On paper, the World Esports Association isn’t the worst idea ever. Essentially, it wants to function as a regulatory body for eSports, an independent third-party that can moderate and create rules where needed. Problem is, its internal structure is a mess—a potentially very biased one.
WESA is half-owned by the ESL, the world’s largest eSports league, despite claiming to be independent, and other leagues like Major League Gaming, CEVO, PGL, and Gfinity are conspicuously absent from its table. On top of that, its member council is made up of eight top eSports teams. Essentially, this select handful of teams (and maybe a few more) will have a chance to shape the rules of tournaments they compete in. WESA has sworn up and down that impropriety won’t be an issue, but they’ve failed to convincingly prove that safeguards are in place.
Last week, we reported on a rumor that pro team FaZe Clan was getting cold feet. Now that rumor has come true. According to ESPN, they cited a lack of transparency and a need for more North American teams as motivating factors.
“After the WESA press conference, we raised the same concerns again and it was the first time we saw the external messaging and communication from WESA—and it concerned us,” FaZe said. “It doesn’t lack big metaphors of what it could be, but it lacks transparency on how to get there and that is the main reason for why we are leaving WESA.”
They noted that, contrary to previous reports, they didn’t have to pay a $200,000 fee to leave. Despite all the hub-bub, they apparently haven’t made an enemy of the ESL. “WESA and ESL are two different organizations,” FaZe wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. “ESL has been good to us, showed understanding and assured us that even if we aren’t in WESA, we’ll be invited to their leagues and tournaments. In other words: We are leaving on good terms.”
They added that they think the underlying idea is solid, even if its construction is akin to a moldy rope bridge over river of bubbling lava. “Building a league system with a governing body is interesting and maybe even what e-sports needs to take the next step forward,” they wrote.
The question now is whether or not other teams will follow suit and get out while the getting’s good. At the moment, WESA is still comprised of seven of Counter-Strike’s heaviest hitters: Fnatic, Natus Vincere, EnVyUs, Virtus.Pro, G2 Esports, mousesports, and Ninjas in Pyjamas. I’d be shocked if their members and managers weren’t also concerned about aspects of WESA’s rickety structure. Will they stay, or will they go?
Despite all the controversy, WESA plans to continue chugging along. In a statement expressing regret (but also understanding) over FaZe’s departure, they said:
“WESA’s next important steps surround players and overall more tangible rules and structure. This includes an election of the Players Council, the appointment of players in the Executive Board, the formalization of the Arbitration Court to prevent future wrongdoings between teams and/or/towards players, and expanding the number of members of the association. You will be the first to know about any of these updates as soon as they occur.”
In other words, it sounds like they’re sticking to their original course, gratuitous use of impenetrable insider jargon and all. I’m sure this will end well.
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