New Polish Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league ‘ELIGA’ was announced yesterday at a press conference, with representatives laying out plans for a growing, team-owned system. The press conference, livestreamed over Facebook, can be watched in its entirety here.
Confirmed competitors include co-founding members Pride Gaming and Team Kinguin, with fellow Polish organisations Izako Boars, AGO Gaming and Team PACT to be offered a place in the ownership structure after the debut season concludes this November.
Following the initial five teams there will be an additional two spots up for grabs every year through official qualification. New teams will have the option to join the ownership structure and guarantee their position the following year, with no team relegation planned until at least 2019. By 2020, the league aims to be home to a maximum of sixteen teams.
Founder of Team Kinguin, Viktor Wanli, told The Esports Observer that he hoped the plans would help secure the future of Polish esports. “We see the way to develop it is mainly through improved capitalisation of teams themselves,” he said.
“Teams should be able to pay not only a minimum living salary, but they should be able to invest into buyouts, even from abroad. They should be able to create more quality content, and employ professional business management staff to take care of the organisation.”
Any team that can qualify will be able to compete, although they must be legally established as a limited company in order to join the ownership structure – or they can only receive shared distribution from the league’s revenues. According to Viktor, having established, structured organisations join will be “a significant element” in ensuring the success of the model, as they can more quickly capitalise on revenues.
“We see the way to develop it is mainly through improved capitalisation of teams themselves.”
Team-owned leagues are not omnipresent in esports: so what exactly is ELIGA’s function? They will not act as league operators (with the exception of during the inaugural season, which is planned as a proof of concept); instead, they will control the distribution of income, and manage any disputes. ELIGA CEO Jack Paluch is a lawyer and esports veteran who will act as a neutral arbitrator, having already managed an unplanned “test” dispute concerning the handling of a player switch between Pride Gaming and Team Kinguin.
Viktor said that ELIGA will also ensure that teams keep international players at a three-to-two ratio with Polish players, in order to help smaller organisations remain competitive with teams that have more financial clout. “We don’t want a situation where there is one or two top local teams, and the rest of the scene lags extremely behind.”
Esports Insider says: It’s interesting to see esports start to move more towards franchising models, and it certainly appears to favour organisations who might otherwise struggle to find financial stability. A potential point of concern arises out of having one man settle legal disputes, lawyer or not; a independent panel would ease any concerns of bias. Regardless, ELIGA provides a promising platform for Polish Counter-Strike’s future.