Details of a meeting between Modern Times Group-owned Electronic Sports League (ESL) and several team owners were leaked after ESL staff forgot to update their mailing list.
The email was sent to multiple team owners who were not invited to the meeting and were summarily told to ignore it. The email referred to a meeting to be held in Cologne on February 10-11.
Counter-Strike fans will recall that the last time ESL were involved in clandestine meetings with team owners it was in regards to potentially setting up an “exclusivity league” where the best teams from across the world compete under the ESL and ESEA banner. The talks fell through following leaks that ESL believed emanated from team owners in a bid to increase their value. The ESL/ESEA Pro League was announced shortly after.
Since then team owners have been looking for the best way to leverage their brand value in return for financial gain. With the emergence of the televised E-League, ran by the Turner network, going head to head with ESL, reportedly teams have offered exclusivity to one over the other in exchange for a signing bonus.
One team owner told us, “I was surprised to receive the email and immediately queried it.” They added, “I asked them if they wanted us to attend and they said that it was just a mistake and not to worry about it. Then a few others told me the same thing had happened to them.”
Another team owner added, “ESL clearly aren’t having all these teams in for dinner and a movie. They’re up to something. It’s just strange they invited us and others who had no clue what the meeting was about.”
Included on the email were team owners who had formally issued a list of demands to multiple leagues about what conditions would be required to ensure their teams participation, as this author revealed in October of last year. Also among the invitees was Carlos “Oceltote” Rodriguez, owner of G2 Esports, who was recently embroiled in controversy surrounding some of the tactics employed during the sale of his CS:GO team to Call of Duty organisation FaZe Clan.
We reached out to ESL to ask what the meeting was about, and they issued Breitbart the following statement:
We’ve begun meeting with team owners and players frequently across our leagues and products. It’s part of our 2016 effort to have more direct involvement in the planning of our events, leagues, and tournaments, from the people participating in them. With our industry booming, we expect communication and in-person meetings between leagues and teams to be a pretty regular occurrence.