eSports is already at its critical mass and ready to explode at any moment, according to Electronic Sports League (ESL) chairman Jen Hilgers. But it also can’t be denied that competitive gaming is still wildly inconsistent at times, with rules, prizes and schedules varying from league to league.
This is why ESL came up with a first-of-its-kind governing body called the World eSports Association (WESA), whose goal is to “professionalize eSports” by establishing regulations and standards for things such as revenue sharing, among other things.
WESA primary job involves coordinating tournament schedules and player contracts as well as preventing incidents of cheating, match-throwing and doping among players. Several teams have already signed on to WESA, including Fnatic, Natus Vincere, EnVyUs, Virtus.Pro, Gamers2, Faze, mousesports, and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
The launch of the self-appointed governing body, however, was met with many raised eyebrows, particularly from players, industry veterans and several media outfits who are doubtful of WESA’s capability to raise the profile of eSports using a framework based on “fairness, transparency and integrity,” especially since its founder, ESL, is one of the biggest eSports organizations out there.
It also didn’t help that WESA’s representatives inadvertently showed WESA’s flaws just moments after the association was launched.
In an interview (full story here) during the media reveal day, GameSpot’s Rob Crossley raised a question about the possibility of players exerting too much influence in the WESA, especially since teams on the council not only can help fund WESA’s operations but also compete in WESA-sanctioned tournaments.
WESA executive chair Ralf Reichert told the gaming news outlet: “I honestly don’t think so. How can you make a legitimate eSports association without the voice of the players?”
The association is made up of teams, players and event sponsors, but interim commissioner Pietro Fringuelli pointed out that it’s the players who have the most weight within WESA right now.
“Currently we have a system where most of the power is in the members’ meetings [the pro-team meetings], so the decisions that the executive board [ESL executives] makes is very limited, but nevertheless they have power to make certain decisions,” Fringuelli said.
The interim commissioner pointed out that even he doesn’t have direct authority—at least for now—to make or enforce rules, saying, “Other organizations have that [commissioners with authority], but here the power is only in the members meeting.”
Additionally, interested teams may also have a hard time getting into WESA, which is currently basing its membership process on a vague process that involves accepting “any pro team that meets certain criteria… mainly based on success and stability.”
Reichert promises to flesh out the criteria “at a later date.”