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La CSPPA n'en a pas fini avec FLASHPOINT

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Page 2: English version: "CSPPA isn't done with FLASHPOINT just yet"

Two and a half years after its creation, the FLASHPOINT project, initially launched by eight co-shareholding teams, seems more than ever in danger. Probably too ambitious in its internal functioning and heckled by a Covid period at the worst of times, this competition has accused the departure of its figures up to the point that it is already a distant memory for some. But when a memory owes money, it is not so distant for others.

Remember. It's January 2020, press agencies have just alerted on a new kind of pneumonia that has infected a few people in China and Astralis is still the best team in the world, strong of its three consecutive Major crowns. The beginning of this year, which could not be more banal, is also marked by the creation of a new entity supposed to revolutionize the ecosystem around Counter-Strike. Initially known under the code name B Site, the project became official a few weeks later under the name FLASHPOINT.

The bar was set very high. For the first time in the history of Counter-Strike, eight teams, mostly from North America, have each invested two million dollars to create their own franchise league of which they will all be co-shareholders. The revenues generated by the league would go directly into the pockets of these founding teams. The idea is ambitious, and not without meaning at a time when the debate about the profitability of teams in the e-sports world is becoming increasingly oppressive.

It wasn't so bad... at first.

By setting the entry price at two million dollars, the organization wanted to ensure the commitment of the teams which, in a mechanical way, should have done everything to participate in the success of the project, by investing massively in renowned players for example. Once the eight organizations were gathered around the table, the production company was found, in this case FACEIT, which took a 5% share in FLASHPOINT, and several figures of the scene were hired, including Duncan "Thorin" Shields and Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, all that remained was to launch the first season.  

An inaugural edition that should have ended in the prestigious Ericsson Globe, since renamed in Avicii Arena, in the heart of Stockholm. It was not the case, Covid having forced the organizers to revise their plans, migrating to the Californian studios of FACEIT before resolving to finish on the Internet. FLASHPOINT will never come out of there.

The first setbacks around the project did not take long to appear. The stables, having invested at the launch, disappeared from the landscape one after the other, without really giving any explanations. Duncan "Thorin" Shields also left the ship, underlining the growing disinterest of the different co-shareholders unable to gather competitive teams. It must be said that on the other side, ESL and BLAST, the two competing organizers strongly hostile to the project, have not been idle and have also set up their own revenue sharing system with the teams through various contracts.

Despite all this, and somewhat to everyone's surprise, FLASHPOINT was awarded the organization of the first RMR qualifying tournament for the PGL Stockholm Major. A recognition from Valve that hasn't been enough. Since the end of this umpteenth online tournament, in May 2021, it is radio silence. The FLASHPOINT's official website, itself, no longer responds.

Thorin, the figurehead of the project, has become its main critic.

Our colleague Jacob Wolf recently revealed the successive departures from the board of directors of the various co-founding structures of the league. Of the eight, only two still have a CS:GO team at the time of writing (Cloud9 and MIBR), and they hardly communicate about the future of a project that seems closer than ever to disappear.

It is probably easy to understand the bitterness that gripped the various shareholders when they realized that they would probably never see their initial investment again.

But perhaps it would be too easy to disappear like that.

Because behind the scenes, one organization is not ready to give up. The CSPPA, the international union of professional players, is considering, according to our informations, to start a legal procedure against B Site, the parent company of FLASHPOINT. A new case to come that allows us to explore the contours of a revenue stream for players still relatively unknown.

How does a professional CS:GO player earn a living? Four separate sources seem obvious: the salary paid by his team, sponsorship contracts that he may or may not sign, stickers revenue, and prize money won in competition. For a few years now, a fifth flow has opened up.

This is the sharing of the revenues generated by a tournament. Not only do ESL, BLAST and FLASHPOINT share a part of the revenues generated by their competitions (broadcasting rights, sponsoring, ticketing...) between the partner teams, but they also do it with the players of the latter. This is where the role of the CSPPA takes all its meaning since it is this union that has negotiated most of these agreements in the interest of the players.

The distribution is even public in some cases. This is notably the case for ESL and its Louvre Agreement which binds fourteen of the best teams in the world to the organizer until 2025, at least. Players under contract with a Louvre Agreement partner team share 15% of the share dedicated to their team. This may not represent huge sums of money so far, but it is a high-potential revenue stream, as it is proportional to ESL's ability to sell its competitions in the future.

Excerpt from the agreement between the CSPPA and FLASHPOINT regarding the guaranteed minimum for players

On the FLASHPOINT side, there is no public percentage but a guaranteed minimum each year. If we consider 2020 as FLASHPOINT's only true year (the only two franchise seasons having taken place that year), each player should have received a portion of the $457,500 dedicated to them. Divided by eight (number of teams) and then by five (number of players per team), that's still over $11,000 per head.

It is this money that is missing and that leads the CSPPA to gather the signatures of the participants of the first two editions in order to launch a collective legal action against B Site and FLASHPOINT. According to our sources, the contacts between the two entities is totally broken at this stage.

This is not the first time that CSPPA and FLASHPOINT have come face to face. At the end of the first season, in the spring of 2020, there was already water in the gas about a sharing of revenues reserved for the players. FLASHPOINT blamed the CSPPA for, among other things, blowing a sponsorship deal with a monitors brand, which resulted in the league suspending a $165,000 payment to the union.

This is probably more of a matter of principle than a real financial issue for the CSPPA, but it could still be the final blow to a project that was almost stillborn. In other words, another thorn in the side of a corpse.

Page 2: English version: "CSPPA isn't done with FLASHPOINT just yet"
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