The introduction of what will become the FLASHPOINT CS:GO league has generated a ton of debate and critique from all ends of the spectrum. Most of the criticism has been about the quality of teams that will participate in FLASHPOINT, now that it’s official that most of the top teams will continue participating in ESL Pro League. While I don’t believe everything FLASHPOINT has done thus far has been seamless, giving them a hard time about the teams that will compete in the league misses the point.
At no point did the organizers of FLASHPOINT claim the league would feature the top teams, nor did they insinuate their team list would look any different than it appears it will end up. It is preposterous to think that a brand new league would be able to pull teams away from a league with deep roots and is entering its 11th season of play. I fail to understand how their prospective team list is a “failure” when the community itself set the expectations in the first place.
I’m not arguing FLASHPOINT hasn’t done anything wrong; in fact I believe they have made a few missteps already. The issues they had with the open online qualifiers was a bad look, despite the fact that it was FACEIT who was in charge of them. Open qualifiers are notoriously tough to orchestrate, but again, that could have been handled better. At the end of the day, FLASHPOINT is somewhat responsible for the way FACEIT handles these situations when it comes to the league. I take less issue than most with the way the league has been announced but I can agree it appears a bit wonky and out of order. Most don’t realize that the ESL Pro League deal getting pushed back held them from getting a team list finalized sooner.
From the first day that I heard about this project, I knew it would require a proof of concept with whichever teams they could get in the league at the start. It will take multiple seasons of execution before word spreads and top teams/players in the world look to join. While this is all still hypothetical, I view the situation similarly to the AUG meta that came and went last year. The gun had existed for years before a couple players realized its true potential and power on CT side. Months later, almost every player began using it like a flock of sheep, whether they wanted to or not. FLASHPOINT on paper is the better league for the players and in this comparison; it is the AUG that is still undiscovered. The difference, though, is that the league and its stakeholders have to deliver on their potential for any of that to happen.
I really don’t blame teams for passing at the first opportunity, especially when you consider the $2 million entry fee. That is a hefty price to pay when ESL sweetened the pot to keep as many teams possible in their league for at least the next three years. In fact, that is something I feel has been overlooked this whole time. Teams clearly used FLASHPOINT to help ensure they got a better deal with ESL. There is a world in which the Louvre agreement looks much more like the Lanxess Agreement did -- which teams hated -- if FLASHPOINT didn’t exist. And even still, FLASHPOINT clearly has merit and was absolutely worth considering if you take Astralis’ term sheet agreement with the league into account.
With that said, I see a world in which many of the non-member ESL teams make the switch to Flashpoint as early as next year, bringing some top-tier player talent with them in the process. The decision makers at Flashpoint are some of the best in the business and the Counter-Strike community often forgets how much can change in a years time. I think the league war is far from over and is only just starting to get interesting.