Astralis and twelve other top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams announced this morning that they have become majority stakeholders in the ESL Pro League.
In an official press release, Astralis revealed that it and the twelve other teams had signed an agreement with ESL just under a month before the start of the league on March 16. The move is a major move in the Counter-Strike ecosystem, as ESL now holds the majority of the world’s top teams. The 13 “founding teams” are as follows:
- Team Liquid
- FaZe Clan
- Evil Geniuses
- Natus Vincere
- G2 Esports
- Team Vitality
- Complexity Gaming
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- ENCE Esports
- 100 Thieves
According to the terms of the deal, participating teams will benefit from a revenue-sharing model that extends outside of Pro League and into ESL’s other tournament offerings, including ESL One Cologne and the IEM Katowice.
“In our case, the players, coaches, and people around the teams have been involved and have contributed to relevant sections of the agreement, and we need to give credit to ESL for listening and bringing new points to the table to fully rework a first draft which had its genesis in 2019,” ESL co-CEO Anders Hørsholt said.
Astralis touted the agreement, saying that the league can now ensure a stable schedule for its players, coaches, and talent. Referred to as the league’s founding members in the release, the teams are guaranteed a spot in “the EPL and all relevant tournaments” for the “long term.”
As for their side of the deal, participating teams are required to compete in any ESL tournaments that they qualify for or are invited to.
ESL Pro League strengthens grip on top CSGO teams
The clause strengthens ESL’s ability to keep the scene’s top talent away from rival franchised league Flashpoint just days after the new North American league finished its open qualifiers.
This latest announcement follows an incident earlier this month when ESL failed to alert 24 teams that it would switch from a 48-team league down to just 24, effectively demoting half of the squads that had earned a position in the league without warning.
With less than two weeks before IEM Katowice, it looks like ESL and its partner teams may have won CSGO’s tournament wars before even officially started.