The Gaules fiasco highlights the sea change in the way TOs approach secondary streams, writes Tim Masters.
The relationship between streamers and the people who own the rights to tournament feeds has been a topic of conversation in esports for many a year now. Dota had a long hard talk about it, and came to an agreement, and CS:GO enjoyed a bit of that drama last year when StarLadder decided to get a bit pushy with their media rights for the Major, and essentially took down a load of streams that were restreaming their broadcast and talking over the top.
This is probably something we’ll see more and more of in the next few years, for obvious reasons, but there are times when it makes sense to allow an additional stream elsewhere, even if it cuts into your own numbers. One example would be second-language streams, for example when a Brazilian team is playing but you don’t have Portuguese casters on hand to provide commentary for fans of the South Americans.
Fans of CS might already know where we’re going with this, to a conflict between a person named Gaules on Twitch and, well, most of the North American CS:GO scene. Normally this would just result in thousands of death threats on Twitter and little else, but on this occasion we have a worthy adversary in the picture, in the form of Thorin, and his friends at the FLASHPOINT project, who may well decide to pull the plug on ‘community’ casters.
There is a long history of animosity between the bearded bard of esports and the Brazilian fans, who believe that comments made (and apologised for) in the past show Thorin has a problem with their people. Those who know FLASHPOINT’s finest will already know he’s not the sort of guy to back down from a fight, which has led to a situation where he has stated he won’t be travelling to Brazil in the future out of concern for his own safety.
With all of this in mind, and combined with his general outlook on life, it is no surprise that he was the first person to publicly state the possibility of channels like Gaules not being given streaming rights in future. There is also another reason that FLASHPOINT will likely lead this charge, the fact they have a commercial partner in Brazil that works with them already, and that might give us a glimpse of the future elsewhere in the scene, too, or at least the potential alternatives TOs have at their disposal.
With the growth and advancement of franchise leagues, the fortunes of teams and tournaments are as closely intertwined as they have been since, well, BLASTralis. Today, you have leagues where the orgs involved are commercial partners, meaning that the success of the league is the success of the teams therein to some extent, and vice versa.
That will be part of the reason FLASHPOINT have preferred MIBR as their streaming partner for Portuguese language broadcasts over the likes of Gaules, and the audience that streamers like the aforementioned leaf-bully don’t seem so loyal that they won’t switch over to MIBR’s own broadcast if that’s what it takes. With the international nature of CSGO there are going to be orgs across the world who have the resources to offer this service, severely reducing the importance of people like Gaules.
That is not to say it is inevitable that only teams will get stream rights in future, as there is a lot of good about connecting with the grassroots, but if streamers from those scenes make a habit of creating toxic environments or negative PR for a tournament, there is no longer a reason they have to be kept around with the increased options TOs have for partnerships. 2020 is teaching us that some of the roots of esports are worth holding onto, and some of them are very much better left in the past, and it comes down to each individual to decide if they want to be part of the future of the esport as we move toward a more professional scene.