While letting the fans decide which teams they want to see the most in a league, it can also go spectacularly wrong, as ESL is finding out. For their Pro League, the organizer let fans vote on which teams should be allowed to play. That’s a beautiful initiative in theory.
The controversy started when Virtus.pro, the recent winners of ELEAGUE Season 1, were relegated from the league, only to be brought back when ESL added them to a poll, populated by less popular teams, deciding which teams will have a chance to participate. To surprise of exactly nobody, Virtus.pro crushed the poll with 76% of the vote and got another chance.
Now, they will take part in a wild card tournament. If they win, it will in essence save them from being relegated. That would be the first time that the Wild Card would be hijacked for that instead of bringing in new teams, as was its original purpose. Understandably, the CS:GO community is convinced that ESL rigged the whole thing to somehow make it legal for Virtus.pro to keep competing, doing it to increase the league’s marketability at the cost of its competitive integrity.
The scandal reached new heights following a poll in North America, when Luminosity, the Brazilian organization which used to have the best roster in the world just a couple of months before with FalleN, coldzera, fnx, fer, and TACO, won the poll with 46% of all votes, despite having a new, inexperienced roster with no real achievements to speak of, because of fervent support by their Brazilian fans. As Duncan “Thorin” Shields pointed out on Twitter, “It’s quite ridiculous to let people from a country outside of North America sway the vote for who play in an NA league.” I have to agree. The one team which lost the most in this whole shebang, was Team SoloMid, which was in third place with 22% in the poll. Echo Fox was second, with 29%.
Luminosity, Echo Fox, and TSM. Keeping in mind that it’s an NA league, Luminosity has no business being there in the first place. TSM is arguably a better team than both Echo Fox AND Luminosity, which is precisely why there’s such a ruckus over the whole matter. While it’s nice in theory to let people help out their favorite team, it should never come above competitive integrity and making sure that the strongest lineup of teams actually compete when it comes to it. While laudable in their effort to include fans, ESL royally screwed up and dropped the ball when it came to everything else. Hopefully, they can learn their lesson for next time.