Multiple sources have informed Breitbart that a coalition of the largest tournament organisers in Counter-Strike, namely MLG, CEVO, PGL, Gfinity, FACEIT and StarLadder, are in talks to group together to create a global Grand Prix style circuit for the hugely popular first-person shooter.
So far the partnership has reportedly agreed in principle to a minimum of $5 million, although some sources place the amount as high as $9 million.
The move comes amid concerns that the Swedish media company Modern Times Group is acquiring multiple eSports properties in a bid to create their own global circuit. Breitbart recently reported that MTG, who already have a controlling share in industry leader the Electronic Sports League, have almost secured a deal for the American league ESEA and are in extended talks with DreamHack. In a bid to ensure that the MTG conglomerate doesn’t dominate the eSports space, the remaining companies have decided that a partnership would be in their best interests.
One source from within one of the coalition companies voiced concerns about rumours, so far unsubstantiated, that both ESL and MTG had been in talks about purchasing teams directly as they look to try and secure a form of franchising for what would be an exclusive global league.
“What we’re being told,” they said, “is that ESL and MTG are speaking directly with teams about agreeing to be purchased outright or signing up to their league exclusively for 2016. We are told this agreement would forbid them from playing in any other league and the only other tournaments they’d be allowed to attend would be [Valve’s own] the majors.”
This isn’t the first time ESL have found themselves accused of looking to create an exclusive league for themselves. In April this year ESL, fantasy e-sports betting platform Vulcun, and multiple top eSports organisations met at the Twitch TV offices in San Francisco to discuss the possibility of an exclusive league. Talks fell after leaks about the supposed private meeting came through to the media.
The same source also told Breitbart that teams had been given a deadline of last week in regards to making a decision about either selling or committing to the MTG/ESL league in an exclusive capacity. Representatives of this coalition reached out to teams and told them of their plans to ensure that people made an informed decision about where their future lay. “We just told them that they would miss out on all of this if they signed anything,” the source concluded.
With the announcement of the Turner network launching their own televised CS:GO league to be broadcast on TBS, the CS:GO calendar is starting to look crowded. With Turner’s proposed twenty weeks of competition and three majors every year, the CS:GO tournament organisers are keen to protect their sizeable investments to date. Another employee of one of the coalition members explained, “We’re not going after ESL but with everything they are doing we all need to protect ourselves. The best way of doing that is together.” The Grand Prix circuit does not seek exclusivity from the teams who compete in it.
In addition to the pressure from MTG’s ongoing investment in e-sports, several of the top e-sports organisations recently announced a coalition of their own, releasing a series of demands they want tournament organisers to meet in 2016. Among them was the statement that teams wouldn’t attend international tournaments unless there was a minimum of $75,000 prize money and all expenses were covered. With several of these tournament organisers having hosted multiple events in 2015 that fell short of this prize pool, banding together could be a way to ensure attendance of the elite level teams at branded events where it might not have been possible before.
What isn’t clear at this stage is how the Grand Prix can be beneficial to all the members involved. Any agreement to hold fewer events annually to facilitate a fair distribution of tournaments would eat into profits of the company doing so. This loss of income would need to be offset either by better monetisation of events or investment. There is also the fact that such alliances have been proposed in the past and have fallen through when large amounts of money are placed on the table.
So far none of the companies we contacted within this group wish to make an official statement, but they told Breitbart that as soon as the details are finalised they will make them public.
Follow Richard Lewis on Twitter @.