Valve addresses Exclusivity Clauses, Conflicts of Interest and Media rights in CSGO

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Valve released a CS:GO blog discussing important esports topics including exclusivity clauses, tournament media rights and conflict of interests.

Valve’s latest blog titled ‘Keeping Things Competitive’ outlines their existing rules regarding the above topics and also touches upon important issues such as Conflict of Interests within the community and Media rights for CS:GO Majors and Valve-sponsored events. 

Leagues and Exclusivity


Counter Strike Global Offensive does not restrict third-party tournament operators from organizing events. The rapid growth of the esports scene validates this business approach and Valve’s minimal involvement has worked wonders so far. The increased competition between tournament organizers led to improved production and experience for the viewers. 

At this time we are not interested in providing licenses for events that restrict participating teams from attending other events.


ESL Pro Tour and BLAST Premier 2020 have moved towards creating exclusivity with their recent tournament announcements. ESL Pro Tour’s exclusivity clauses prohibit teams from taking part in other tournaments with over 60 active competition days. 

Tournament Organizers own Media Rights to CS:GO Majors


Starladder was notorious for issuing DMCA strikes to community streamers

Valve’s latest judgement reaffirms the tournament organizer’s license ownership for the Major. Starladder’s DMCA strikes against community streamers during the Berlin Major led to controversy in the CS:GO community with many demanding answers from Valve. Well, here you have it. 

Th Major tournament operator has always been the only party that has had a license to broadcast the Major.

However, Valve added an underlined statement, possibly as a veiled warning for tournament organizers to play nice. 

Major tournament operators are expected to work with streamers in order to provide viewers with access to valuable alternative content and underserved languages, whether through official streams or otherwise.

It is still unclear whether community streamers would need to pay the tournament organizer to re-stream the matches at CS:GO Majors. Starladder was notorious for demanding thousands of dollars from community streamers, however,  they dialed down their demand (presumably after pressure from Valve). 

Conflicts of Interest


Astralis players ecstatic after winning BLAST Pro Series. Image Credits: Esportsfix



Valve has finally spoken up about the Conflict of Interest in the CSGO esports industry. Over the past five years, there are multiple individuals with interests in different entities.  These positions of power can lead to huge conflicts of interest, raising questions on the integrity of the esports scene. 

A few examples of conflict of interest in the past

  • RFRSH owns Astralis and BLAST
  • Jens Hilgers, Chairman of G2 Esports and Founder of ESL
  • In 2016, ESForce owned Na’Vi, Virtus Pro, SK Gaming and EPICENTER
  • ESEA has dealings with several North American teams

The CS:GO scene has multiple examples where individuals and entities have clear conflicts of interest with the potential for misuse. Valve’s blog points out existing agreements which prevent teams and players from having any conflicts of interest. 

“I am not currently aware of any conflict of interest that I might have with another participating team or any player on another participating team. […] I understand that failure to report my conflict of interest may result in my disqualification from the event and/or forfeiture of proceeds.”

No other esport title allows for such blatant conflicts of interest, especially amongst multiple teams at the top level and one of the most prominent tournament organizers in esports. 

This Ruling Will Shape the CS:GO Esports in 2020


Valve will need to make hard decisions in 2020 in order to rein in tournament organizers.


Valve’s statement is an important step which will determine the course of CS:GO esports in 2020. Many tournament organizers were already moving towards exclusive leagues and Valve’s blog puts a stop to their original plans. We still expect ESL Pro Tour and BLAST Premier, however, there might be a few changes because of Valve’s statement. 

EBTips will keep you updated with any news regarding these leagues and Valve’s decision on them. ESL will release more details about their ESL Pro Tour at ESL One New York on September 28. 


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