When Turner and WME | IMG initially announced their plans for ELEAGUE, the hype within the Counter-Strike community was understandably astronomical. The weight behind two of the most prestigious names in entertainment is hefty and their promises for the future of Counter-Strike were equally sizeable. The tournament prize pool of $1,400,000 is certainly healthy, but the manner in which it will be distributed… not so much.
ELEAGUE will host 16 teams from around the globe and it will last over a hyped 10 week period – 10 weeks of high-quality, offline Counter-Strike, it may well be every CS:GO fan’s dream. From its conception, ELEAGUE looked like the ideal competition format, the only obvious flaw was the prize pool distribution, which is somewhat ridiculous.
$1.4million is a hell of a lot of money to have floating around an eSports league. The amount surpasses all of the majors that take place throughout the year, in which there is $1,000,000 up for grabs at each. Importantly however, the team crowned champions at a major receives $500,000, whereas the future ELEAGUE winner will take home $390,000.
$390k as a prize is obviously great – no-one’s going to say no to that figure, particularly considering where the prize pool for competitive eSports lay just a few years ago. The 2nd placed team will receive $140,000, whilst $60,000 will be awarded to 3rd and 4th ranking teams – no problems here.
Where the rewards appear unbalanced are towards the bottom of the standings. Whilst a 3rd place team can grind hard for an entire season to earn their $60k, the team at the bottom of the league can afford to not practice and simply show up… and still walk away with $30,000. Where’s the impetus for lower-tier sides to improve themselves with such a small gap between last place and third?
You can get obliterated in every match with the current prize pool distribution and still receive $30,000. Why practice all day when you can go out, enjoy Atlanta, hang out with your friends and still get the same result?
ELEAGUE’s prize pool distribution may appear a little slanted, but there’s no doubt that players love the competition.
— Yegor Markelov (@YegorMarkeloff) 25 June 2016
— Eric Hoag (@adreN_Hoag) 28 May 2016
Whilst the rewards fail to differentiate between teams at the opposing end of the spectrum, ELEAGUE are taking care of their players during their time in Atlanta, providing a safety net for the teams propping up the table. ELEAGUE are looking to build an eSports phenomenon that’s sustainable and are certainly moving in the right direction – they may have just slightly overdone it.
With a small adjustment that aims to award better performances, not attendance, ELEAGUE has the potential to transform a great event into something revolutionary.