ELEAGUE shook the Counter-Strike world today when it announced both SK Gaming and X Team were officially disqualified from the league.
The announcement came after a month-long dispute between SK Gaming and Luminosity over the contracts of LG’s old squad. In summary the LG players including: Wilton “zews“Prado, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, Fernando “fer“ Alvarenga, Marcelo “coldzera” David, Epitácio“TACO“ de Melo and Lincoln “fnx” Lau had signed letters of intent with LG and later signed on with SK Gaming.
After a long public and private dispute, both sides came to terms and the players moved from LG to SK Gaming. During the dispute both teams were competing in ELEAGUE. LG still had the Brazilian squad and SK Gaming had a Danish lineup. ELEAGUE itself had a part in mediation and the commissioner of the league, Min-Sik Ko, wrote that there would be no sanctions for either team before the transfer.
After the transfer, the Brazilians went to SK Gaming and the former Danish roster made a temporary team known as X Team. This is why it was a shock when it was announced that both SK Gaming and X Team were disqualified from the league. The contract dispute was over, it was ended amicably on both sides (at least publicly) and no one was calling for any kind of punishments on either org or players.
This is speculation, but generally speaking, rules like this are made to protect smaller orgs or safeguard the tournament from tampering. That becomes more clear when you realize that a bigger org with a weaker team can buy out players through the course of a tournament or buy a team that has made it further and go from elimination back into contention.
This might be the prevailing thought and what ultimately led to the SK/LG decision. What SK Gaming did was in a very grey area of the ruleset, as SK essentially boosted itself into the playoffs by buying the LG players. On the other hand, the players themselves earned their spot, so it’s only the org that has forced its way up the tournament.
The problem is that in practice, the disqualifications punish both players and orgs. If it is the case that this situation is what ELEAGUE wanted to stop with its ruleset, then that’s fair play. ELEAGUE has been fairly in tune with what the CS:GO community wants and must know how beloved the Brazilians are within the space. This was likely not an easy decision to make, but if Ko and any other ELEAGUE decision makers feel that is in direct violation of their rules and integrity of their tournament, then that’s their decision.
But what about Team X? Team X had nothing to do with the entire mess, as far as the public knows. They weren’t involved with any of the contract disputes and were dropped from SK Gaming once the buyout was finalized. They are now being punished for the actions of three parties: LG, SK and the Brazilians for something they had no hand in. This is doubly painful as next week’s last chance qualifier could have been a great opportunity for them to showcase their skill and advertise themselves to a new organization.
For the average spectator, it’s a gross situation as SK Gaming is the best team in the world and we as fans just want to see the best possible games. But this is much more complicated than that. With so little information about the rules and the exact circumstances of why the decision was made, it’s hard to make a decisive argument as to how or why this came about. More so, what changed in the time between Ko’s initial tweet and now?
It would be good for ELEAGUE to take look at its rules and see if they reflect what is best for the tournament, players, organizations and community. If not, they can change them either now or before the next season. If they are, then an explanation of what SK Gaming and X Team were in violation of and why this particular punishment was passed rather than a fine or sanction on the orgs themselves — without punishing the players — would be nice, too.
Either way it is a contentious landmark decision, and an explanation of the thinking and the process could go a long way.