A group of North American esports organizations have banded together to form the Professional eSports Association (PEA), a new team-owned esports league. Its first tournament will be for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Consisting of Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming, Immortals, NRG eSports, and compLexity Gaming, the PEA will commence its league’s first season in January, with a $500,000 prize pool up for grabs. Fully funded by the teams themselves, the association has promised “at least $1,000,000” in prizes for the first year of its operation. Jason Katz, formerly of Championship Gaming Series, Riot Games, and Azubu, will be serving as commissioner of the league.
Most interestingly, the PEA will share 50% of its profits with players and owners, marking a distinct shift away from the way many esports leagues are run. “The PEA will also provide a suite of financial benefits and services to the players, including retirement and investment planning, health insurance and more,” says the organization. What’s more, casters will be receiving equal pay to players.
The PEA will also consist of a Rules Committee, with player representatives given the power to provide input on everything from tournament formats to rules to prizing distributions. They’ll also be providing consultants to players to secure their financial futures.
“We will have the highest level of transparency in the industry,” said Katz on a press call.
In a release sent to press, Team Liquid co-CEO Steve Arhancet said “Publisher leagues and third-party tournament organizers aren’t sharing profits with the players and teams. This is hindering the potential for eSports to rival other professional sports leagues, where players and teams are all aligned to put on the best show year after year.”
In a press call on Thursday, Katz said the teams within the PEA will be collectively bargaining to be a part of the CS:GO league the ECS.
If successful, the formation of the PEA could be an incredibly important moment for esports as a whole. Team-owned leagues are few and far between in the space, and if done properly, this could set a precedent for esports leagues going forward. This could even be the beginning of teams collectively bargaining for rule changes in leagues like Riot Games’ LCS or Turner Sports’ ELeague.
Taylor Cocke is very intrigued to see where this goes in the long run, but player support in the short term is always a good thing. Follow him on Twitter @taylorcocke.