Esports Team Owners Form New League With An Eye To UFC-Style Broadcasts
“ Topline: A first-of-its-kind esports league is coming to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the launch of Flashpoint, a series that will be owned by the teams within it—much like the NBA and NFL— with live broadcasts modeled on the UFC and WWE.
Team owners will collectively pay $25 million to participate, a structure that the league hopes will differentiate it from existing publisher-run leagues.
Flashpoint will include 10 founding teams, including Cloud9 (valued by Forbes at $400 million), Immortals Gaming Club ($210 million) and Gen.G ($185 million), along with two outside clubs to be determined by open qualifiers starting February 6.
According to an interview in The Esports Observer, part of the pitch to teams, who may have to decide between different tournament series based on schedule, will be the style of the broadcast itself, which includes popular commentators like Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles and Auguste “Semmler” Massonnat.
Leading the more adult-oriented broadcasts as creative director is controversial esports commentator Duncan “Thorin” Shields, who in the past has been criticized for racist, xenophobic and ableist insults, and other such antics:
The motivation behind the league is to create more sustainability in order to attract longer-term investments, though CS: GO has faced difficulty in the past attracting and keeping sponsors given its terrorist-centric premise.
Beginning in March, the series will be split between two seasons and played in a live studio, with its prize pool totaling $2 million.
Key Background: The idea of a team-owned esports league has been kicked around for years. Major publishers like Activision Blizzard require teams to buy into their exclusive leagues, like the reported $25 million to enter the new Call of Duty League. Valve, the studio behind CS: GO, takes a more off-hands approach, allowing organizers like ESL to schedule tournaments throughout the year. Flashpoint is promising higher revenue share in cutting out a third-party organizer, including the “highest revenue share in esports” to players.
What To Watch For: If Flashpoint can accomplish what it’s setting out to do. Margins in esports are tight or even non-existent as is, and with established tournament organizers already operating in the space like ESL and Turner Broadcasting’s ELEAGUE, it may be a tough play to attract brands with its UFC-style broadcasts. It’ll also be interesting to see if other top esports organizations like Team Liquid (a CS: GO powerhouse valued at an estimated $320 million) end up joining.
Further Reading: When it comes to esports earnings, right now it pays more to simply Livestream at home and nab individual sponsorships, as seen with the estimated $17 million earned by Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins.”