Last month we reported that 25 CS:GO pros had signed a letter criticising the PEA, and yesterday a rumour emerged that players had chosen to play in the ESL Pro League over the PEA North American league. Well, it seems this rumour may have been true, and the representative for the players Scott "SirScoots" Smith has explained the decision online.
To start with, SirScoots explains the history of the situation, the development of the letter, and how it was received, and said: "To their credit, after we released our open letter, the PEA and its team owners did concede that the choice between the PEA and EPL would be the players' to make. We appreciate that, but on a deeper level, the team owners being able to determine the options from which the players can choose is a symptom of a larger problem. As I stated in one of my public comments, "Being able to 'choose' between two options that are not mutually exclusive is an illusion, not actual freedom of choice"."
He then goes on to explain why the players chose the ESL Pro League over the PEA league. "There are two really important things to keep in mind when discussing this issue. The first is that most of the players who signed contracts containing these clauses in question were never told that the clauses could, or would, be used in the way the PEA attempted to use them back in December. Players were mostly either told that they held the final say on where they would play; were under the impression that the clauses were more for scheduling purposes than league selection purposes; or assured that the clauses were there for defensive reasons. Those are all very different from a world in which the clauses are used to force the players out of the biggest Counter-Strike league on the planet."
"The second really important thing to keep in mind when discussing this issue is that, from what we know, almost every PEA team's player contract includes these clauses or ones like them. This raises the question of whether the team owners would have actually removed these clauses from their contracts had the players asked. Over the past couple of weeks, some team owners have made it seem like they would've happily removed the clauses if it had been requested. I, for one, would be leery of these kinds of claims. We have heard, for example, of situations in which players negotiating with PEA teams were told that removing the clauses was not even up for discussion."
SirScoots also discusses the fallout from the letter, referencing in particular SeanGares parting ways with TSM due to his involvement in the letter. "Sticking together after the publication of the open letter, though, was not easy for the players. Some team owners did not initially respect the players' requests to have dialogue go through me. Some team owners approached their players one-on-one in a way that made the players uncomfortable. Most notably, one player was outright removed from his team due to his participation in the open letter," linking to a picture of SeanGares face on Jesus Christ on the cross. "While the team owners did eventually respect the players' wishes to engage in a unified dialogue — and I give the owners credit for that — for the players, it a was a challenge to stick together. Now, it is their responsibility to keep sticking together if they want to have a real say in their future within this industry."
Towards the end of the extensive post, SirScoots writes: "While the players have made a clear choice here, I want to reiterate both on their behalf and for myself that we appreciate everything the PEA teams have done for this industry. The result of this vote does not change that. We all recognise that the players' careers would not be possible without the roles teams play in the industry, and how important it is that teams are able to run their businesses in a way that is financially viable. Our perspective is simply that the best way to make things financially viable — for everyone — is to engage in a truly open, transparent dialogue across the industry as a whole. Right now, we should be focusing on how players, teams, and leagues can work together more closely at the negotiating table, and not on blurring the line between team owner and league operator. In order for all of that to happen, though, the players must first come together on their own. Hopefully, their decision here is a big step in that direction."
So disagreements between the PEA, teams, and players have certainly not been fully resolved, however, SirScoots seems to shed a bit of light on the situation, saying that no malice was intended and that players only wanted a fair say. Either way, there's two sides to this argument, and this is only one perspective, but to have some explanation on why the decision was made is interesting nonetheless.