Team Spirit and Team Spirit Academy qualified Thursday for the CIS Minor along with Spartak and Tengri. The CIS Minor, held June 6-8, will produce two teams that will move on to the PGL Major Qualifier at the end of June. With both teams in the Minor, it is possible that they will play against each other. Thus, a conflict of interest once again presents itself.
If Valve or PGL allow both teams to play, the competitive integrity of the entire tournament will be jeopardized. Some might claim that since the two top teams will advance, they may not have to play each other, but that doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t even be the case that two teams owned by the same organization can compete at a tournament together. Others might argue the academy team “isn’t good anyway,” but that isn’t a valid argument either. A situation in which two teams, with the same owner, play each other allows the potential for collusion to occur. Competitive integrity should be of the highest importance in Counter-Strike, and allowing both teams to compete in the CIS Minor would be another disappointing blow. Ignorance of this situation and many like it will only allow for severe problems to occur in the future.
This issue has become increasingly relevant in the CS:GO landscape. Reports last summer revealed one company, ESForce, held stakes in Virtus.pro, SK Gaming and Natus Vincere, three of the top organizations in the game. RFRSH Entertainment launched this year and later stated it has the right to control a stake in any of Astralis, Godsent and Heroic — teams it “represents” — whenever it deems necessary. In March, Renegades attempted to purchase an academy team while competing against that team for promotion to ECS (both made it). The ECS itself doesn’t even explicitly outlaw multi-team ownership.
Some organizations started to mitigate the problem. The World Esports Association outlawed multi-team ownership (but not for the next 18 months). The ESL ruled last month that academy teams could not compete in the same tournaments as their partner organizations. But this problem will continue to persist as long as tournament organizers allow it. If ESL Cologne was the upcoming Major, Team Spirit Academy would not be allowed to compete. PGL should follow suit.
UPDATE: PGL tweeted both teams will be allowed to compete as long as they use different logos and uniforms to nobody gets “confused.” From this tweet, it is clear that PGL is entirely unaware of the issue at hand. It’s preposterous that confusion is their concern above all else.