Valve threatening FaZe, MIBR players for conflicts of interest

Nick J. June 8, 2020

Valve has cited a number of different Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro players and staff for potential conflicts of interest surrounding the upcoming ESL One Rio Major, including players on MIBR, FaZe Clan, and DIGNITAS.

Seven individuals, including Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo,  Epitacio "TACO" de Melo, Marcelo "coldzera" David, MIBR manager Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia, Evil Geniuses coach Wilton "zews" Prado, Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, and Immortals' general manager Tomi "lurppis" Kovanen were warned by Valve according to an email obtained by HLTV.

For current and former MIBR members FalleN, TACO, coldzera, dead, and zews, the main problem lies with their controlling interest in Yeah Gaming. Yeah is also competing for a spot in 2020's CSGO Major, ESL One Rio. MIBR and Yeah Gaming faced off against one another in Valve's first Regional Ranking tournament earlier this spring. When news broke that MIBR members had a financial interest in Yeah Gaming, CSGO fans immediately cried foul, with the teams playing one another less than a day after the information became public.

GeT_RiGhT purportedly has a financial stake in the Ninjas in Pyjamas organization which he was a part for over seven years, while lurppis owns a share of ENCE despite working for MIBR's parent organization, Immortals Gaming Club.

The news comes weeks after the end of ESL One Rio's first qualifying tournament, Road to Rio. Valve requested that all teams, players, and organizations submit documents stating whether they had any business relations with any other participating teams or tournament organizers.

While the leaked email comes too late to do anything about the concerns fans had during ESL's Road to Rio, the citations come just two weeks ahead of Rio's second Regional Ranking tournament, CS Summit 6.

Valve's history on CSGO's conflict of interests

In a blog post titled "Keeping Things Transparent," Valve announced a new rule stating that teams must disclose any and all business relationships between themselves and other teams and organizers. The move followed controversies surrounding esports organization and tournament organizer RFRSH Entertainment.

RFRSH at one point owned both Team Heroic and Astralis, two Danish CSGO teams that often faced off in regional competitions. While RFRSH later split from Heroic the company found itself in hot water again after launching the BLAST Pro Series, which saw fans complain after Astralis skipped several prestigious tournaments in favor of attending its parent company's events.

Soon after, RFRSH and Astralis split into BLAST Entertainment and the Astralis Group.

Soon after, Valve released the blog stating the disclosure changes. Prior to Valve’s announcement, there was little stopping members of one organization from being financially involved with another.

There has been no official word from those involved, nor is there any evidence that Valve actually required any of those involved to divest or separate from their conflicts, only that "failure to disclose any business with the [tournament organizer] or other participants [would] likely result in disqualification."

The initial ruling failed to establish any firm parameters and had no obvious follow-up from Valve. The publisher seems more committed to this now than it did at the start.