Danish tournament organizer BLAST, known for organizing CSGO events, has announced a restructuring of its prize money payouts. The announcement was made in a post on BLAST’s website on Wednesday, September 16.
Going forward, BLAST stated it will reduce the prize pools for events, but put additional money towards participation fees. Essentially, this will benefit its partner organizations for BLAST Premier. The idea is that the total sum of money paid out by BLAST will remain unchanged, but the participation fees paid to organizations will increase while the prize money is reduced.
Why The Change?
You’ve guessed it – the pandemic. BLAST cites coronavirus as the reason for the change, stating that it believes the new structure “will help sustain the broader ecosystem and ensure we can all emerge stronger together.
The decision has been made in agreement with its CSGO partner teams, although specific figures about the prize pool money have not been released. But what about non-partner teams? Well, BLAST says this will benefit non-partner teams in 2021 also. Put simply, this change will ensure that money is spread more evenly to all teams that participate in BLAST events, regardless of their success in tournaments.
The main issue with this restructuring lies in how it will impact professional esports players. Traditionally, most of the prize money won by the team is given directly to the players. Since the prize money for winning a tournament is reduced, it means the income of players will likely also be reduced.
While BLAST partner teams involved in the current CSGO circuit have been notified of the change, the Counter-Strike Professional Players’ Association (CSPPA) says they were not notified. The CSPPA released a statement on Twitter saying they were not consulted or notified about the change, and that while they understand the importance of protecting the sustainability of the ecosystem, players should be included in these decisions as key stakeholders. It’s hard to argue with this point, after all, the players are the ones keeping the tournaments going. They are the lifeblood of the esports industry.
Some industry leaders have also called into question the real motivation for this change. While esports (like almost every industry) have been impacted by COVID-19, it’s not clear how big of a role coronavirus played in this decision. CSGO community figurehead Scott Smith suggested that there were discussions of this change before the pandemic hit. Is the pandemic a convenient way to usher it in? It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s certainly possible. When you consider that BLAST has recently been under public scrutiny for partnering with NEOM, a controversial Saudi Arabian tech-city, it makes sense that they want this announcement to go as quietly as possible.
If you missed the NEOM story, then here’s a quick recap. BLAST partnered with NEOM on July 28 in the hopes of making the Saudi city a regional esports hub. However, BLAST came under severe criticism from the esports community, including teams, talent, and fans. The denouncement largely centered around ethics. Gaming content creator HUGO TV tweeted, “if you don’t support human rights then I can’t support you”. BLAST later terminated the partnership.