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Team-owned eSports org suspends CS:GO league after a majority of players bail

The team-owned Professional eSports Association says it will suspend plans for its first tournament series after a majority of players voted to play in the ESL Pro League's CS:GO tourneys instead.

The team-owned Professional eSports Association (PEA) has told Polygon that it will suspend plans to operate its very first tournament series (for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) after a majority of participating players voted to participate in the ESL Pro League's CS:GO tourney series instead.

This is a big deal because, as Polygon rightly points out, it's a very public display of the power of collective bargaining in the business of eSports.  PEA was formed in September as a team-owned league with the stated mission of sharing its profits with players and providing them with benefits like health insurance; the suspension of its inaugural ten-week CS:GO series seems likely to have significant repercussions for the organization.

The story of how it happened is a bit complicated: in December 25 players with PEA contracts backed an open letter to PEA (written and presented by longtime eSports player Scott Smith) accusing the organization of seeking to diminish their voting rights and exclude them from competing concurrently in both PEA and EPL CS:GO tourneys.

A PEA representative quickly published a public response sympathizing with the player's concerns and promising to bring all concerned parties together to jointly decide on what to do. PEA players were evidently asked to decide (via vote) on whether to play for PEA or EPL -- and the majority voted EPL.

In another open letter published yesterday, Smith wrote that "the Counter-Strike players of [PEA member teams] Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, Immortals, NRG Esports, Team Liquid, and Team SoloMid have unanimously decided to compete in ESL Pro League (EPL) over the Professional Esports Association (PEA) — a league founded, owned and operated by their team owners." He then went on to make a case for why the vote made sense, noting in the process that players on PEA member teams were perhaps naive in signing contracts that allowed PEA to keep them from playing in other leagues.

"We remarked in our letter two weeks ago that the industry might now be at a point at which it’s just too big for trust alone to reasonably protect everyone’s interests," wrote Smith. "Perhaps this is the larger conclusion that the players need to reach after experiencing the events of the past two weeks." 

Given that the suspended CS:GO series was PEA's sole (public) venture for 2017, the immediate future of the league remains unclear. Gamasutra has reached out to league representatives for further details.

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