You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Twitch, FaceIt Launch eSports League Offering Teams Ownership Stakes

The Esports Championship Series launches with 'Counter-Strike' tourney with $3.5 million prize pool

Twitch and competitive-gaming platform startup FaceIt are shaking up the eSports world, joining forces to form a professional league that is offering teams co-ownership positions.

The companies say their Esports Championship Series will be the first video-game league to offer teams an ownership stake in the venture, akin to traditional pro sports leagues like the NFL. The initiative’s flagship league, “ECS – Counter-Strike,” will kick off Wednesday with a prize pool of $3.5 million, with players competing in Valve’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” first-person shooter game (pictured above).

With the ECS, Twitch and FaceIt will be competing with Activision Blizzard’s Major League Gaming and Electronic Sports League (ESL). It’s also squaring off against ELeague, the joint venture of Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG set to launch in May with a 10-week televised “Counter-Strike” tournament.

“A major part of Twitch’s success is built around our relationship with the eSports community, from the players and organizations who have made it a leading form of entertainment, to our own staff with deep roots in the scene,” said Stuart Saw, Twitch’s director of eSports strategy. “We’ve listened to what the teams and players are looking for, which is to have a bigger voice in the movement, and it inspired us to partner with FaceIt to launch the ECS.”

The ECS league will comprise 20 teams, 10 from North America and 10 from Europe. The “Counter-Strike” competition launches Wednesday with a closed qualifying round, with a pre-show at 8:30 a.m. Pacific and game time at 9 a.m.

The Esports Championship Series will be presented exclusively on Twitch, with every match streaming on FaceIt’s Twitch channel. Twitch and FaceIt also will pay for travel, accommodations, on-site concierge services, lounges, parties and other amenities for players.

“Players and teams are the heart of the eSports community and deserve the opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work and dedication to grow esports into a mainstream phenomenon,” said Michele Attisani, co-founder of FaceIt.

Twitch and FaceIt said all parties involved worked closely to determine a “strict code of conduct” for player treatment and payments. Teams and players will also be given seats on the league’s governing committee to help decide and enforce key aspects of the league, including regulatory framework, integrity, players’ welfare, holidays and best practices to ensure synergy among the league and its participants.

In addition, FaceIt said it will create a development league that will feed new teams and players into the ECS league. The development league will kick off with the launch of season 2 of the ECS.

Amazon-owned Twitch has more than 100 million viewers, who watch and talk about video games broadcast by more than 1.7 million gamers.

U.K.-based FaceIt, founded in 2012, says it has more than 4 million users logging in a total of over 6 million online game sessions per month. In January the company announced that it had raised $15 million in venture-capital funding from Anthos Capital, Index Ventures and United Ventures.

According to research firm Newzoo, about 21% of all hours watched on Twitch from July to December 2015 was eSports content, representing an average of some 79 million hours per month.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Stephen Fry, David Oyewelo and Nicole

    Stephen Fry, David Oyewelo and Nicole Scherzinger Among Celebs Campaigning for 'Movember' in Charity Video

    Hollywood stars are partnering with men’s health charity, Movember, to support the moustache and raise awareness about the org’s fundraising campaign. Comedians Stephen Fry, Stephen Merchant, actor David Oyewelo and survival expert Bear Grylls join former Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger in a new public service announcement explaining why the ‘stache is so important. Watch [...]

  • YouTube Originals A Heist With Markiplier

    YouTube's First Interactive Special Stars Markiplier and Has 31 Possible Endings

    YouTube is diving into interactive entertainment with a new special featuring popular gaming creator Markiplier as a black-clad super-criminal who tries to steal a priceless artifact from the world’s most secure museum. Along the lines of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” viewers will control the outcome of the interactive movie, “A Heist With Markiplier.” The first-person [...]

  • Euphoria HBO

    'It's an Explosion': Inside the Rising Costs of Making a Scripted TV Series

    When Apple TV plus launches on Nov. 1, it will do so with what’s arguably the most expensive new-series lineup in TV history. Among the streamer’s initial offerings are the drama “The Morning Show,” bearing a price tag believed to be more than $15 million an episode, and the dystopian sci-fi series “See,” which is [...]

  • Erika Nardini - Barstool Sports

    Listen: Barstool Sports CEO Learns From Digital Media's Past Mistakes

    Long before she became CEO of Barstool Sports, Erika Nardini had a front-row seat to the early days of the internet advertising world and she has no intention of repeating its errors. Over a career that saw stops at AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and Demand Media, she watched as the digital powerhouses of yesteryear cluttered the [...]

  • Dany Garcia

    Dany Garcia Invests in Privacy-Focused Social Media Service MeWe

    Dany Garcia, CEO of Seven Bucks Productions and founder, CEO and chairwoman of the Garcia Companies and TGC Management, has taken a minority investment in MeWe, a startup that positions itself as a social network rival to Facebook — but one that gives users full control over their own data and privacy. Garcia co-founded Seven [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg Quibi

    Quibi Says It Has Sold Out $150 Million First-Year Ad Inventory

    Nearly six months before Quibi is slated to hit the market, a cluster of large advertisers has committed millions in ad spending to the ambitious — and untested — premium mobile-video brainchild of Jeffrey Katzenberg. Quibi announced that it has sold out its $150 million advertising inventory for the first year. The startup’s category-exclusive ad partners [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content