Opinion: VP Signing Players to a 4-Year Contract is a Very Sports-Like Thing, and That's Awesome

by Kevin Knocke

Multiyear contracts are coming to multiple esports right now.

While in League of Legends and very occasionally in other esports there have been isolated examples of multi-year contracts offered to top performers, but it's certainly not the norm. Outside of LoL, this concept has not been in practice for a while, and in fact, teams tend to have super short lifecycles in certain games like Dota 2 where squads famously blow up their rosters after major events.

But the trend seems to be shifting.

This latest LoL offseason has seen a number of multi-year signings in several regions. And CS:GO saw a few of their own. But the biggest multi-year deal of all was just signed.

Virtus.Pro, already known as one of the most stable, long term rosters in all of CS:GO, just signed their whole team to a four year long deal that keeps them together through 2020. Boy that sounds an awful lot like sports, right?

Now VP is already different in a lot of ways. They're a squad that's a little bit older than most, they have families in a lot of cases, and they've been more selective about the events they attend. WWG's Kevin Hitt has speculated that they've matured, they're not interested in the grind of an 18-year old aspiring pro's schedule.

Hitt says this about the value of an organization like VP that understands long term player and emotional development:

"Virtus.Pro is one of the very few esports organizations that understands that every team will have its problems, and aside from those that truly can't be fixed, keeping the team together as a unit this long has very distinct advantages. Among those are working as a until, having solid strats for each player, and there is something to be said about a group of people emotionally dedicated to each other."

Expect other teams to follow suit and for this to become more the norm. CS:GO is already seeing teams starting to join together and call for less events. So when you have lots of money coming into an organization and can afford these sorts of long term contracts, you can also afford to be more choosy about the events you attend.

Now it remains to be seen whether this strategy will work. Obviously it's done well in traditional sports, and maybe shorter player development cycles are more appropriate in esports. VP, even with choosing events more selectively and taking time to prepare, has fallen to 9th in the WWG CS:GO Team Rankings and has not had a lot of success recently.

This is likely an anomaly. Sports has proven out that long term player development is key for team growth, and VP is on the right track here.

More esports influencing from Knocke: VP Signing Players to a 4-Year Contract is a Very Sports-Like Thing, and That's Awesome | Big, Convoluted Brackets Make for Bad Storylines | Overwatch Esports is Getting Better to Watch... Slowly