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Tim Masters
Written By: Tim Masters

Watches esports a lot, when he's not writing about esports. Also enjoys video games.

Nov 27, 2019

While the world of CS:GO cried to the heavens about a scoped rifle and went nuts over player skins, Valve has been thinking about the ecosystem of the esport. It may not seem it from the outside, but CS:GO is plagued with issues that even today make investing in the game risky, when compared to League of Legends or another franchised league, and removing the conflict of interest that is present at many, if not all levels will go a long way to creating a more sustainable scene for years to come. However, it’s clear there’s still more to do on that front.

“For 2020, teams and players registering for the Majors will be required to publicly disclose their business relationships with other participants and/or the tournament organizer, so that public conversations can be had about the value that leagues and other entanglements offer versus the risk that they pose. Failure to disclose any business with the TO or other participants will likely result in disqualification.”

For those who missed it, a recent CS:GO blog published on November 12th contained the paragraph above that basically confirmed that Valve would like to clamp down on these issues, and teams would be required to publicly disclose their business relationships with ‘other participants and/or the tournament organiser’. While there is a lack of commitment to action, this is at least a step in the right direction from a company that has long chosen to take a hands-off approach to keeping their esport clean.

However, as the beady-eyed among you will no doubt have already noticed, their statements from 2018 are strikingly similar, telling teams in no uncertain measure that they “are required to affirm that they have no business entanglement (including, but not limited to, shared management, shared ownership of entities, licensing, and loans) with any other participating team or its players”.

“Teams and players should not have any financial interest in the success of any team that they are competing against. To participate in the 2018 Fall Major, players and teams are required to affirm that they have no business entanglement (including, but not limited to, shared management, shared ownership of entities, licensing, and loans) with any other participating team or its players. If teams or players have an agreement or business arrangement that may be of concern, then please reach out to the tournament officials for further discussion.”

The fact the teams are then asked to reach out for ‘further discussion’, rather than just divest themselves of said dodgy investments is the first warning sign, and the fact Valve are back a year later with similarly washy language is maybe a reason to be fearful. A closer look at this week’s blog also shows that while Valve are making the right noises, there is a lot of wiggle room for anyone that still wants to have their fingers in many pies in the world of CS:GO.

If we look at the latest statement, you’ll see that once again there is room for improvement, specifically for a commitment to actually take action when a team has been proven to have flouted the rules. Even the threat of disqualification for failure to disclose is only written as likely, rather than a definitive line in the sand being drawn for the good of the game.

Quite why it is that Valve are still not taking a harder stance is hard to be sure of, but the reality is that they are trying to govern a game that has professional players on at least five continents, if not more. Just banning teams from the Majors won’t have the same effect it would on a player either, as the goal for many of those who would fall foul of these rules isn’t to be the greatest CS:GO player, but to make money off the game without contributing anything positive, which makes banning them both harder, and far more worthwhile for both the fans and the company’s bottom line long-term. However, it is hard to imagine a future where this post marks the definitive end to these discussions, and it remains to be seen what it takes to get Valve to truly bring down the hammer, either as a preventative measure or a painful punishment.

Photo credit: HLTV

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