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Jul 13, 2023Jul 13, 2023

Valve, the publisher for the popular game Counter-Strike, created massive upheaval in the esports landscape today in an effort to take back control of its cash cow. Valve issued new requirements for esports competitions, which will result in the suspension of business partnerships (i.e., giving certain teams major tournament prequalification) for third-party tournament organizers in 2025. Currently, Blast and ESL FaceIt Group hold such partnerships with top teams for direct invites to their pro leagues/events. Additionally, Valve wants all compensation for running a CS:GO event made public. Valve seeks to do away with the automatic invites, as the publisher has taken control over a team-ranking system, both regionally and globally, in recent years through a proprietary system. By contrast, third-party organizers have used HLTV, a website dedicated to Counter-Strike, as a de facto ranking system. The system grants points and is advantageous to teams that can afford travel and enter numerous events. Teams in franchised leagues were at a huge advantage, simply by garnering points in those leagues, whereas other teams were shut out. Some Counter-Strike teams were offered bonuses for being ranked in HLTV’s top five. Notable partnered teams in both the ESL and Blast leagues include Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan and Complexity. ESL and Blast responded with statements today that they will make changes to their leagues/tournaments by 2025. ESL SVP/Game Ecosystems Ulrich Schulze posted on social media that his company is adjusting. "We will shift our tournament revenue sharing model from selected teams to all teams participating starting in 2025. We will announce more details on this in the coming months," he posted. -- Kevin Hitt & Hunter Cooke

Inter Miami CF lands more investment, Arizona inches closer to leaving the Pac-12 and Dragon Seats debuts new hot/cold combo football benches.

Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas on Friday night will play host to the return of SlamBall, and league co-founder Mike Tollin credits an organic groundswell among fans as a key impetus in bringing the sport back to life in the U.S. Tollin, who also serves as Mandalay Sports Media co-chair, spoke with SBJ’s Austin Karp about the relationship with broadcast partner ESPN, how the funding efforts exceeded expectations, as well as the potential roles both sports wagering and social media could play.

SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports — Charles Altchek SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an interview with Charles Altchek, president of MLS Next Pro and a member of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2023. Altchek talks with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about how joining the Mets early in his career led directly to his influential position at Major League Soccer, the opportunity to work without a net when he helped launch MLS Next Pro, and how he’s handled his biggest career and management challenges. SBJ I Factor is a monthly podcast offering interviews with sports executives who have been recipients of one of the magazine’s awards, such as Forty Under 40, Game Changers and others.

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