The World Esports Association, otherwise known as WESA, founded in May 2016 by Fnatic, Natus Vincere, EnVyUs, Virtus.pro, G2 Esports, mousesports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and FaZe Clan, which later left the association, together with ESL, one of the largest esports companies in the world, is now set to provide arbitration services.
According to a press release on wesa.gg, “As a more efficient alternative to lengthy and costly litigation, the Arbitration Court offers a legal framework that can be used to resolve a range of issues, including contract disputes, prize money pay out and distribution, financial misconduct and Player representation. The issues will be decided by an impartial panel of three Arbitrators, although the parties can also agree to utilize a single arbitrator (sole Arbitrator) for certain disputes. The decisions at the end of the confidential proceedings are final and there are no appeals.”
There’s no doubt that something like this is sorely needed in the eSports scene, however, there are several problems with this otherwise welcome initiative. First of all, despite being called World Esports Association, the company is only involved with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at the moment. The first tournament run according to WESA regulations is ESL Pro League.
Second, the only teams that belong to WESA are European-based. In fact, several American organizations established their own organization, the Professional Esports Association in response to the formation of WESA. Calling yourself World anything is presumptuous, unless you have members from all over the world, not a single continent. The same could be said for the word Esports in WESA’s title, when the only game it has dealings in is Counter-Strike.
Finally, offering to arbitrate disputes is all well and good, however, pretending you have any real power to actually enforce your decisions among non-member organizations is just false advertising. Let’s imagine that OpTic Gaming and Selfless Gaming are having a dispute and go for arbitration to WESA. WESA makes a decision. It might be a correct decision, but what gives WESA the authority to actually enforce their rulings onto OpTic Gaming and Selfless Gaming, two North American orgs, which aren’t members of WESA? Absolutely nothing. And that’s ignoring the possible conflict of interest when a non-WESA team has a dispute with one of the orgs, which founded WESA.
WESA is a great idea in theory, WESA arbitration is superb too, however, the problem is that it’s way too small to be able to actually enforce its rulings. As long as WESA doesn’t have at least the majority, if not the entirety of world-class eSports organizations, including teams like Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9, and Team Liquid, among its ranks, initiatives likes this will stay welcome steps in the right direction, which are, ultimately, useless. Still, despite the scepticism, I would like nothing more than for the whole thing to work out in the future. After all, even though it might not work yet, the Association as a whole and arbitration in particular ARE sorely needed.