The details surrounding professional players and their team contracts are hidden behind the closed doors of their organisations. With this being the case, players still seem to be moving around to different teams as they please I think it’s time to discuss the possibility of adding in a transfer window environment to professional Counter-Strike.
Now the idea of a transfer window is taken from a lot of traditional sports in where there is a month long period once or twice a year where players can be moved, bought or traded between the various organisations. Players are listed for transfer by teams and negotiations occur when one team manager approaches another. This is handled at a team level first and then at the player level once the organisation is happy with the transfer.
Having this system adapted to the CSGO professional scene in my mind would resemble something along the lines of how FIFA works with Football. The differences being that the players would be separated into regions (NA, EU, OCE etc) rather than leagues and these windows could occur more frequently instead of only happening once or twice every year.
The idea of having a transfer window after each major tournament allows for teams to shuffle their roster around and prepare for the next few months of competition without being blindsided by deals they aren’t made aware of. With the professional scene being a volatile mashup of player ego and salaries potentially being all over the place it would be nice to have a bit of structure. Bringing in this structure could also bring some much needed security for professional players.
This change protects player interests to know they will have employment for another period of months and it allows organisations to know when players from other teams/leagues would possibly consider jumping the fence to play somewhere else. What we have seen recently with teams like Titan and EnvyUS is players being more or less “poached” from under the nose of their team owners. Some regulation surrounding team owners/managers talking before players would need to be introduced if this particular system would be implemented.
Looking at it from a fan perspective I still see it as a boon for the industry. We would get to watch our favourite top tier teams perform at the next major and be either excited for what’s to come in the next 3 months or happy that faltering players could soon be replaced. People are constantly bringing up phrases like “the NA shuffle” never knowing when players will move around. I think with this introduction you could potentially see 2 or 3 shuffles in a year as players have the opportunity to move around and have an avenue to create the best teams in their regions.
Now, who would go about enforcing this kind of change because it can’t just be an agreement amongst every single team unless Valve wants to get involved? So, with the big elephant called WESA in the room – it would be something I would expect them to try and implement for teams that are participating with their organisation. Whether or not they bring in some form of exclusivity to the top tier I feel that it’s not going to have the grand impact that people are thinking it will. Intentions aside I think that what WESA is presenting itself to be would change the landscape of CSGO for the better and the possibility of transfer windows would probably be one part of that.
Unfortunately with that being said, while the best teams in the world are moving players/money around I can see where this may hinder some of the tier 2/3 teams from branching out and competing. Without having the amount of money to put players on salaries it would become hard to participate in the big leagues. To this I’d say, seeing as CSGO is quickly rising in popularity it’s one of the best times to pick up a lower tier team and get into the scene. Sponsors and players are realising there are teams out there that only require a bit of structure before bursting on to the scene.
We have seen the quick rise of Brazilian CSGO teams throughout the last 12 months and recently been witness to long running teams like Virtus.Pro (more like Virtus.Premier now) be relegated to a lower division due to poor performances. So anything can happen over the span of months as the meta is constantly evolving. I would think that having the option of definitively knowing who is willing to transfer at particular times will allow teams to predict their upcoming changes and watch new talent as it emerges.
Adding transfer windows isn’t necessarily the biggest or best change to make the professional CSGO scene more legitimate but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. We will have to see in the future if organisations like WESA are able to implement and regulate trades and provide both the teams and players the structure and security they sorely need.