Credit: ESL

Valve announce end to business relationships between teams and tournament organizers

ESL and BLAST have been forced to rethink their business model from 2025.

Yesterday Valve announced the end of the partnership tournaments run by ESL and BLAST. The announcement did not come as a surprise after rumors had circled about the game developers' unhappiness with the closed tournament circuit that we see today in the tier-1 scene.

In the announcement, Valve stated its ambition of leveling the playing field for all teams with the ability to compete.

- Over the past few years, we’ve seen professional Counter-Strike drift away from that ideal. The ecosystem has become gradually less open, with access to the highest levels of competition increasingly gated by business relationships. We think that Counter-Strike should be an open sport. So we’re going to add new requirements to running large-scale competitive events, Valve explains.

The precise details of the changes have not been revealed yet, but Valve offered these three explainers to give a hint of what is to come. The changes will take place from the 2025 season to allow the tournament organizers to adjust.

  • Tournament organizers will no longer have unique business relationships or other conflicts of interest with teams that participate in their events.

  • Invitations to all tournaments will use our ranking system (detailed here), or otherwise be determined by open qualifiers.

  • Any compensation for participating teams—prize pool or otherwise—will be made public and will be driven by objective criteria that can be inspected by the community.

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