ESL Gaming have announced today the extension of their partnership agreement with 12 of the founding teams who signed the original Louvre Agreement in February 2020, as well as the two latest additions to the agreement BIG and FURIA, who were announced in October 2021. The Louvre Agreement was announced as a partnership which focussed on a collective effort between ESL and the partner teams in an attempt to improve monetization and to establish a new governance model around ESL Pro League. Of the founding members, 100 Thieves is the only organization which has not extended the agreement following their departure from Counter-Strike in October 2020.
Notably absent from the agreement for now is Heroic who were initially announced alongside BIG and FURIA. This occurred however as a result of “the timing of the ESIC inquiry” into the team, with Heroic’s “official start date being delayed until the second half of 2022”. Although unclear as to the reasons behind it, two notable teams who are not partner teams as of now are Gambit, who spent majority of 2021 in the HLTV top 5 teams, and Virtus.pro who were consistently in the top 10 for most of the year
An interesting point which was made in part of ESL’s press release stated that the extension will include “a tangible commitment and redoubling of efforts in the North American scene.” It is no secret that the North American Counter-Strike scene has been in dire straits throughout the past two years. Tier 1 teams such as Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses have spent most of their time playing in European tournaments in order to remain competitive internationally, while apart from Extra Salt and now the rumoured Complexity, North American teams such as Bad News Bears and Party Astronauts have struggled to find an organization to support them. If ESL does follow up on this commitment and puts a sizable effort into NA, this could be a positive and much needed step in the right direction toward rebuilding the struggling scene.
Another element that is said to be introduced following the extension is “a forum where the viability of new joint ventures, such as a CS:GO-focussed NFT strategy that can be further discussed.” This comes off the back of the recent announcement by ESL, in conjunction with 8 of the partner teams, that saw the launch of an exclusive NFT collection. The forum has presumably been introduced as a result of the fan backlash that came as a result of the announcement.
Alex lnglot, Commissioner of ESL Pro League, stated that despite the challenges experienced in the last two years, he was “proud that together we have created something so dynamic for the CS:GO ecosystem” and that the partnership is a “manifestation of a joint desire to create a sustainable yet ambitious framework within CS:GO — one that can serve to positively impact and influence the rest of the ecosystem.”
Inglot also went on to say that “this extension was agreed on unanimously” with Ralf Reichert, Co-CEO of ESL, adding that “the teams have brought the ESL Pro League to a whole new level, and having this agreement extended ensures a balanced governance and decision-making infrastructure for years to come.”