ESL UK Public Statement addressing recent controversies around the ESL CS:GO Spring Premiership

ESL UK was made aware of concerns raised around the organisation and execution of the ESL Premiership, a tournament operated within England and Ireland, of which it’s main purpose is to grow and nurture the competitive esports scene for aspiring semi professional players & teams.

These concerns were originally raised on Discord and then escalated to Twitter; from the moment we were made aware of these posts we have been internally investigating to ensure we do not repeat our mistakes moving forward.

ESL UK would like to state that we take all players concerns seriously and it is routine practice to take player feedback each season to improve the tournament. We appreciate that sometimes it appears as if “nothing ever changes”, however we are certain we are moving in the right direction and we will continuously work with players and organisations to grow the ESL Premiership to new heights.

The first thing we would like to directly address is communication, as this seems to be the root issue from us during this incident.

Delayed Responses

ESL UK had delayed responses to players queries in this instance due to working on additional projects and people being out of office for holidays.

As players were mainly communicating via Discord they did not receive the staff members out of office emails which would set the expectation that responses could be delayed.

ESL UK would like to apologise for the delay in answering these initial concerns. But fully understand that this is not an excuse for similar future scenarios.

In future we will endeavour to have a much better turn around time to questions or issues raised by implementing a better system of escalation for players & teams to ESL UK.


We believe that the current communication system of discord can and will work in the long term. However we believe that adding an additional level of escalation will help to expedite any major issues that are encountered. We plan to look at this over the next few weeks, likely it will be some kind of online form which sends an email to various people at ESL UK, and should be used if a response to a serious issue hasn’t been forthcoming in 24 hours.

Rescheduled Matches

Games on match weeks 4, 5 and 6 were rescheduled on 4th of February prior to Week 2’s games to facilitate a new broadcast segment referred to as ‘Hot Match of the week’, which was aimed to highlight an impactful game for the week. It had to be placed within a dedicated time slot for the tournament broadcast in order to provide regularity for the viewers, and also to showcase ESL Premiership talent.
The rescheduling was announced via Discord, however there was no call to action for the players to acknowledge these changes. ESL UK is aware that this approach is not good enough and as you read on you will see how we hope to address this issue moving forward.

RuleBook

The rulebook did state on January the 28th that the official platform for communication between players and ESL UK should be via email.

During an internal review a decision to improve communication was made after the start of the tournament. It was decided that official communication going forward would be through the medium of Discord, to encourage a more dynamic approach to our responses and allow for more direct contact with our League Ops team.

ESL UK is at fault in three instances in implementing this;

  1. We did not express this change in a proper capacity, a simple message in Discord was assumed it would be acknowledged by all affected however we are aware this was not the correct process based on the previous ruleset.
  2. We did not clearly communicate at the start of the season that the rulebook is a live document which is continuously updated; we will ensure that moving forward whenever a change is implemented to this rulebook that we communicate the change via an official message in discord, as well as updating the premiership website. We have a new web editor joining the team from Monday 11th which should help aide this communication channel.
    We know moving forward that we must make it clearer to all participants that the rulebook is a living document is and will be updated as and when appropriate.
  3. We have noticed during this investigation that the terminology used in the rulebook is not accessible and we do not define terms or sometimes use words correctly which we feel could have lead to further confusion. We believe that entering our tournaments and esports in general should have as low a barrier to entry as possible and we will be working on revising the wording within the rulebook to add more clarity where needed.

ESL UK will endeavour to make communication a key improvement for the forthcoming ESL Premiership seasons and will look to gain even more feedback on how we can improve our processes for everyone involved.

Roster Locks

Addressing Pensioners roster concerns:

The Spring Season teams were decided by invite from previous season success. This is deter determined by a team finishing within the top 6, and whereby that team must carry over a minimum of three starter members from the roster of the previous season.

Unfortunately Vexed Gaming were unable to meet this requirement for the Spring Season and ESL UK were only notified 12 days prior the tournament start that they could no longer participate.

That in turn generated a tight deadline to find a suitable replacement team that could meet the ruleset of starters. ESL UK approached Pensioners because they were the highest rated non qualifying team from the relegation tournament.
ESL UK reviewed the situation and provided some level of leniency towards Pensioners start to the Spring season. Allowing only 2 of the 3 starters to join the league but with the team being issued with the punishment of 15 penalty points under the rule ‘2.10.6.1 Start of the Season’.

The decision was not made public to all teams in a transparent and open manner which understandably has caused confusion. Again we would like to apologise for any misunderstanding or lack of clarity here. Moving forward we are going to ensure that we communicate important decisions such as this to all participants through Discord and a statement on the Premiership website.

Pensioners requested a player transfer exactly a week before the match from week 2, they intended to play with that roster lineup and this was approved as it fell well outside the 24 hour transfer deadline from rule ‘2.10.4 Changes in Teams’.
We understand however that we did not communicate this change to the rest of the tournament participants in a way that allowed for any kind of transparency. This was compounded by the fact that ESL UK staff only updated the roster for the match on ProDB on the day of the match.

ESL UK will now announce all player transfers as soon as they get approved via the official Transfer communication room on Discord (to be created).

Addressing Endpoints’ roster concerns:

Team Endpoint requested to make a third transfer to their Premiership roster, roster changes are limited to 2 per team in a season as per rule 2.10.5.3.

Despite Team Endpoint offering to take penalty points in order to enact this third transfer, ESL UK took the view that this was a serious violation of the rules and would not allow Team Endpoint to actively break this rule mid season.
It was then requested by Endpoint to play the match on a different day, however ESL UK does not see this as an acceptable solution except in extreme extenuating circumstances such as situations that affect multiple teams, for example the IEM Katowice Minor Qualifiers that affected the 2018 Winter Season.

Rule ‘1.2 Participants’

The intention of rule ‘1.2 Participants’ is to protect the Premiership, its teams and players from higher level participants joining the league when they are active members of other tournaments. This is done to protect the integrity of the tournament and allow us to continue to provide a stepping stone for UK and Irish players to realise their own potential and to function in an environment where they’re not trumped by those with significantly larger resource pools within CS:GO.

The rule ‘1.2 Participants’ does state that players who are currently ‘benched’ as non active player but still contracted to a team that is participating in events such as IEM should not be allowed to participate in the Premiership.

That said we are aware that allowing Smooya to play in the Premiership this season was a major oversight by ourselves. We know we must do better in order to not have double standards in enforcing our ruleset for the Premiership and all tournaments we operate.

We would like to invite teams to provide us with feedback on this rule, as to whether 1) Benched players should be able to play in the Premiership temporarily 2) Benched players should NOT be able to play as in accordance with the rest of rule 1.2.

We have reviewed our system for background checks on player eligibility, and believe that we have not had a robust procedure in place here. We are looking into how we can make this better moving forward and will implement a change to this for the Summer Season, with an announcement to be made prior to the season starting.  

In order to allow the ESL Premiership Spring Season 2019 to continue without major disruption, it has been decided that Smooya will be allowed to continue to play for the remainder of this season. However, unless there is a change in his contractual situation he will be removed from the competition for the Summer Season.

Closing comments
ESL UK are totally committed to improving esports in the UK, we endeavour to do this in everything we do. However we understand that sometimes we’re not going to get things right, what is important is that we look to address issues and continue to improve what we do in order to grow and nurture this industry. We hope that with the above statement and introductions of process that we’re able to address and allay some of the concerns that the community have raised over the recent communication breakdown.

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