from the 7th to the 9th to try and convince us that their new plan was in our best interests. While we were skeptical, we wanted to hear our owners out, so we attended to listen and voice our concerns. Some of the owners used a presentation document to pitch us, and we asked the PEA for a copy so that we could review it with Scott on our own time, but it felt like we were getting the run-around. One owner told us that Scott should already have a copy. Jason Katz said that he wasn’t aware of the existence of such a document. Another owner told us that he needed Jason’s approval to share a copy with us. Between the 7th and the 9th, we collectively requested a copy of the presentation no less than five times, but we never received one.”
The CS:GO players did their best to consider the PEA’s plan, but decided the PEA’s proposal was not in the best interests of the players or the community, and that they would like to stay in the EPL. At this point Smith sent another letter to the PEA expressing their position and asking for a formal written decision. The PEA replied requesting a phone meeting, and the players agreed to consider it. They explained that it would take some time, because some players were in Atlanta for the Major Qualifier. The very next day though, they found out that negotiations between the PEA and EPL were already over and that the EPL had offered to share league revenues with the PEA as “a kind of olive branch gesture”, but they refused.
“If you’re wondering how the PEA and our team owners can just force us out of a major competition, you’re wondering the same thing we were about two weeks ago. So, when the PEA and our owners first spoke more openly about their ability to tell us where we can and can’t play, we asked them what gave them the right. Their response was very direct: It’s in your contracts. This came as a shock — our owners had always given us the clear impression that we held the final say when it came to where we competed. In a profession where so much of your income depends on your performance and brand exposure, being able to choose where you play is vital. We expressed our disagreement to the PEA and our owners, and pointed out that what was now happening contradicted just about everything they had said back in September, but they still stuck to their position. As Jason Katz, who had described himself a few months before as a trustworthy and unbiased party, told one group of players: ‘Things change.'”
The CS:GO players feel that they are not being treated fairly or offered the level of transparency they expected. They decided to publish this letter “rather than engage in further talks with the PEA behind closed doors”. They told their owners that they are willing to participate in the PEA’s inaugural season, but they are not OK with being forced out of EPL , or any other competition. They rightfully believe that, as players, “we have the right to determine where we can and cannot compete.”
“We hope that our owners will resolve this situation in a way that allows us to again trust them to look out for our best interests as players. At the same time, though, we realize that we might be at the point where esports as an industry is now just too big for trust alone to reasonably protect everyone’s interests. Either way, you can’t have trust without honesty, and you can’t have honesty without transparency. Our hope is that, by involving the community in this discussion, we can set an example for the kind of respectful, open, transparent dialogue that should be the industry standard.”
Do you think the CS:GO players are being reasonable? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and check back with DFTG for all your gaming news. Have you seen the new Injustice 2 gameplay video that shows off Supergirl’s fighting moves? Watch it here!
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