Opinion: Long Term Esports Contracts Will be Tested in 2017

by Kevin Knocke

Traditional sports contracts are already well known for providing top players with long, multiyear deals loaded with financial incentives.

Those contracts are coming to esports now.

Esports has had isolated examples of multiyear contracts over the course of its history, but this wasn't really a trend until the last couple of years, and more specifically the end of 2016. Many major League of Legends LCS squads are signing their teams to multiyear contracts.

Right at the end of 2016, this started to happen a bit in CS:GO as well. Virtus.pro made news when they became the first major CS:GO squad to sign their entire team to a 4-year deal (a move this space called pretty darn "sports-like" about a month ago).

But up until this point, those isolated multiyear contracts referred to earlier haven't always held up. Players have become frustrated in many circumstances with the teams they're on and publicly request buyouts, meaning that contracts have been malleable at best and unenforceable at worst.

Honestly this is likely to change. Not just because of the amount of money being thrown around in the scene but because more established sports entities are starting to get involved in team ownership, and they will want to hold on to talent just like in their traditional pro sports teams.

So 2017 will be an interesting test of this. It remains to be seen if all of these new pro sports team infrastructures will create better situations on the teams themselves and cause players to want to stick around for a lot longer.

Also expect more player salaries to become transparent or leaked. Largely at first for players to use as leverage against team owners for bigger contracts, but eventually this will likely mirror traditional sports when players' unions come about and salaries could be made outright public.

But in any case, this will mark the next step in the continued transformation of esports into traditional sports. Last year the investors started getting in, this year they will start modeling esports organizations after the best practices they've already established in sports.

More esports influencing from Knocke: The NBA is Taking Over North American Esports | Esports Fans Take Note Of This Non-Esport Event | Broadcast Rights are the Play for New Esports CDNs