Following the announcement of FACEIT`s Flashpoint League on February 5, ESL has reached its new agreement with 13 of the world`s top Counter-Strike teams. A groundbreaking new agreement between leading teams CS:GO, ESL and DreamHack will govern the construction of the Pro League and the sharing of revenues and profits from ESL`s Pro Tour competitions. Teams that represent the highest level of professional CS:GO also become majority stakeholders in the league with a long-term participation niche. By partnering with leading CS:GO teams, the new agreement establishes the ESL Pro Tour as one of the most valuable assets in the global esports industry. The agreement means that these partner teams are now majority stakeholders with a long-term participation niche and will generate a share of the revenue from all ESL Pro Tour competitions, including IEM Katowice and ESL One Cologne. The ESL Pro Tour has a total prize pool of $5 million in 20 tournaments and leagues. This agreement also makes the majority of the 13 teams stakeholders in the league and will play a role in the functioning of the league. The deal turns the ESL Pro League into a 24-team competition (starting with Season 11 in March) with a single global division moving away from a regional model. The additional 11 teams must qualify based on their world rankings or through the Mountain Dew League, the gateway series of the ESL Pro League. Only 13 teams have been announced as partners in the league, although the agreement itself mentions up to 16 teams involved.
Now that the initial partnership process is complete, questions are being asked about how other partners will be identified. “Teams can apply as partner teams, and then a collective vote takes place where each team and the ESL have a voice,” Schulze said. ESL said the three teams` total offers amounted to nearly $20 million when they wanted to finalize the deal and secure a stake in the Pro League in the future. Esports Insider inquired about the alleged performance indicators and specific benchmarks cooked in the deal, as reported by DBLTAP, but received no comment. The agreement establishes a deep partnership between ESL, DreamHack and partner teams and presents the teams as key stakeholders in the transformed ESL Pro League, which operates with a single global division of 24 teams. Although ESL is one of the largest and longest-running organizers of esports tournaments, they do not have the structural competitive advantage that leagues possess and are operated by game developers, namely the underlying game titles. That`s why this decision is just as smart and meaningful for ESL, because by making these teams partners of the ESL Pro Tour, they have effectively retained the best talent and encouraged them to support the growth of the league. Until there are universal industry standards or agreements, companies like ESL need to be both proactive and aggressive to ensure that the best teams and talent have a proverbial “skin” at stake. In the same way that traditional sports leagues all maintain some form of revenue-sharing agreement, esports leagues, especially those that don`t own the gaming titles, must continue to share revenue with teams to maintain a certain level of loyalty to those leagues. Although the inspiration for the Louvre deal may come from a competitor, its arrival remains a victory for esports.
The advent of revenue-sharing options in CS:GO meant that the term “absolute value” was used quite often in the name of different percentages. what the ESL Pro League can generate from this front will only become apparent over time. Either way, the structure of the agreement places a point on the board for sustainability – an area of the industry that is still under development. In fact, the deal will aim to give deep-rooted stability to participating teams by not only providing them with long-term spots in their new 24-team Pro League, but also by distributing revenue shares and profits from ESL`s Pro Tour events – previously accounting for 21.25% of all gross revenue and 60% of profits in the first year. although this has not yet been officially confirmed. The agreement also states that the league will have a “draft selection process” for partner teams wishing to participate in ESL Circuit events. “Teams can select events twice a year,” he said of the process. “Any team that ranks 20th or higher is eligible. The highest ranked team selects an event, then the second highest and so on until all partner seats have been selected. With the weight of this harmony, Esports Insider decided to speak with Ulrich Schulze, Senior Vice President Product at ESL, to learn more about the agreement and its structure.
Patrik “cArn” Sattermon, Chief Gaming Officer of Fnatic, also commented on the decision: “This agreement is a big step forward for us on the path to sustainability in Counter-Strike. This league will offer the highest level of competitive play with the best teams in the world, which is always where Fnatic should be. ESL has supported the Professional Counter-Strike from the very beginning and we look forward to leading CS:GO into the future together. The agreement also means that partner teams will derive a portion of the revenue from all ESL Pro Tour competitions, including branded tournaments such as IEM Katowice and ESL One Cologne. In addition, partner teams that rank in the top 20 are eligible to select spots in ESL Pro Tour events in a draft pick. ESL has announced an exclusive agreement with 13 CS:GO teams, dubbed the “Louvre Accord,” which offers long-term slots in their global Pro League. ESL has announced that Heroic, FURIA and BIG have been added to the list of teams that have partnered with the tournament organizer by signing the Louvre Agreement. The three organizations` offers to close the deal amounted to nearly $20 million, according to the press release. “The new unit will use our combined forces to open the best path for all,” Goossens said in a prepared statement. “We see this as a monumental agreement and an important step forward for the entire eSports industry. The team`s three organizations joined 12 others who signed the agreement when it was first announced in February 2020.