NA orgs to give players choice to compete in either EPL or PEA league

Thumbnail image courtesy of Professional Esports Association

In the wake of an open letter from players protesting the Professional eSports Association's alleged plan to boycott the upcoming ESL Pro League season, Immortals CEO and PEA Player Relations Committee Member Noah Whinston has announced that players will be given the decision to participate in either the PEA's league or EPL.

"I sympathize with the players’ sentiments around not feeling more included in the decision-making process and I acknowledge that we could and should have done better. That’s why, in good faith, we’re going to give this decision to them," he said. "We’ll arrange a meeting with all of the players ASAP to discuss this and answer questions, so that they can decide as a unified body whether they want to participate in EPL or PEA next season."

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While Whinston says PEA will not be an exclusive league, concerns over over-saturation in the CS:GO scene led PEA to attempt a compromise with WESA, which represents the EU teams of EPL, wherein EPL would leave North America but the top four teams from PEA and EPL would meet in a cross-Atlantic championship. According to Whinston, WESA declined the offer. Because of that, Whinston says that PEA are unwilling to throw their hat in an already crowded scene and further curtail the time their players have to stream and meet sponsor obligations.

"I believe every author of the player letter wants to participate in the PEA league, as well as EPL. Unfortunately, that option is not on the table," he said. "If the only option for the PEA is to lose money by functioning as yet another year-round CSGO league, we’ll instead devote the PEA league’s resources to other game titles where over-saturation is less of a problem."

While Whinston admits PEA could have done better including players in the decision-making process, orgs ultimately reserve final say in what events and tournaments their players attend.

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"It would not make sense for a roster of players to decide what tournaments to participate in, while representing the organization and emblazoned with its intellectual property," he said. "Perhaps the most surprising part of the player letter is that this basic fact is treated as new information. Athletes have always been part of the conversation surrounding the events in which a team decides to compete, but the power to make a final decision always resides with the organization."

However, he insists that players would not be getting the short end of the stick, providing a detailed breakdown of how PEA's $750,000 prize pool plus each players minimum guaranteed profit of $31,250 and health insurance would make up for sitting out EPL.

"The addition of $250,000 in minimum guaranteed profits (MG) will provide a strong baseline of compensation for players and a preview of what’s coming in the future when the PEA league is operating profitably," Whinston said. "Teams at the bottom will more than double their compensation and even the top teams will see significant compensation bumps."

You can read the Whinston's letter in its entirety here.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

compLexity dephh on looking ahead to Vegas: 'We just want to surprise people and just go as deep as we can'

Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / compLexity Gaming

Rory "dephh" Jackson is the entry fragger for compLexity Gaming and a UK native playing in North America.

The 25-year-old kicked off the year by qualifying for DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, but will have an uphill battle there as part of one of the event's underdog teams.

Ahead of his games in Vegas, dephh spoke to theScore esports about moving to America and playing with compLexity's new lineup featuring Derek "desi" Branchen at the helm.

2016 was the year that you moved to America to compete in NA with compLexity. How did that actually start for you? What was your initial reaction?

I was in university, I was studying in my third year and I was just playing ESEA pugs in Premier. Two players, sancz [Joshua "sancz" Ballenger] and roca [Daniel "roca" Gustaferri], were looking through HLTV for potential players for their roster and mine was a name that popped up.

I got a Twitter message from roca, and I went through the account to make sure it was him and he was verified and stuff, and I was like, "is this serious?"

And I remember phoning my parents straight away after a few scrims and I said, "these guys want me to move to America, they want me to fly over and to see what it's like." And my parents just immediately assumed it was bullshit and I was lying, they're like, "there's no way, how are you going to get paid?"

So it's been about a year since that. How would you sum up your year in NA and 2016 in general?

It's been a strange year because we want to build a team that wants to stay together, we wanted a team that moved into the house. We need everyone to be on for practice everyday, because in the previous lineups, some players didn't want to practice all the time, their hearts weren't in it, you know?

Especially NA players that have played for a while, I think they kind of lose interest in practicing, they lose the fire in their belly, they don't want to win anymore.

So we were really looking for people that, it didn't matter how much they were paid, your living conditions didn't matter, you just wanted to win. Because that's when the big money comes, when you start winning tournaments.

Is that lack of passion, or the burnout factor, the primary reason why there were so many roster changes in 2016?

For our roster changes, I'll have to go back in my head to think about it. I think Josh "shinobi" Abastado was one of our first changes, roca and sancz too.

I don't want to go too much into roca and sancz, because I love them as people. But they were the kind of people that I thought, "these guys are showing up for the paycheck," missing practice and stuff like that. Just stuff that could be avoided, you know?

And then when shinobi came in, we had shinobi and witmer [Shawn "witmer" Taylor] for a while, witmer had some outside troubles. In-game he was fine, he always turned up for practice and he was super into it. He played tons of hours, but he had outside pressures that meant that he couldn't really fit into a team environment. shinobi, I don't feel like he fit in with how we wanted to play, I'm not sure about his calling style and stuff.

They're good players, all these players that we've removed are all good players, I'm sure they'll get into other teams. And our most recent one was APE [Cory "APE" Bate] for desi.

desi is a guy who's been out of a team for a long long time, I think almost a year.

Yeah, I think he left Winterfox in April last year.

I know he had a bad time at Winterfox. He wasn't enjoying it and he's seen as this maybe toxic guy, but he's really not. I've practiced with him already, he doesn't seem like that at all. He just seems dedicated, he wants these big tournaments and that's all we want.

You mention desi's bad reputation, have you received any comments from fans or other players about it?

Yeah, see, this is the thing. All the pro players know that he's a great player, so it's a good pick up, everyone said it was a good pickup.

What happened was, I don't know if you remember the whole steel [Joshua "steel" Nissan] and desi debacle. Because steel was a big streamer and desi's just a player, doesn't stream, he couldn't really get his side out there.

What's your first impression of him? How's he in-game, how's the team play so far?

We actually look really good right now, but logistically it's bad right now, we have to get visas to come over. Uber [Michael "Uber" Stapells], who's currently in Canada, has to get a visa to live here and earn here. So getting people into the house has been a struggle.

Right now we have five, including the coach, so once we get Uber... he flies today I think [Feb. 3], maybe in a few hours. So he arrives today, so the next week or two we're just going to just practicing everyday for the Las Vegas event.

If worse comes to worse and this lineup doesn't work out, would you deal with the region change and just pick up another UK player?

Umm, I don't know if there would be another UK player I'd suggest. I was one of the main factors in picking up Surreal [Kia "Surreal" Man], cause he was new, he came from AVA [Alliance of Valiant Arms], another FPS game. And I remember being in the UK, just travelling over, and I remember watching him and thinking, "this guy's good, this guy's got talent."

He's done loads of different LANs for AVA, traveled the world. He's young too, he was only 19 years old, so that's really why we picked him up and he's got such a good mentality. He's quiet, but in-game he's not quiet. He takes advice and he really does it on the chin, he's a good lad.

Kia "Surreal" Man is the second UK import on compLexity Gaming

So, given that, is that kind of a commentary on your opinion of the UK CS:GO scene?

UK CS:GO for me... I don't think the players are bad, I've never said this. I stream now and I get this question asked more than any other question. My answer always is, the players in the UK aren't bad, it's the structure of the UK.

In the UK, you cannot stay at home all day playing games unless you live with your parents and no job, really, or just a part-time job. The only reason I was able to do this is because I was at university and I had a lot of spare time. I was putting 140 hours in two weeks.

I think it's the structure, there's not enough orgs offering money and the orgs are very unprofessional. I know some people in the UK that are still getting paid like $250 a month, but sometimes the payments aren't there.

That's why I came to NA originally, because NA has that infrastructure, it can deal with that kind of stuff.

Another topic I wanted to touch on, you've actually switched roles between being an entry-fragger and in-game leader several times. Given your role instability, and the roster instability, has it been difficult getting a grasp on the team and a playstyle?

Yeah, honestly, I'm known for being the overaggressive, sometimes dying for no reason, kind of playstyle. And I've always played like that, in every game that I've ever played, hyper-aggressive.

And then I went to this in-game leader role, and I remember at ELEAGUE, I was in-game leader... I'm not anymore, because desi's taken over, he wants to call. I still do mid-round calls but not even close to what I was doing.

I'm one of those guys that needs freeing up a little bit, given a little space, and to do whatever I want. Each team has one of those players I think, kind of a loose cannon. Warden [Matt "Warden" Dickens] always shouts at me for that kind of stuff.

But yeah, it's weird, people don't realize how hard it actually is to in-game lead and frag too, it takes real special people. Like shoxie [Richard "shox" Papillon] for example, he's super special because he can top frag and in-game lead at the same time. I know those teams are very structured and they know what they are doing off by heart, but still, to be able to try to call and frag at the same time is super difficult and it shouldn't be taken lightly.

With the team set, what are the current goals for improvement? Are you guys concentrating on the map pool, individual plays or team play?

Right now we're going over four or five maps and we're going to keep strict vetos for each teams that we've come across. We're going to veto the best map of each team that we come across in the near future until we get a deeper map pool.

Mainly we're just playing and jelling right now, because at the start you can't go straight into the detailed stuff. It's more about keeping comms up, making sure you're rotating properly and people are in the right spots.

It takes a while to figure out, but hopefully by Las Vegas we've got a position where we have a good structure to work on.

Las Vegas is actually a pretty interesting tournament given the results of the ELEAGUE Major. Every single team from the Top 8 will be in Las Vegas...

Oh yeah, this tournament is so stacked. This is a perfect opportunity for us to upset some people and say, "you know what, you can't take us for granted."

Because we've done it before, we've taken maps off OpTic before, Renegades we can beat, Misfits we can beat. We just want to surprise people and just go as deep as we can.

What are your big concerns going into the tournament?

I don't know who we're playing yet, I don't think they get released for a while, but I feel like we're going to be seeded last and then Astralis are going to be seeded first. I've got a feeling that's what's going to happen, we're going to play Astralis our first game, which is tough.

This team is new, a lot of the players are new to the pro scene. The only time I've ever played pro was this past year, Kia came three months later, so we haven't done a lot of these big tournaments, so this is just a great experience for us. We just want to qualify for a lot of these tournaments, we want to travel and we want to go to these LANs, because we want to get better.

Astralis had this whole choke factor, but now they've finally won something, because they just got used to it. Ninjas in Pyjamas played forever, played long than I've ever seen CS, these guys are just veterans at these kind of LANs. So we're just taking it in stride and just hoping for the best.

When you're watching replays, is there one team that you emulate or take notes from?

We were watching the ELEAGUE Major and Gambit have a style of playing that would be very good for us. They're not as individually skilled as the other teams, but they play as a unit and they're always together and their rotations are super fast.

Before these games, we're going to watch demos on everyone and take notes. We're going to set our vetoes, we're going to set our map picks.

We've taken a map off Gambit before at ELEAGUE, so it would be nice to play them again, because they don't feel that strong. Sometimes you play some other teams like SK and we get rolled sometimes. It's going to be interesting to see how we do.

Well, given Las Vegas, as well as EPL and ECS, what are your goals for the first half of 2017?

I don't know when the next Major is going to be announced, but I really really really want to make a Major, that's my highest goal. Obviously winning the Major is my highest goal, but we can't be unrealistic with it.

Making a Major, or even a Major qualifier would be super good for me right now. Having only been playing professionally for over a year and having only played CS for three years, going into a Major this early would be really special.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

C9 autimatic: 'Without the experiences and knowledge that I obtained from TSM, I don’t think I would have the same impact on Cloud9'

Thumbnail image courtesy of Adela Sznajder / DreamHack

Timothy "autimatic" Ta is a rifler for Cloud9 and a rising star in North America. He missed out on the ELEAGUE Major, as C9 were unable to qualify, but after an extended break they will be fresh going into DreamHack Masters Las Vegas.

Ahead of his games in Vegas, autimatic took the time to answer some questions from theScore esports about 2016 and why he wouldn't enter 1v1 tournaments.

2016 was a big year for you as you started off with Team SoloMid then transferred over to Cloud9, which were big moves for you personally, though unfortunately you weren’t able to make any of the Majors in the year. How would you summarize 2016? What were the important moments for you in the year?

2016 for me was a year filled with adversity and growing. I think the most important moments happened in the first half of the year while I was on TSM. Though TSM wasn’t as successful as I hoped for, I learned a lot about what it took to be a good team and teammate. Not only in-game, but out-of-game, and how to communicate with my teammates/peers.

When I got transferred over I took the skills I had learned on TSM and applied them to Cloud9. Without the experiences and knowledge that I obtained from TSM, I don’t think I would have the same impact on Cloud9.

When you were on TSM, I think your performances were good, but fairly low key. However on Cloud9 you began to shine and have come into your own within that lineup. What is it about that team that enables you to perform?

The main factor is that we compliment each other very well. shroud, n0thing and Skadoodle are naturally passive players whereas Stewie and I are naturally aggressive players. Because of this I am able to get a lot of support from my teammates, because they are normally in more passive positions.

This allows me to creates space for them to play in more post-plant situations, which is where players like Shroud and Skadoodle really shine and it also creates openings for n0thing to get lurk kills.

On TSM however, it was the opposite. We had too many aggressive players so I played a more support/reserved role on the team.

Unfortunately you guys were unable to qualify for the ELEAGUE Major 2017, this was also during a time where there was a lot of hype surrounding the team, such as your ninth place ranking on HLTV. Was there maybe a bit of overconfidence going into the qualifier? What were the factors in the team’s underperformance?

I don’t think we were over confident at all. While we are very confident in ourselves we don’t let that affect how hard or how much we prepare for each match. However, during this time we had played so many tournaments in the past six months that we didn’t feel like we had the time and/or energy to constantly be innovating and revamping. This was the main factor. Not that we were overconfident or that we had an inflated ego after winning ESL Brazil, but purely that we were burnt out.

You guys were invited to DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, which also features all eight of the Top 8 teams from the ELEAGUE Major. Do you see the event as a way of redeeming yourselves for missing the Major?

I wouldn’t say that this tournament is a way of redeeming ourselves. We’re just excited to be competing again and to get back to work.

DHM Vegas will be the first event to use the latest map pool, so Infer-new instead of Dust II. What are your thoughts on this?

While I’m not a fan of Inferno, I’m excited to see which teams adapt the best and also what new strategies they bring.

There was a fairly long break after the Major qualifier to accommodate for the holidays and it gave all the players a good long break, though slightly shorter for those at WESG. How did you spend your holidays? Did you give or receive any notable gifts?

I spent it with my family and close friends. The most notable gift I received was being in their presence.

You guys have yet to really start in 2017, but have already, reportedly, made a move by bringing in former Team SoloMid coach Soham “valens” Choudhury. You guys have actually been searching for a coach for a long while now, why did you guys decide to finally choose valens?

We haven’t committed to anything yet, but valens is someone who played a large part in my development as a player and as a person. We have been friends for years and I feel like he can help any team be successful. With that being said, right now we are seeing if working together would be mutually beneficial.

In your HyperX 20 questions video, you mentioned you enjoyed 1v1s. How would you feel about 1v1s being added to tournaments as a side event, or even a 1v1 tournament mini-circuit?

I don’t think I would compete in any 1v1 tournaments, so others could have a chance. Like I said in the video, I would destroy everyone.

How does Jake feel about your apparent bromance with shroud? shroud-imatic > the Asian duo?

I have a bromance with all of my teammates and I’m sure it’s the same for him as well.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

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