Sources: ESL Seeking 4-Year ESL Pro League Agreements; Terms Allegedly Remain the Same Despite Valve Ruling

ESL has not changed its terms to accommodate Valve's exclusivity clause, according to sources
ESL has not changed its terms to accommodate Valve's exclusivity clause, according to sources / Photo by Bart Oerbekke/ESL

ESL wants teams to commit to four-year deals for the ESL Pro League, though its terms remain the same in spite of Valve's recent blog post addressing CS:GO exclusivity in September, according to multiple sources.

ESL will host a summit later this month that includes multiple prominent Counter-Strike organizations in an attempt to sign them to what ESL is calling the “Lanxess Agreement.” The need to lock down teams for future ESL Pro League seasons comes as a result of new information about the unannounced “B Site” league that is set to begin in March. 

In multiple documents sent to DBLTAP, the length of the proposed agreement is four years. Multiple sources have indicated the ESL Pro League term sheet still restricts teams from playing in leagues longer than 14 days in duration, just like it did when some of them were published by Dexerto in September. Those same sources have also indicated that ESL has yet to formally present Valve with the circuit concept or its associated terms at this time, which ESL denies.

"It is not at all unusual for ESL to meet with various parties," said Ulrich Schulze, ESL Senior Vice President of Product, in a statement provided to DBLTAP. "We would prefer not to make a habit of commenting on every meeting that may or may not take place. However, as a blanket statement, everything material we do in CS:GO is known to and discussed with Valve, and that includes respecting their positions and guidelines when it comes to the conditions of participating in tournaments." 

Two weeks after the September Dexerto report, Valve published a blog post titled "Keeping Things Competitive" reinforcing the publisher's stance on exclusivity and shared ownership. In reference to exclusivity, Valve wrote: "At this time we are not interested in providing licenses for events that restrict participating teams from attending other events." It is unclear if this was a direct response to the report or a general statement due to the rumors of a new league in the works and possible changes for ESL Pro League.

It's also unclear if the current ESL Pro League agreement would violate Valve's position, though it uses terms that would restrict the length of events or leagues in which teams would be allowed to play. The terms also limit the number of days team can participate in a tournament per calendar year at a total of 60, not counting Minors, Majors, or ESL Pro League. For reference, Evil Geniuses, as one example, participated in offline tournaments spanning 73 days in 2019.

The future structure of ESL Pro League is unknown at this time, with at least two teams from the North American region set to play in B Site for 2020 in Cloud9 and MIBR. ESEA announced last week that the winners of European and North American Mountain Dew League will no longer directly qualify for ESL Pro League like they had previously. Instead eight teams from four regions will fight for two ESL Pro League spots at the ESEA Global Challenge, which makes it seem as if two teams from the same region could now qualify for ESL Pro League. If so, that would indicate a potential new format for the league as a whole.