Brazilian Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams Made in Brazil (MIBR) and Yeah are both cleared to compete in ESL One: Road to Rio.
This decision by Valve brings up some clear conflict of interest concerns as Yeah is backed by a host of people connected to MIBR.
People involved with the two organisations include Epitácio “TACO” de Melo and Ricardo “dead” Sinigaglia; both of which are listed as co-owners of Yeah. TACO is currently a player for MIBR and dead is the coach of team, having replaced Wilton “zews” Prado on March 25th. Marcelo “coldzera” David is now on FaZe Clan but was competing for MIBR less than a year ago – both zews and coldzera are said to also be involved with Yeah.
A section on Yeah’s website even mentions MIBR directly. According to documents obtained by HLTV, the organisations did not try to hide the numerous financial connections in documents submitted to Valve. According to said documents, the connections even include a set annual fee that gives Immortals Gaming Club, the parent company of MIBR, the ability to “buy out at most two players from Yeah’s roster in a calendar year at an agreed upon price.”
This indicates that Yeah is serving as a de facto academy team for MIBR. According to a statement from Valve that was provided to HLTV: “[The sole requirement for ESL One: Road to Rio was that] participating teams disclose existing conflicts of interest, and that those disclosures be made public so that the community can have an opportunity to discuss them.”
This decision is different from past Valve policies that forced RFRSH Entertainment to sell Astralis in July of 2019. Potential conflict of interests are of even further importance lately, mainly due to an increased focus on esports betting. Regulated American sportsbooks like William Hill and MGM have largely stayed out of esports.
With sports on hiatus due to the coronavirus, regulating bodies have begun approving esports competitions for betting. Earlier this month, both ESL One Rio and ESL One: Road to Rio were approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for betting.
Esports Insider reached out to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for comment but has not heard back at the time of writing.
Esports Insider Says: Conflict of interest concerns are not new to esports. With the building of academy leagues to support many esports the problem has been lessened – but not stopped entirely. Valve, which is notoriously hands-off when it comes to CS:GO, will need to come to a clear consensus on what constitutes a conflict of interest.