ESL Pro League And Prominent Esports Teams Ink Monumental ‘Louvre Agreement’
Though competitive gaming has been around for quite some times, e-sports as a business is still maturing at a relatively deliberate pace – but a recently announced alliance between the world’s largest and longest-standing e-sports network/tournament organizer, ESL, and 13 of the most popular and successful e-sports teams marks a huge step forward to ensuring long-term sustainability of the business of e-sports.
In spite of the massive growth of e-sports, the professional e-sports space has remained largely fractured up to this point with scores of teams, tournament organizers, and leagues cropping up around about half a dozen game titles. To make matters more complicated, unlike traditional sports where the games themselves are in the public domain such that anyone with the proper equipment and access to facilities can play, the games in e-sports are owned by the game publishers who maintain outsized influence and control over how and by whom their titles are used.
As a result, e-sports teams maintain additional and separate teams under their own umbrella to play a specific title and enter into tournaments on a somewhat ad-hoc basis. Many of these same teams are also member of “hub and spoke” leagues owned by game publishers like The Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, which resemble traditional sports leagues in terms of both centralized governance and the selling of franchises.
This lack of centralization across the world of e-sports has raised serious questions about the long-term economic sustainability of e-sports as most of the money pouring into the sport is largely coming by way of sponsorships from various brands. Ultimately, there needs to be consolidation and a blood-letting of teams and leagues that aren’t profitable as well as some sort of detente with the game publishers that keeps them from pulling the proverbial “plug” if and when the businesses predicated upon their intellectual property become substantially successful without cutting them in.
The existence of these structural obstacles within the world of e-sports is exactly why this deal between ESL and the list of teams that includes a well-represented swath of the most successful and well-heeled teams in e-sports, including the top-earning team, Evil Geniuses, is so consequential. “The Louvre Agreement,” as it’s being called, gives these 13 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (”CS:GO”) teams a majority stake in the ESL Pro League which includes a share of both revenue and profits generated from the events.