BLAST Premier Modifies Prize Structure to Benefit Participating CSGO Teams
BLAST Premier has dramatically reduced the amount of prizing (by almost 50%) being awarded to teams at their events for the 2020-2021 season, instead using those funds to go directly to teams for participating in the events.
While this might seem like a good move on paper and would give teams more money to invest in their CSGO teams, it also means that players have less opportunity to earn prizing at BLAST Premier events, something that teams do not take much of a cut of at present. The community, especially the Counter-Strike Pro Player’s Association, has taken umbrage with this move.
BLAST Wants to “Protect Esports Teams and Employees”
The move, according to BLAST’s release is meant to provide a “more sustainable model for the broader industry,” placing the need for this change squarely on COVID-19 – which may or may not be the real reason and just a scapegoat, if community sources are to be believed.
“Investing in the ecosystem enables all organizations, whether new or established, to develop infrastructure around the players,” JMR Luna, CEO of OG Esport, commented on the change. “This change is crucial for the long term sustainability of our ecosystem.”
Team owners have long bemoaned the amount of investment owning a CSGO team requires, with many teams having to pay absorbent salaries, travel for teams, among other expenses. Having a tournament organizer pay them to play is, of course, beneficial to the teams. If BLAST were paying this amount entirely out of pocket and not revising a prize structure to do so, it would be an entirely good thing, even.
“We partner alongside the most progressive brands in esports, many of whom have also felt the impact of Covid-19,” Robbie Douek, BLAST CEO, said. “We believe this realignment will help sustain the broader ecosystem and ensure that we can all emerge stronger together.”
Teams and BLAST may emerge stronger, but this is a case of robbing players of potential earnings, especially with no guarantee that any of these fees will be passed on to players of the member organizations. BLAST also said that non-member teams would be paid for their participation.
In 2020, the Blast Premier prize pool for events is being reduced by $1,150,000, and in 2021, it will be reduced by $1,775,000. A total of $4.2 million will still be awarded in prize money, but this is a reduction of nearly 3 million that players will not be receiving directly from BLAST.
Here is the new prize breakdown:
- Fall Series 2020 – $150,000
- Fall Showdown 2020 – $150,000
- Fall Final 2020 – $425,000
- Global Final 2020 – $1,000,000
- Spring Series 2021 – $150,000
- Spring Showdown 2021 – $162,500
- Spring Final 2020 – $425,000
- Fall Series 2021 – $150,000
- Fall Showdown 2021 – $162,500
- Fall Final 2021 – $425,000
- Global Final 2021 – $1,000,000
CSPPA Dissents, Says Players Weren’t Notified
Of course, with players not notified of the action that BLAST and their teams were about to take, BLAST is playing a dangerous game. If there’s one thing that should be sacred in esports, it’s the prize money that players get to take home – and it could lead to further action from the CSPPA. The player’s association has not yet commented on their possible actions, but it’s entirely plausible that CSPPA players could refuse to play in these events, leading to yet another crisis in CSGO, so soon after the coaching crisis which is still ongoing.
“The decision to reduce the prize money in BLAST tournaments has been made by BLAST and the member teams unilaterally without consulting the CSPPA or the players,” the CSPPA said in a statement on Twitter. “For the CSPPA it is important to ensure the sustainablily of the ecosystem. But players need to be included as key stakeholders in such decisions! The CSPPA board is discussing this issue currently and we will initiate discussions with BLAST as soon as possible.”
The CSPPA’s statement was supplemented by Scott “SirScoots” Smith, advisor to the CSPPA and long-time industry veteran and watchdog.
“So full of shit. They were already trying to shift money from their prize pool to give more to teams before Covid existed. Dangled the $ to get the players excited, then yanked it with a bunch with lies. Nothing surprises me anymore,” Scott “SirScoots” Smith, advisor to the CSPPA said on Twitter. “TO’S and teams colluding to take prize money from players and blaming the pandemic to do it while they were actually discussing the idea pre-Covid is just par for the course around here. But sure, keep trusting the bullshit tournament orgainzers and teams spew in public.”
The results of this could have lasting ramifications for esports, as if it goes through without a hitch, teams and TOs will likely be emboldened to try similar strategies with prizing going to teams rather than the players themselves in the future, at least in part, to help with operations. While that could be a benefit for players in the long-run, in the short term, they likely will see it as money being taken directly out of their pockets and into the pockets of owners, further fueling an already sometimes adversarial relationship.