Valve Bans Franchised ‘Counter
Counter_Strike 2 tournaments will look very different.
Valve has released a statement revealing a new set of rules for competitive Counter-Strike 2 tournaments that will ban franchised leagues and force all payments to teams to be made public.
From 2025 there will be a new rule set that is still in development, but some of the key points have been announced. Most importantly no tournament organiser can have a unique business relationship or conflict of interest with any team that participates in their tournament.
In simple terms, this will outlaw leagues where teams who pay an entry or franchise fee are given a direct invite to the tournament. Competitions such as the ESL Pro League and BLAST circuit, which have partnered teams who share in profits from events, will also fall afoul of this new rule.
Secondly all invites to a tournament must be based on the Valve ranking system, or determined by open qualifiers. Again preventing tournaments from inviting teams they have a business relationship with if they are not strong enough to qualify for the event.
Finally any compensation given to participating teams, including prize pools and any other payments, must be made public. It was recently revealed by journalist Richard Lewis that teams competing in the Gamers8 tournament in Saudi Arabia have the possibility to earn bonus payments based on their social engagement stats around the tournament. Such payments would likely be included in this new rule set, meaning they would have to be made public by organisers.
These rules will come into effect in 2025, as some organisations have long standing contracts that will need to end or be amended to fit the new rules. However, it does look like the big leagues with partnered teams will need to change their systems pretty soon.
The statement comes after reports that Valve is looking to overhaul the pro Counter-Strike scene once CS2 launches. Valve has always had a fairly hands off approach to managing the esports scene, but has always made a point that competition should be merit based and open, rather than the closed systems we see in a lot of other games.
CS2 is expected to launch in the coming weeks after Valve promised a “Summer 2023” release window. After a few months of testing updates to the Limited Test have become more frequent, possibly signalling that a full release is imminent. However, for now the pro scene is still playing on CS:GO, with the top teams in the world preparing to play in the final days of the ESL One Cologne tournament, which is likely to be one of the biggest tournaments of the year.