After the last few weeks, I can’t see any merit in an argument that the state of esports business is fine, that we have no need for things like federations around our growing sports.

Yea, I’m a bit behind the curve on this one. I’m just now getting back into some semblance of a groove post-move. The movers lost two key parts that allow my desk to stand without wobbling like a drunk, so I’m not yet fully reconfigured to do things like podcasts or commentary, and thus the office is still a disaster two weeks out, but at the least I’m finding time to get out to the coffee shop and fire some posts off again.

Back to this Stephano nonsense, a situation so ridiculous that it catapulted this kid from ‘Who?’ to international notoriety in a matter of hours. He’s on Millenium, then his contract expires, then gets what was apparently a gift horse offer from Complexity, announces he’s taking it, and then looks it straight in the mouth. Whoops.

I’m not sure of what heft the penalty levied against Stephano was, and I don’t particularly think it matters. Complexity and Millenium may consider the matter closed, but Stephano has truly screwed himself for years in the larger scene. What happens when this newly minted agreement with Millenium expires? Youthful naivete can only excuse so much; this is a flip-flop that will be remembered for years. He’s literally given every team that may enter into negotiations with him in the future, Millenium included, a 50 point advantage before they’ve even started. How is he to be trusted; how can we be sure he won’t pull his supposed rights under French contract law again, back out of an agreement, and deliver another team another shiner?

Really thought, that’s just his problem. He’ll have to work twice as hard to get half as much for years to come, that’s the lesson for him. It’s a pretty obvious one.

Yet, the vast majority of the talk from the talking heads were centered around the player, and that obvious lesson, and not that the scene is woefully ill-equipped to be approaching things such as international signings and transfers.

Yea, it was awfully nice of Alex Garfield of Evil Geniuses to step in and act as an arbiter of sorts for this dispute, but is that going to be an acceptable way of resolving every dispute that comes up between disparate teams operating under disparate laws? Just call Alex? What happens when EG is embroiled in something like this?

Look, this is why federations and associations and other conglomerations exist in sports; they provide the essential framework to allow for conflicts, between the various parties that keep a sport running, to be resolved in a straightforward and consistent manner so that each one doesn’t threaten to bring the sport’s forward progress to a halt.

A federation would allow teams to establish a common set of ground rules for negotiating with players. It would allow teams to establish a means of arbitration; a way of settling disputes without having to get all litigious with each other. It would allow teams to pool resources and setup a baseline for player contracts that work better across international lines, so that everyone’s on the same page from the start, and things like the above have a smaller chance of happening in the first place.

The lesson that the scene at large should be learning from this mess is the importance of having mechanisms in place ahead of time to deal with inevitable conflicts between players and teams, and the importance of doing this self-organization before something ends up going to court and damaging us all. It would only take one large-profile lawsuit to establish a new characterization of esports as a bunch of spoiled nerds that enjoy suing each other over video games. It’s far too easy.

Having a libertarian scene comprised of hundreds of individual entites with completely adversarial relationships will simply not cut it the larger the scene gets. The time to get our house in order is now, before something actually bad happens.