The formation of an esports players’ union is one of the primary focus of several parties. With the growth of esports approaching a rapid momentum, it is important to ensure the proper infrastructure around the industry. Esports history is filled with scams, cheaters and con men trying to make a quick buck at the players’ and sponsors’ expense. Having a players’ union is exactly the kind of stuff that will project a unified voice forward and have a stronger say at the negotiating table.
After years of debating and going back and forth on the topic, a Players union for CS GO has finally come into existence. The Counter-Strike Professional Players Association is the first of its kind in esports. It is a ‘no strings attached’ players union, one that is truly run by the players themselves. We see leaders in the industry such as Jordan Gilbert, SirScoots, Nathan “NBK-“ Schmitt spearheading this union. They have always vouched for the players’ rights and the striven to do what’s right for the players. Of course, they have not always been successful partly due to inadequate resources and lack of unity amongst the players.
The Counter-Strike Professional Players Association gained traction after the PEA debacle in late 2016. The players’ inability to do anything with regards to the team owners actions’ made them realize that they were the ones at a disadvantage. After long talks and discussions which lasted over a year, the Players Association has come into existence. Here is an excerpt from their official statement.
As any other players’ association, we will work to secure the best possible working conditions for players in CS:GO, while of course taking into account the special nature of the industry
In any sport, it makes sense that players can influence their employment conditions. There is certainly a huge difference in how CS:GO contracts are structured, and there will definitely be players that could benefit from guidance when signing them.
Our goal is to represent the players in the best possible way and help the entire scene grow in a positive direction. We see a lot of possibilities for doing that.
CSPPA Legal Advisor, Michael Døi
The CSPPA Board comprises of seven members, all of whom are current Counter-Strike professionals. They are from diverse geographic locations and represent over 90 players who are a part of CSPPA.
- Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth
- Epitacio “TACO” de Melo
- Tarik “tarik” Celik
- Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski
- Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert
- Chris “chrisJ” de Jong
- Nathan “NBK” Schmitt.
Any player who is contracted or actively seeking a contract as a professional Counter-Strike player and ‘who competes at an elite level’ is eligible to be an active member of the CSPPA. This is a no-strings-attached association which is looking to help upcoming and existing professional players alike.
It’s great news for teams and Valve
The scattered nature of player voices throughout CS GO had little impact or say in things that matter. Most of the players took to Social media outlets such as Twitter to express their discontent. For the teams and tournament organizers, this is great news.
Tournament organizers such as ESL, FaceIT, Dreamhack will have a unified association to talk to. Players can put forth their minimum demands from tournaments. These can include the on-stage equipment, potential drug checks, and any potential unjust rules.
Great meetings this weekend with many CS:GO industry stakeholders regarding the CSPPA. Progress takes time and it takes all sides working together to ensure the greatest esport stays that way for years to come.
— Scott Smith (@SirScoots) January 29, 2018
CSPPA will be able to ensure proper contracts and hold teams liable to their responsibilities. In the past, several teams have bailed on their players. The individual player does not have the resources to pursue legal recourse against the organisation. Scams and Cheating in esports have happened as late as 2015-16.
The Players Union provides a unified voice to the players. New and upcoming players can get guidance on their contracts before signing them. Even a signed contract at times can be challenged in a court of law if it’s terms are unjust depending on the situation.
Tournament organizers would be happy about the creation of a players union. They finally have some organisation to sit across the negotiating table, one which presents a unified voice for players’ concerns. It is easier and often cheaper for tournament organisers to negotiate with CSPPA rather than several individual players.
Have there been any major lawsuits in esports?
For now, there have not been major lawsuits in esports especially when it involves players. There have been a few lawsuits involving Tier 3-4 teams but none of them involve Tier 1 teams or players. SirScoots feels that the first big lawsuit in esports would be between a team and a sponsor. With Esports’ growing popularity, there is a chance of a bubble in the market. Player salaries are skyrocketing, especially in the North American region. With limited sources of revenue for teams, it might create an imbalance in the market.
The problem itself is not for the mature players,” he said, “but more for the new, ambitious guys that come in every year and are willing to sacrifice everything to make it pro. Often, these young players end up stuck with contracts that are almost abusive.
Enrique ‘xPeke’ Cedeño Martínez, Team Origen
In the future, we might see situations where the CSPPA refuses to participate in a league or tournaments. This might be due to organisers refusing to meet with their demands. We have seen such situations in physical sports in the past. Of course Physical sports has taken several decades to reach the point it is today, esports is just beginning to take off.
What’s next for CSPPA?
The announcement was just about the start of CSPPA. The founding board members might just be temporary as the members will elect a new board within the first year. They can also confirm the existing board as is.
The CSPPA will strive to open dialogues between teams and players. They will probably have a minimum requirement of all tournaments depending on the prize pool. At the same time, they will provide legal representation to the new and upcoming players. Ensuring new players are not taken advantage of is one of the prime directives for the association. Getting more players under their umbrella provides a great negotiating chip for the association at the table. At the same time, it will also ensure fair contracts and deals for players.
The CSPPA is a win-win for all parties. The fact that it has taken so long is definitely worrying, but the first step s always the hardest one. The Association will also set up players for opportunities and income post their playing career. From now on, CSPPA should be the one stop for discussions about player facilities, contracts and much more.