New Association to Oversee Professional Esports
A group of professional videogame teams, players, and other industry leaders formed the World Esports Association to help unite and standardize the sport.
The world of electronic sports (esports) and video gaming has grown into a $400 million industry with tons of devoted fans, and now there’s a new association to oversee it.
The Electronic Sports League, an organization that runs gaming tournaments, announced last week the formation of the World Esports Association to standardize competitions and function as the governing body.
“The formation of WESA is a critical milestone on our way to grow esports globally, and we’re incredibly excited to work with some of the world’s best professional teams,” ESL Managing Director Ralf Reichert said in a statement. “Their continuous support to the formation and structuring of the association only further cemented our belief that esports is well on its way to become the leading source of entertainment of gaming fans around the world.”
The group—a coalition of teams, players, and event sponsors—aims to coordinate tournament scheduling and player contracts, prevent use of performance-enhancing drugs and gambling, introduce revenue sharing for teams, and implement standardized regulations.
Teams that have already signed on include Fnatic, Natus Vincere, EnVyUs, Virtus.Pro, Gamers2, Faze, mousesports, and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
“We have to professionalize everything,” Interim WESA Commissioner Pietro Fringuelli told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This is a $400 million industry, but there’s not one law, one policy, or one regulation that applies to all. It’s grown so much and is attracting so much interest from lots of different parties (that) we feel it’s time to regulate it.”
Players will also have a voice in the body through the Player Council, which will be composed of elected players who can then advocate for topics such as league policies, rulesets, and player transfers.
“WESA offers many opportunities to the member teams and their players, but we’re most excited about the esports’s first official player representative finally becoming a reality,” Team Virtus.Pro player Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas said in the release. “For the first time in the history of esports, players will come together to organize themselves, and that will enable all of us to get a real say in decisions that directly influence us. With a Player Council sitting at the table with the rest of the decision makers, we’re going to continue to improve the tournament and league organization.”
This announcement comes as the esports industry continues to grow in popularity. For example, the number of spectators who view videogame tournaments online and in-person in large arenas is estimated to reach 1 billion this year, and Atlanta’s Turner Sports is building a 300-seat esports arena in its studio that will allow the network to broadcast tournaments online and on live TV.
This summer’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be the first professional esports competition that will be played under WESA regulations. Since the competition is being put on by ESL and WESA doesn’t yet include many other leagues and teams from around the world, there exists some skepticism that the new organization could further fragment the esports world, but WESA hopes to bring structure and a standardized umbrella governing body to the growing industry.