An open letter from professional CS:GO players about the Professional Esports Association (PEA) has been released online, explaining their issues with the PEA and the team owners, who they claim are acting against their own interests.
25 players have signed the letter, which is presented by Scott "SirScoots" Smith, and these come from a range of teams, including Cloud9, TSM, Immortals, and more. One of the central issues is that they are being forced into playing in the upcoming PEA tournament, but not being allowed to compete in others. Despite the PEA, which formed earlier this year, offering one million US dollars in their league for North America, not being allowed to compete in other tournaments reduces player income.
Here is a quote from the letter about the reduced options: "In a profession where so much of your income depends on your performance and brand exposure, being able to choose where you play is vital. We expressed our disagreement to the PEA and our owners, and pointed out that what was now happening contradicted just about everything they had said back in September, but they still stuck to their position. As Jason Katz, who had described himself a few months before as a trustworthy and unbiased party, told one group of players: "Things change"."
The biggest thing that the players are worried on missing out on is the ESL Pro League. "We started hearing rumours that some of us were about to be told we would have to withdraw from the next season of ESL Pro League. We also heard rumours that the PEA and EPL actually had no active or ongoing discussions to ensure that they wouldn't conflict with each other. This was contrary to what we had been told back in September and October, and it was at this point that we realised we needed help." The Pro League provides a huge amount of income, hence the worry from players.
Another big criticism is that, despite promises of transparency, this has not been the case. To quote directly from the letter again, "as much as the PEA made it seem like the project was a collaboration, we actually weren't really involved in its planning at all. Most of the players weren't even informed of the PEA's existence by their owners until the night before it was announced. Jason Lake's celebratory Tweet of a group picture seemed like it was implying that the players and team owners were completely on the same page, but Pimp and hazed, for example, didn't even know what the PEA was until the night before that photo was taken. Looking back on it, they kind of feel like they were just carted in for a photo op to make the league look good."
The PEA Rules Committee also comes under fire, as three votes for the players make up the 10 available, and PEA League Commissioner Jason Katz receives two of them, meaning he has a large sway of votes.
SirScoots contacted the PEA and the team owners earlier this month, and Katz said to him that either Pro League could accept the proposal put forward to them ("The PEA proposed a plan in which EPL would be required to "vacate" North America, essentially leaving the region in the PEA's control"), or the PEA would force players to withdraw from the Pro League.
SirScoots sent a letter later that explained that the players would not be willing to compete in the PEA League if it excluded them from the Pro League, and despite arrangements being made for a phone meeting, PEA ended negotiations with ESL allegedly without consulting the players.
It's pretty dramatic that players have come out and openly criticised their own teams in order to get better conditions, however, time will tell how this particular situation resolves itself.