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Opinion: eSports Needs a Governing Body, WESA Is Not It


eSports is in desperate need of a governing body. The reasons are many and they are diverse. Visas, a uniform drug policy, and ensuring player's rights are only a few. A centralized governing body per title, per genre, etc. can certainly codify the process by which individual leagues or titles draft rules. Similarly, a governing body could provide for uniform alternative dispute resolution, a legal mechanism that is becoming increasingly necessary in the eSports community. We need a governing body. Unfortunately, the World Esports Association (WESA) is not it.

By now, most of you are probably familiar with the numerous issues that plague the still nascent WESA. Several groups, including MLG and Gfinity have been left out, disagreements over representation have already cause one team to leave , and the revenue model is questionable at best. However, the biggest issue with WESA is one of perception. That is, before it has even held a tournament, most people already think its unfair. This of course goes beyond the unfortunate comparison to FIFA, but that certainly did not help.

WESA is controlled by eight teams. For a league that can direct and manage a tournament that potentially involves one hundred teams, that is slightly problematic. But what is more problematic is that those eight teams will also participate in that tournament. In an interview with Gamespot, WESA co founder Ralf Reichert acknowledges that these eight teams were chosen because of their experience with the league and preexisting relationships with tournament organizers.


Ralf Reichert - CEO of Turtle Entertainment (ESL)

Let's think about what that means. Teams that have a preexisting relationship with organizers are allowed to vote on and therefore influence the rules set by those same organizers. The other teams are left out in the cold and must accept the decision. At best that provides more power to certain teams than others for reasons that have nothing to do with their prowess in the arena. At worst, it is patently unfair. For a body which is supposed to improve eSports' struggling image through transparency and fairness, this is off to a bad start. Fairness aside, any team participating in a WESA sanctioned Counterstrike tournament that is not a part of this "Elite 8" is going to feel "less than" at best. Imagine only New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Seattle were allowed to vote on the rules in the NFL Playoffs.

To preserve and increase its legitimacy, eSports needs to have a legislative process that is uimpeachable, or at least delivers that perception. It is true that due to the sheer volume of titles, with teams ranging from parties of 1 to 50+, one widespread body for all of eSports may not be practical. For Riot and other tournament-active Publishers, the answer could simply be more of the same. However, for titles where the publishers keep the tournaments at an arm's length, there needs to be a comprehensive rulemaking process that involves all eligible teams. In the absence of that, publishers should develop a centralized, non-participatory authority, that creates the rules by which all competitors must abide. It's a win-win. More transparency equates to lower barriers of entry, which means more competition, which means more people spend money on the game.

This is not to say that WESA or its founders are nefarious, quite the opposite actually. WESA is a noble and necessary effort that is driving the conversation towards better eSports governance and regulation. Imperfection does not equal bad intentions. However, we can and should improve on this model. eSports is on the precipice of something huge and if the industry plays its cards right, it can reach the mainstream. First and foremost never compare anything to FIFA!


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