Counter-Strike publisher Valve has instructed seven professional organizations to resolve the conflict of interest within the next five months, reports HLTV, which has received the relevant email.
In the spring, Valve asked teams in the ESL One: Road to Rio qualifiers to report potential conflicts of interest. According to Valve, the conflicts of interest they found three are threats to the dignity and reputation of major value tournaments.
One of the teams involved in the situation is the Finnish ENCE, of which 8.8 per cent is owned by former CS professional Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen. Kovanen, 32, works for the American Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), which in turn owns MIBR.
Kovanen has commented on the issue in a Twitter thread, where it was discussed how to handle the situation. Kovanen does not see a big problem in this, because, for example, the major tournament organizer ESL and the G2 Esports organization have connections with each other. Kovanen's percentage is reportedly higher on paper, but less important.
- Apparently found to be too small to mark, a bit of a peculiar decision imo compared to the fact that it is a major organizer. You would think it would be a problem if these minority steaks [small owners] are problematic, Kovanen tweeted about ESL-G2 connections and his own share.
Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen is a former CS professional. He currently works in Los Angeles for the major esports player IGC.
Photo: Jussi Jääskeläinen
Ilta-Sanomat reported on Kovanen's situation already last autumn. At that time, Mika Kuusisto, CEO of ENCE, did not yet see the need to resolve a potential conflict of interest, as Kovanen does not have an active role in the organization. Kovanen has once been founding ENCE with his friends.
- He was already working in the financial sector at the time and is now a quiet minority shareholder who does not have an operational role in what we do. Tom is left with shares in the history of the organization. When the operation is led from Finland and he lives in the United States, it is practically not even possible for the organization to take an active part in the operation, Kuusisto commented to IS last autumn.
Read more: IS cleared the owners behind ENCE - two current CS players as shareholders
Now Kuusisto tells IS that ENCE respects Valve's request to resolve a potential conflict of interest. Although ENCE is a profitable company (2019 turnover € 2.7 million, profit € 90,000), it has not raised capital or taken on investors, which has a financial impact on resolving the situation.
- We have limited opportunities for financing arrangements with an individual shareholder. Tom has no power over ENCE in any respect, but has been a passive owner since early 2018, Kuusisto tells IS.
According to Kuusisto, the situation is not the best, but ENCE believes that Valve will find a solution before the next major tournament, which is scheduled to take place in November in Brazil.
Read more: Fans in Japan and Tahiti, turnover tenfold in two years - Finnish ENCE grows at a rapid pace
Mika Kuusisto is the CEO of ENCE.
In addition to ENCE and MIBR, Valve demands action from Yeah, FaZe, Evil Geniuses, Dignitas and Ninjas in Pajamas. Swedish CS legend Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund still owns part of NiP, where he played from 2012 to 19, although he currently represents Dignita.
Also in the spotlight is the Brazilian organization Yeah, whose four owners (Epitacio “TACO” de Melo, Ricardo “dead” Sinigaglia, Marcelo ”coldzera” David, Wilton “zews” Prado) represent another organization at the same time. Sinigaglia and de Melo belong to the MIBR, David plays in FaZ and Prado coaches Evil Geniuses.
Yeah has a business deal on player deals with IGC, the owner of MIBR. Under the current arrangement, the IGC can purchase two Yeah players for a certain amount during a calendar year.
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Valve has been passive about CS’s conflicts of interest in previous years, even though the company has intervened with its second popular racing game, the Dota 2.