Esports Law: Let’s Talk Esports Unions

Apr 05, 2018

esports unions law and lawyer Thomas “Morte” Kerbusch and  Scott “SirScoots” Smith are leaving on an esports train to Unionville.

“Every day I sign another guy,” enthused Smith about his recent efforts to develop an athletes’ collective for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. “I would say 70 or so have signed an official membership document that they are for the players association, are behind the players association, they want to be in the players association.”

Is The CS:GO Really A Union?

While industry pundits (yours truly included) may use the term “union” and “unionization” as shorthand, due to international considerations, the CS:GO players association is not formally unionizing under U.S. law, which requires “authorization cards”; instead, participants are signing “membership letters.”

Esports Unions: Overwatch

Meanwhile in Overwatch world, athletes and lawyers are crafting a different type of players’ association than the CS:GO crew. Ellen Zavian, an attorney working on the effort, compared Overwatch’s unionization plans to the NFL and MBA. “I don’t see this PA (players association) as any different than any other PA just because it’s esports. So this isn’t something that will be a lighthearted step. This will be a big step,” she promised.

Esports Unions: League of Legends

A League of Legends union is also in the works. But instead of an athlete-coach-led initiative, Riot Games is helming the initiative. But as Compete points out, the model invites excessive corporate control. Riot league’s Chris Greeley, however, assures people that the players have no reason to fear. He told Compete:

“At some point in the future if the players decided that they want to unionize and register with the NLRB, they will have the option to forgo Riot funding and self-fund. It is our expectation and our hope that that happens at some point in the future, but in the meantime this association is designed to give the players a seat at the table.”

Got Esports Legal Questions or Concerns? Let’s Talk.

The Gordon Law Group works with esports athletes, teams, and industry businesses on everything from contract negotiations to arbitration and compliance. Our legal team can also facilitate unionization consults for players, sponsors, teams, and leagues. Get in touch today. We look forward to speaking with you.

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