In November 2019, Valve defined its stance on teams attending any of the developer’s sanctioned Major events with conflicts of interests. The result of which ruled organisations must disclose business relations that may affect match integrity in an effort to maintain transparency and competitive fairness.
In an email obtained by HLTV, Valve reportedly identified three cases of conflicts representing “a threat to the integrity of the Majors,” after reviewing declarations provided by teams competing in the Regional Major Ranking (RMR) tournament.
At the head is Brazillian organisation Yeah, which boasts ownership from several professional Counter-Strike players and coaches including Epitacio “TACO” de Melo, Marcelo “coldzera” David, and Wilton “zews” Prado of MIBR, FaZe Clan, and Evil Geniuses, respectively.
While the co-owners allegedly don’t dictate the organisation’s operations, there is a financial accord between Yeah and Immortals Gaming Club, the parent company of MIBR. The nature of which permits it the ability to purchase up to two players from Yeah in a calendar year at a fixed rate.
The decision to target MIBR and Yeah represents a change of heart from Valve, which cleared both parties to compete against one another in ESL One: Road to Rio in April. Although not officially recognised, Yeah’s financial agreement with IGC positions them as a de facto academy team for MIBR, flaring up the potential for competitive integrity hazards.
Valve also reportedly determined conflicts surrounding Dignitas player Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and his ownership stake in Ninjas in Pyjamas, as well as Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen’s senior leadership role in IGC while being a minority shareholder of ENCE.
Organisations flagged by Valve are said to have until the upcoming Major, ESL One Rio, in November to rectify conflicts of interest, suggesting failure to comply will curb the ability to participate in the tournament.
Esports Insider says: The notice displays a clear zero-tolerance policy on behalf of Valve in regards to conflicts of interest within its sanctioned tournaments. It’s unclear how organisations and stakeholders will attempt to navigate this, but is certainly a step in the right direction for the sustained, long-term growth of the title and industry at large.