1. How is Championship Gaming Series different from other leagues?
“Other gaming organizations are not true leagues; rather, they are tours or tournaments. Championship Gaming Series (CGS) is the first worldwide professional video gaming league, offering a league structure similar to that of other major sports[...].”
Wrong. There is a league structure in only one of seven regions, North America. The recently released Pan Asian schedule for 2008 (April 30th – May 3rd) actually shows a decrease in attendance for the world finals (which ironically isn't in a league structure either). There are only two teams qualifying from the Pan-Asian finals this season, instead of four like last year. Cuts in other regions aren't yet publicized, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them announced.
3. What does it mean to be a professional gamer?
“CGS athletes represent the world’s most elite video gamers. Competitors who play for CGS teams display remarkable skill, reflexes, precision and commitment to compete and win on a level unmatched by other gamers.”
Wrong. Using the World Cyber Games 2007 as a comparative benchmark, because of the games used and proximity of the competition to the CGS World Finals themselves, we can clearly see that the CGS does not in fact have the best gamers in the world.
Project Gotham Racing 3 – Only one of six CGS players managed to get past the group stages. Wesley 'Ch0mpr' Cwiklo (Chicago Chimera) eventually finishing second behind Wouter 'Handewasser' Van Someren, with You-Chen 'D2C-BURBERRYqq' Liu finishing third.
FIFA – Only two of the last thirty two were CGS players. Filipe 'KreeganBG' Stoyne (LA compLexity) advanced only as far as the last eight. The winner was Daniel 'SK.Hero' Schellhase, beating Victor 'MYM] Delfin-1' Sanchez Munoz, with Ognyan '[LnX]Slavkov' Tomov finishing third.
Dead or Alive 4 – With 5 of the last 8 being contracted CGS players, it's surprising to see that despite such dominance only Jeremy 'black_mamba' Florence (Chicago Chimera) walked away with a medal (a gold one at that). Niklas 'SkatanMilla' Lagerborg and Carl 'perfect_legend' White finishing second and third respectively.
"The Term will commence upon mutual execution of the Agreement and extend until the earlier of (i) 16 months and (ii) the commencement of the CGS 2009 North American season as determined by CGS. The League may exercise an option to renew the Agreement for the 2009 North American Season on the same terms and conditions."
With the recently released combine and draft packet, it was made clear which direction the CGS is heading in. The first warning sign is of deliberate sensationalism and false advertising, regarding the widely accepted $30,000 wage packet. The players never received $30,000. Each player was paid $2,500 a month, for the duration of nine months, making $22,500.
There are two cases to be argued here. If a competing player decides not to sign the new contract, they only ever made $22,500, $7,500 short. In order to meet the published figure, they've to sign the new contract which introduces some rather radical changes from the previous season.
Gotfrag published an extensive overview of how the new system plays out and I advise anyone interested to check it out. It's strange though, that the lowest level wage actually remains the same ($2500 per month) as last season, but the players will still be making less overall than the advertised $30,000 (except for the star franchise player who receives $1,500 more). The CGS gives with one hand, and takes with the other.
This is quite irrelevant in its self though, the worrying reality is that the CGS is expecting to get away with paying equal or better skilled players (unless there's an exodus of talent it can't get any worse), less money. Though the idea of rewarding better skilled players is fine, it highlights the problems in the CGS system itself.
The enforced combine and limited safety net (general managers could only 'keep' five of ten players) meaning star players like Marcus “zet” Sundstrum, have to fight in the combine alongside other potential draftees in order to safely regain his position within the league. To top things off, he will only receive a maximum of $16,500 in comparison to his 'former' team mate Danny “fRoD” Montaner's $31,500, and has no guarantee of another team stealing him before LA compLexity re-draft him.
The up and coming combine will show how legitimate the role of the general manager is, how favoritism and bias (amongst other reasons) may undermine the attempt to improve the skill level within the CGS, and how through careful manipulation of rule sets and contracts, the CGS has managed to completely destroy North American Counter Strike and its heritage.
The undeniable facts are, 90% of players in the CGS will receive less money than the previous season. There are fewer teams attending the world finals and the 'league' hasn't progressed at all. Expansion and evolution? Not quite. I think even the CGS zealots will have trouble defending their league when the animals start leaving the proverbial ark.
 Chris 'bootman' Boutte, http://dallasvenom.thecgs.com/The_Chopping_Block_LA_Complexity
 Danny 'fRoD' Montaner
- mymym.com [one article]
- SK-Gaming.com [multiple articles, columns and coverage]
- ESReality.com [one column]
- Crossfire.nu [multiple articles, columns and coverage]
eSports media achievements:
- Long-listed for eSports scene journalist Award 2008
- Nominated for best eSports coverage 2008 (SK)
- Nominated for best eSports coverage 2007 (SK)
- Published in Times Higher Education (THE); online and print.
- Long-listed for the Guardian's 2009 International Development Journalism competition; online.
- CGS European Qualifier and Draft
- Multiplay i31
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