WESA has announced that it is cracking down on multiple team ownership under a new set of rules adopted by the federation.
The new comprehensive regulations, which come into effect immediately, include a Multi-Team Ownership Prohibition, under which "no team is permitted to be completely or partially owned or controlled by a person or entity that owns or controls another esports team or organization participating at WESA sanctioned events."
Teams who already have a pre-existing multi-team ownership in place may be granted "up to 18 months to come to compliance", WESA added.
"At WESA, we are committed to creating industry-wide standards in esports that benefit member teams, their players and the esports industry at large," said WESA Executive Chairman and Commissioner Ken Hershman.
"These new standards and regulations will further our goal of better professionalizing esports and ensure that all of our organizations are operating on the same level playing field."
This new rule is aimed at tackling what has become a major issue in esports in recent months. An investigation by The Esports Observer uncovered that ESforce Holding, the parenting company behind Virtus.pro, owns the media rights to Natus Vincere and two-thirds of SK Gaming's shares, raising concerns about a potential conflict of interest, which were played down by SK Managing Director Alexander Müller at the time.
Copenhagen-based esports marketing and media rights company RFRSH Entertainment also appears to be affected by the rule as it currently manages four teams: Astralis, Heroic, GODSENT, and Norse. In an interview with HLTV.org, RFRSH CEO and founder Nikolaj Nyholm stated that he does "not see a conflict" in multiple team ownership under the company's model, adding that "each team is and will be its own entity."
Virtus.pro and Na`Vi are both founding members of WESA, a federation created in May by eight esports teams together with ESL. WESA currently has just seven members after FaZe withdrew from the governing body, citing concern over the federation's ability to accomplish its mission statement.
The ESL Pro League is currently the only esports competition that is played under WESA regulations. Virtus.pro, Na`Vi, Astralis and Heroic compete in the Pro League's European division, while SK Gaming play in the North American division.
The new set of rules adopted by WESA include a Personal Code of Conduct, which establishes the "rules for behavior and conduct within WESA as well as with external parties", and a Sanctions Regulations, which "install a clear and unambiguous set of rules and methods for leveling sanctions, the permitted scope of any sanctions, as well as a process for appeal."