ESL’s VP on merger with FACEIT: "We're not trying to go for a monopoly"

ESL’s Vice President Michal Blicharz, speaking to, commented on the merger of his company with FACEIT in a $1.5 billion deal. The head assured that the community should not be afraid of a monopoly on the professional CS:GO scene.

In Counter-Strike we have a publisher that historically has suggested that they don't want a monopoly. We're not trying to go for a monopoly, the immediate plan for the ESL Pro Tour isn't going to change at all regarding the number of tournaments or the days in the calendar. ESL Pro League is not suddenly going to double in length. Our immediate plan is to open up much more and to improve what we have as much as possible. If we're being honest with each other there are areas in which we're behind relative to our competitors in the space. For instance, BLAST has done highly polished and entertaining broadcasts. We need to catch up.

During the interview, Blicharz partially repeated the statements from the previously unveiled plans of ESL FACEIT Group to develop platforms for young players and support the North American region.

Without new players developing we will not have Counter-Strike five to 10 years from now. If you want to build an ecosystem with the biggest longevity, that's where you begin. So for us, the investment is in connecting all of the platforms and the products so that if your 15 or 16-year-old cousin starts a FACEIT account, he or she will clearly know what the path to becoming the next s1mple and m0NESY is.

We also know how important North America is in all of this, so we're paying extra attention there because we know how the ‘Europe vs. North America’ narrative has driven Counter-Strike from the times of the first NIP, SK, Complexity, etc. All of those rivalries have been very good for Counter-Strike and we want to make sure that the two historically strong continents remain strong and that the rest catch up.

The new owner of ESL and FACEIT is a company owned by Saudi Arabia, the country that is often mentioned in reports of human rights violations. Blicharz also commented on the complaints of part of the community regarding the moral side of the deal.

Obviously some backlash was expected, but ultimately what we expect is to be judged by what we do and what our products look like. There are many questions about whether we'll stop doing this or that, but the values of the company remain the same, the code of conduct remains the same, the reason we do things, the people running things, the way we think, it all remains the same. It's very much going to be the same ESL and FACEIT, and if it's not, then we should absolutely be judged for that.

Geopolitics is not my thing, but as I understand it, Saudi Arabia wants to shift its economy from oil to something else. We haven't suddenly become a promotion vehicle, this is just a shifting of their economy from natural resources to technology, so it's primarily a business investment from a group that wants to be a valuable part of gaming and esports.

The information about the sale of ESL and FACEIT, which became the most expensive deal in the history of esports, was disclosed on January 24.