The World Esports Association (WESA) has a great sounding name. And the mission statement is certainly admirable. They want to improve the standards of esports, conditions for the players within, and the livelihood of all those involved.
But within just a fortnight, things have began to rapidly crumble. The association's press conference was marked with a pair of spectacularly shocking interviews. Days after that, rumours broke that one of the founding teams already wanted to leave. Today, they have.
Photo: FaZe Clan
The rumours were pretty simple: FaZe Clan, one of the eight inagural teams, wanted out of the new esports world order. The understanding was that ESL, which founded the organisation and was responsible for the year-plus long negotiations to get it started, had pushed FaZe beyond the brink when it came to exclusivity.
Something ESL argued they wouldn't be doing, mind you. WESA was an inclusive organisation, designed to improve the well-being of esports.
It might still be doing that, but as of this morning it officially won't be doing so with the support of FaZe Clan. The organisation confirmed last week's rumours in a lengthy missive on Facebook, saying that the association had "lots of challenges to overcome and we feel that right now it's not the best place for us to be".
WESA is a pro-active initiative with a big vision. We clearly see the upside of building a product that aligns the pro scene and provides stability. The big vision executed would be a right step towards progressing e-sports into more of a traditional sports setup and all the benefits that comes with that. Another point is that, as of today, we are a part of the EU scene and we play in the EU leagues. We are also a new addition to CS:GO and we did not want to feel left out. So, we joined WESA and we were also fairly enthusiastic about it.
Something FaZe didn't address in their statement was the suggestion that ESL had pushed too hard for the exclusive rights to control and market the images and brands of WESA members. FaZe did say that they had a "responsibility to voice our opinion and do what's right for all our members, creators, players" — but that doesn't really say a great deal.
It does, however, make a salient point about one of WESA's problems from the outset: the fact that the organisation has no representation, grounding or standing in the United States. None of the member teams, which includes Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team EnVyUs and Fnatic, originated from or are based in the United States. There's no representation from Valve, whose game — Counter Strike: Global Offensive — is the only one affected by WESA regulations. And there's no representation from US-based tournaments or organisers either.
FaZe did, however, quash suggestions that they paid $USD50,000 to leave WESA. "What is not true is that a team that wants to leave will have to pay a penalty," the team wrote. "WESA would never penalize organizations for having a difference of opinion and they respect our decision."
As for the association, they posted a short, two paragraph statement publicly regretting the move. "While we regret the fact that FaZe has decided to take this step and are disappointed to see them go, we understand and accept their decision to put their current focus elsewhere."
WESA says their next move is to appoint players to the board, formalise rules around their arbitration tribunal to strengthen players' rights, elect the members of the Players Council (which reports to the WESA board), and "expanding the number of members of the association". Before anyone else leaves, one presumes.