eSports gets its first Team Union, and it’s about time

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Every profession, be it related to sports or not, has a union which protects those involved. In sports the unions aim to promote fair policies in every aspect of the game, and after months of speculation eSports teams have banded together to form the first eSports Team Union. It’s safe to assume some sort of union has always existed when looking at professional tournaments, who would need to meet the demands of top teams if they wanted them to attend their events. In the past these organizers would confer in private with teams, but now their demands are going public in an effort to grow the organization of events.

union

Late last week an email was sent out by CEO of Natus Vincere, Alexander Kokhanovskyy, to all major tournament bodies detailing the proposals of almost every major eSports organization in the world. In the email we see the attendance of Natus Vincere, Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9, Virtus.Pro, Team SoloMid, Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Titan and EnvyUS. The detailed email was made public by E-Frag, which has you’re able to read below.

”Hi everyone, my name is Alexander Kokhanovskyy and I’m CEO of Na`Vi. I’m writing on behalf of teams union, which include Na`Vi, Team Liquid, CLG, Cloud9, VP, TSM, fnatic, NiP, Titan and EnVyUs. E-Sports has been developing rapidly for past few years and we want to establish more professional connection between top teams and big e-sports tournament & leagues organizers. All things listed in this e-mail applied from 1st of January 2016. This e-mail includes representatives of ESL, Dreamhack, Starladder, Faceit, PGL, MLG, CEVO, Joindota, Dotacinema, One Game Agency (DotaPit & CounterPit), ESEA, ESWC, Dreamz Media, BTS, Fragbite, Gfinity. Finally all of you are connected and you can “meet” each other. If you are not a right person for this type of information please pass it to proper people in your company.

Participation policy 2016:
We will decline all Dota 2 and CS:GO pure online events (without LAN Finals) invitations. The one and only exception will be US teams in CS:GO due to lack of LAN events. But they will set a minimum amount of prize money around 30.000$ USD for 1-2 months League and 10.000$ for 3-4 days event.

What kind online events we are talking about:

– Showmatches (except of sponsors events, for example G2A showmatch NAVI vs. Cloud9)
– 1-2 day online tournaments with 4-8 teams playing – King of the Hill, Zotac, etc.
– 2-3 months online leagues – Dotapit, XMG Captains Draft, GOCL etc.
The minimum amount of prize money for CS:GO will be 75.000$ excluding travel support
The minimum amount of prize money for Dota2 will be 100.000$ including in-game tickets, but excluding travel support

Travel support:
– Travel support should be completely separated from prize money
– Tournaments should provide a full travel support for Dota2 and CS:GO players + manager/coach, 6 in total.
– Tournaments should provide a full travel support for Hearthstone players
– Tournaments should provide a partly-covered travel support for Heroes of the storm players + manager/coach, 6 in total

Tournaments will have such options:
Option A: Paying for tickets (economy or higher with convenient connections and layover time) and hotels (4 stars or higher) prior to the event
Option B: Sending a travel support payment 7 days after event ends. Payment depends on the team origin region:
– EU/CIS – US should be 12000$ or 2000$ per player in HS, 6000$ per HotS team
– EU – EU should be 4000$ or 650$ per player in HS, 2000$ per HotS team
– CIS – CIS should be 3000$ or 500$ per player in HS, 1500$ per HotS team
– US – US should be 6000$ or 1000$ per player in HS, 3000$ per HotS team
– EU – CIS should be 6000$ or 1000$ per player in HS, 3000$ per HotS team
Option C: Combination of both

Media reports by teams
To increase overall value of events as well as media reach we are glad to do promo activities and provide media reports after each event. Each report will include:
– Website news about event (link, screenshot, news views or/and daily unique visitors during news date)
– Social media posts (matches, updates, info, etc.) in FB, VK, Twitter with hash-tag #teamonevent, i.e. #naviondhs15 (link, screenshot, posts views, likes, shares and comments)
– Embedding tournament live broadcasting on website and social media (link, screenshot, website major stats during those days, social media posts views, likes, shares and comments)
– Event promo video, i.e. highlights from online stages (if any – link, views, likes)
– Event coverage on website (optional)
You should receive such reports in PDF/PPT 14 days after event ends.
Media report by tournaments
To increase teams promotion and have a possibility to add such data in sponsors report we want to ask for such options:
– Event overall details (date, location, etc.)
– Tournaments standings/placements and prize money won
– Event pictures (10-12 in .rar)
– Teams pictures (all our teams that are on the event,2-3 photos per team in .rar)
– Event sponsors
– Broadcasting languages and studio
– Event visitors
– Broadcasting stats (online and LAN, for each unique viewers, views, hours watched, concurrent viewers)
– Broadcasting geo-stats
Such report should be available in PDF/PPT 14 days after event ends.

Additional Dota2 / CS:GO teams requirements (please read that as recommendation for HoTS/HS):
– Events should fill Tournament rider (see attached) prior to every event and send it to all teams in the group
– Transportation from/to airport
– Collect and store team banking details prior to the event. Just confirm with CEO/COO/Head Manager that bank details are same as they were on last event. Please don’t confirm that only with team manager.
– Penalizing teams and players for not obeying event rules (causing delays, misbehave, etc.) by cutting off prize money
Additional Dota2 / CS:GO players requirements: (please read that as recommendation for HoTS/HS)
– Prize money should be paid not later than 3 months after event ends.
– Transportation from hotel to venue and back (if venue is far)
– If 6 players are travelling we are expecting 3 rooms with 2 double-beds in each
– Dedicated bathroom for players with no access for fans/crowd
– Not more than 1x BO3 + 1x BO5 per day
– If possible, equal conditions to all teams participating  (avoid match-ups too early if team left venue at 2:00 am, same warmup/rest time, etc.)
– Provide a good seats (comfortable chairs such as DXracer) and enough space for each player (tables at least 1.2m x 0.8m per player)
– Players lounge with no access for crowd, practice area and food is warmly welcome

Hope for fruitful cooperation in 2016!”

The demands are pretty steep, if you’ve taken the time to read them, and there has not been a response yet from any major organization.

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road-to-world-cup-esl-one-frankfurt-2015

Should South Africa follow suit?

A Team Union in South Africa would be great. Naturally we would not have similar demands, as we really need all the exposure and practice we can get to grow our scene, but there are a few points worth looking at. Specifically looking at LANs, venues, broadcasting and media coverage. As a broadcaster the amount of times I’ve had to do all the setup and use my own equipment for a live event is just shocking. Growth of competitive eSports comes from coverage and the only way we will grow in numbers and participation is if we nip all those little problems in the bud.

I’ve been to an inordinate number of LANs that were poorly organized, lacked the proper infrastructure, where the administration was handled by incompetent people and technical difficulties would delay proceedings by hours. These are the sorts of things which should never happen at a live event, and it’s about time we spoke up about it.

The other issue is prize money, which is utterly atrocious. Of course, there are tons of factors to consider, but when it comes to LAN events, there are changes that need to be made.

For example: Flying a team down for a LAN tournament (when costs are not covered by the tournaments) is sometimes upwards of R12 000 (including accommodation). The average prize pool in South Africa is often R10 000 for the first place team, which barely covers the costs and awards each player very little to write home about. We will never compete globally if our players are not being rewarded for the hard work they put in.

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Of course, a union brings with it its own pitfalls, and opens the union and its members up to competition law. 

This is just a brief overview of some of the important issues in South African gaming, do you think we need a Team Union?

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Last Updated: October 5, 2015

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit’s esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere – but my work here is independent of that.

  • Pariah

    Really? What about us creative professionals who’ve needed a union for nearly 2 decades in this country, and are still subject to the whims of whatever each employer decides. Want to earn money? LOL. Want reasonable working hours? LOLOL. Oh, you want to be treated like a human being? Dafuq. You creatives so funny, always so high and shit.

    Disclaimer: I’m jaded and cynical and can often be safely ignored. 🙂

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      tl;dr *ignores*

      I had to.

      • Pariah

        You didn’t have to add that 2nd line. 😉

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          I felt bad saying it. 😉

          Mostly because even though I’m in a different industry I feel your pain.

    • Hammersteyn

      I drink to this, heck I sometimes drink everyday thanks to my awesome job.

      • Pariah

        Sometimes I wish I enjoyed drinking, tbh.

        • Hammersteyn

          It’s fun with friends that hang out in puns during rugby. Also it’s a nice way to kill the brain after a long day at the office. but that’s me

    • HairyEwok

      New move…. Oh would you look at that, the creative tap has just run dry, refill with some off time please.

  • VampyreSquirrel

    This can, and quite possibly will be a bad thing for eSports world wide. But I’ll wait and see what happens.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    A lot there about transport & accommodation which I don’t think is really a league’s problem unless they’re performing exhibition matches at the league’s behest. However having a union is a good thing, gives them leverage to negotiate around that and the other issues they’ve raised.

  • Lardus-For the Emperor!

    4 star hotels? Seriously? 3 star hotels are normally more than sufficient! Wow. Will read more of the demands a bit later.

  • Guild

    I foresee more strikes and toyi-toying ahead…….”We demand Fiber for our players to perform” 😛

    • Pariah

      *Fibre to their homes

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        But if they send them Kellogg’s Special K they’ll complain it’s not the ketamine they expected.

        • Pariah

          Ketamine? What Tik are you smoking bru?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            My reference is crystal clear, just do the meth. ;P

  • Hammersteyn

    Union is a dirty word. Except if you belong to one.

  • HairyEwok

    Good thing this Union has nothing to do with SA. They’ll just strike the whole time asking for better gameplay and bigger prize pools.

  • string_slinger

    ‘Penalizing teams and players for not obeying event rules (causing delays, misbehave, etc.) by cutting off prize money’

    Funny this. If you want to be treated like a professional, behave like one. Pro football players get fines for bad behaviour, as it brings the sport into disrepute. Why should e-sports be any different…

    As for travel support, I equate e-sports to Tennis. You want to do it for a living, you need to do well. Need to win money to pay for playing professionally. E-sports are competitive sports, not exibition performances. Making it in any sport professionally is hard. UEFA doesn’t pay for Man Untd’s air tickets and accoms to play EU matches. The club does. If you want a professional scene, you need to get your business model in order – that includes tournaments, winning, merchandise, etc. It’s why the small footballs teams can afford the mediocre players, and the big ones can afford the expensive players. The big ones arent always successful, but they have their plan in order, which is why they can do it for a living. I know football is 100 years old, so the analogy isn’t perfect, and obviously e-sports isnt there yet. Most of these expectations are fair and well, but some of these have very little foundation in reality. Clearly tournaments have a way go re maturity, but now the same can be said for the teams.

    And you cant dictate prize pool, a tournament is what a tournament is. Basically you’re saying if it isn’t x amount, we wont play. Then dont play, a lot of other team will fill the spaces. Thats just ego. How does that belong in a unionised standards communication. EVERY sport has big tournaments, and small ones. Just decline an invite if a prize isn’t worth playing for.

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