Report Shows FLASHPOINT Withholds Massive CSPPA Payment
The Counter-Strike Pro Player’s Association (CSPPA) is apparently rather upset with B-Site and the FLASHPOINT League over the not so small issue of a missed payment of $165,000 worth of image rights. This was agreed upon by both parties in exchange for using the player’s names, images, and more to promote the league. While this is a new sort of agreement for esports, it is common in other sports like Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and others between the league and their player associations.
This case is an interesting case study for esports and could easily go on to set precedents with not only other leagues within CSGO, but for other games as well, such as League of Legends, which already has a Player’s Association in North America. It will also surely be used as a legal case study by the hundreds of esports lawyers and the Esports Bar Association, who are likely watching this case with rapt interest.
What Was Flashpoint Supposed to Give to CSPPA Players?
Documents released last week by Dexerto showed that CSPPA would be entering into a partnership with the FLASHPOINT League, B-Site’s attempt at making a weekly CSGO league work while also focusing on a more adult audience. This agreement would run for three years, and include things like a minimum of $2,000,000 in prizing for the league, an insurance fund for players that have to retire due to health reasons, a better work/life balance for players, and other quality of life improvements.
As the first part of this agreement, Flashpoint was due to give the CSPPA a payment of $165,000 USD, but allegedly declined due to a number of factors, including the CSPPA’s lack of a ranking system, the allegation that the CSPPA caused Flashpoint to lose money, and many other issues detailed in a letter obtained by DBLTAP’s Jarek “DeKay” Lewis.
The CSPPA has itself issued a response directly to DeKay’s report.
“As a Danish legal council to CSPPA, I can confirm that FLASHPOINT has failed to honor its obligation to make a payment of $165,000 USD under a Danish law license agreement between FLASHPOINT and CSPPA dated March 6,” Martin Sahl Pedersen, Partner and head of sports and IP at Kromann Reumert said. “This is because Flashpoint’s obligation to pay under the Danish law license agreement is solely conditional on the CSPPA and the CSPPA players providing a license to FLASHPOINT to use certain collective intellectual property rights of the players in connection with the broadcast and marketing of the FLASHPOINT League. Flashpoint has used this license and is therefore required to pay.”
Additionally, Dexerto obtained responses from various members of the CSPPA about the leaked letter detailing what the partnership would entail.
“Regarding funding, we are not able to comment on this specifically. However license agreements between a players’ association and a league/teams are common practice in players’ associations across the world,” TACO said. “ In fact, it is how most of the big players’ associations are operating today, e.g. NFLPA or MLBPA. None of the tournament organizers who have entered into an agreement with us has any say in how the CSPPA spends its funds or operates. It is entirely up to the CSPPA board and ultimately the CSPPA membership to decide. Any funds will be spent in accordance with the overall purpose of the CSPPA which is to improve conditions for players in professional CSGO.”
Additionally, the CSPPA detailed exactly how and why they are entering into agreements with leagues in the first place – something that they haven’t exactly disclosed publicly, despite also being partnered with ESL, MTG, and Dreamhack.
“The CSPPA enters into collective agreements with tournament organizers and teams in order to improve working conditions for players. This is a key part of the work that the CSPPA does. Such collective agreements are in line with similar collective agreements entered into by players’ associations in sport across the world. In the US such collective agreements between a league/teams and a players’ association are actually required by to meet standards of anti-trust laws and labor laws in many cases depending on the setup of the league,” Jonathan “Elige” Jablanowski of Team Liquid and Co-Chairman of the CSPPA board told Dexerto’s Richard Lewis.
“Any decisions on matters such as collective agreements are made by the CSPPA board of players after consulting with the membership in accordance with the CSPPA Articles of Association. The CSPPA engage with the membership on a daily basis,” Elige continued. “During the past year we have had multiple calls and in-person meetings with the players of more than 40 different teams. In addition, we have set up a group of currently 51 “player representatives” (which we are expanding) who are tasked with giving input to the CSPPA on behalf of themselves and their teammates and be involved in all areas of the work that the CSPPA does. With regards to certain tournaments the CSPPA has also set up player representative groups with players from each team competing in the tournament in order to handle any issues that might arise in a specific tournament. This is how the CSPPA involves the membership on a day to day basis including regarding issues of collective bargaining. I can tell you that we have a lot of discussions with our membership before we players in the board decides to enter into an agreement.”
What Does This Mean for Esports as a Whole?
This case could easily set a precedent in other CSGO tournaments (and indeed, other esports events in general) that player associations will be able to negotiate for image rights deals. This is a big step for esports as a whole because these agreements are usually made between teams, publishers, and leagues, with players being represented by their teams and paid salary. As this case cuts out the middle man, it’s a big step for player’s rights in esports and could eventually bleed over to other games that are adjacent to CSGO that these teams also compete in.