Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of Rivalry.
The motley crew of individuals on Flashpoint's board warrants the same sort of scrutiny as other concerning business deals in the scene.
CS:GO has been awash with tales of dodgy dealings this week, some of which were done dirt cheap, and it’s nothing new. Richard Lewis’ exposé on Astralis was the centrepiece of the action, but we also had the unedifying sight of Brazil’s second best team abusing FURIA on social media after a disagreement over a pause in game, and Jamppi failing to sue the correct part of Valve in his attempt to get un-VAC banned.
Against this backdrop the announcement from Flashpoint about MonteCristo being named commissioner of the league went a bit under the radar, which isn’t a surprise when you consider Monte isn’t a massive name in CS and has limited experience in the esport. He joins a rather interesting list of people on the board, which includes MIBR’s TACO, and Immortals’ Tomi Kovanen (or lurppis to those of you who remember when CS:GO was in black and white).
This is another obvious conflict of interest, but at this stage there are so many that it seems worthless pointing them out. Even if those people on the board don’t have decision-making power, as has been stated by Flashpoint, the presence of not one but two representatives of the Immortals Group in the shape of TACO and lurppis is a huge advantage to that group, especially when you consider the influence they hold generally, with TACO also present on the CSPPA Board.
Whether this power was given as leverage to ensure MIBR joined Flashpoint, who were somewhat scrambling for teams at the time, is something we’ll never know. However, with the insane power the MIBR team (and fanbase) have on social media, especially in their homeland, it does have some interesting, and potentially worrying connotations for the league long term.
In the fallout that followed the start of the competition it has emerged that Astralis essentially negotiated with B-Site in bad faith for some time before bailing to play in ESL’s Pro League, which would have left Flashpoint with few, if any recognisable brands outside of MIBR, and likely strengthened the Brazilian negotiating position.
Speaking of other recognisable brands, Cloud9 have an even more influential position in the league, with C9 President Dan Fiden also heavily involved in the early stages of the league to the point he was even rolled out on talk shows to be the face of Flashpoint. With this much power doled out to founding orgs, you do wonder what Flashpoint could offer to any new prospective partner they might want to attract without downgrading the sense of importance MIBR and C9 currently enjoy.
The public faces of Flashpoint have been fairly bullish in their belief they will be able to secure ‘better’ talent for season two and beyond, which could well be complicated in a way negotiations for year one might not have been. Contact Gaming might not feel empowered to demand similar status to MIBR, but if you invite Liquid or EG into the fold you will need to make them feel special, without annoying the famously capricious Brazilians – or their fanatical fanbase.
We’ve seen this week that the Brazilian players are not above leveraging that influence, especially when they feel wronged or threatened, meaning that the next few seasons will need to be navigated with expert care. It probably can’t help to have Thorin so closely associated with the brand either, given his history of animosity with Brazilian fans, but his value to the project is undoubtedly higher than any potential cost associated with his appearances on By The Numbers and the like.
On the other hand, there is a school of thought that says no publicity is bad publicity and MIBR are great at creating headlines these days, but they are certainly an interesting partner for Flashpoint to have so early in the project, and the future with them looks complicated. An aging squad of well-paid, popular players that can mobilise a massive fan base against any enemy (even other Brazilians) is a dangerous thing to leave lying around, and at some point might go off in Flashpoint’s face.