Fundamentally, the purpose and the foundation of the Counter-Strike Professional Player’s Association (CSPPA) was to create a singular body to push forward the agendas on behalf of professional players at large. It is important for this body to remain cohesive, to have a clear identity, and the appropriate representation of the people it is dedicated to working for. There are several times that I have criticized the CSPPA for their apparent failure at addressing critical issues, like the North American MDL to EPL pipeline and the lack of support for the secondary tier of professional players. These concerns, while I still have them, do not discount the efforts made today.
As of this morning, the CSPPA issued a press release that stated BLAST’s access to player communications, screen recording software, and other personal information was being mishandled. Concerns over the sharing of private tactical communication was the most obvious of concerns, as coaches and players had said on twitter. The CSPPA press released stated that they tried to engage with BLAST on the issues while pointing out that lack of clear agreements with players on how to store the personal information could be harmful, or even illegal. What pushed the CSPPA to releasing this announcement on the eve of the BLAST Premier Fall Finals Showdown, was that BLAST had refused to engage with the players on this matter.
Collectively, the players have agreed that while they would be participating in the BLAST Premier Fall 2020 Finals, they would not allow voice communications or screen recordings to be made available without clear agreements in place. This obviously led to an informally announced strike which delayed the Vitality – Mousesports match by a few hours.
Twitter (obviously) exploded the entire time. With hot takes galore, it’s almost hard (and something that I don’t feel needs to be screenshotted and constantly picked apart should anyone realize in the twitter cooldown period to come in the next 48 hours) to know that everyone operating is doing so on imperfect information – I’m also not guilty of that in writing this exact blog, so take from that what you will. So let’s go beyond what he said, she said, and go to the crux of the argument; voice communications are a valuable addition to the broadcast and should be made available.
The issue is about a failure of BLAST in correctly managing and handling player communications so that tactics were then revealed at large, causing teams to lose a precious competitive advantage. That’s the core issue. It’s something that is right to fight for. BLAST clearly, when trying to earnestly bring value to the broadcast, has allowed for private information to become public and hurt players and teams. Players, with the rights they have to that information, do not have specific agreements with BLAST, but should be able to have a say, or at least be aware, that BLAST is being careful with that information. The distracting argument of “Why don’t the players want their voices recorded” doesn’t actually address that the players don’t have issue with the recording, it’s the actual handling of the recording. Key points, which sadly are getting overlooked.
The externality here is that the protest obviously causes a rift between the talent who now have nothing better to do than go on twitter and look at the fallout, and the players who are advocating for something they feel aggrieved for. The problem became when everyone decided to use this very particular issue as a jumping off point to take shots at their own personal grievances, which, fine, but also unrelated and incredibly unconstructive. I mean, I didn’t help much either as I impersonated the CSPPA twitter account for twenty minutes for a meme (worth). So, we should all do as Ryan Fairchild told me on twitter, and stick to the point.
So, the CSPPA bringing up this issue and staging an all important strike right at the very crucial moment of a match, they brought BLAST back to the table. Additionally, as ChrisJ said on twitter, the discussions have been going for a long time, it wasn’t just a sudden disagreement. No team broke away, no player publicly dissented, even if they do. The collective body was able to argue and advocate for their cause. Bringing up this issue in the days leading to the event would not have had the same affect. Protesting whenever it’s convenient means that its an ineffectual protest. Protests are intended to cause disruption, to bring attention, to place a stop to the status-quo and force the wider public to look at the issues.
The CSPPA accomplished that. Finally. In all honestly, this might be the best thing that they have been able to do, just by showing that it is effective. They’ve now set the standard for important issues that striking is on the table – making every team organization and tournament organizer on notice. They have no problem embarrassing your event publicly until you hear us. Hopefully they continue to do it as a last resort and only for the issues that are the most pressing, and not simply every single pet cause. Then, the protest loses value, because like money, the more of it that is available, the less valuable it becomes.