bsl: "It is only natural that ESL hosts another Major at some point"

We caught up with ESL's new Tournament Director, Jonas "bsl" Alsaker Vikan, ahead of the ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals to know more about his first months on the job and what lies ahead for the company.

Jonas "⁠bsl⁠" Alsaker Vikan, who represented some high-profile teams in Counter-Strike 1.6, including Made in Brazil and the iconic NoA, was appointed by ESL as its new Tournament Director in August, almost four years after co-hosting the first Major, DreamHack Winter 2013, alongside Scott "SirScoots" Smith.

With the Pro League Finals about to start, we sat down with the Norwegian to get to know his first impressions of his new job and to discuss topics concerning ESL missing three Majors in a row, the issues with locked rosters ahead of the Odense event, the plans for IEM Katowice 2018, and more.

You have been with ESL for four months now. What are your initial impressions of the job and the state of the scene, compared to when you co-hosted the first Major, in late 2013?

When I did that Major in 2013 I felt a sense of ...resurgence within the scene. There were some dark years after the credit crunch for esports. CS as a game had also struggled, even though I always thought the concept was something that would always work, no matter the level of the visuals. However, the first version of GO was very raw. That Major was kind of the first sign that the glory years of 2001-2007 could return. And they have, both in terms of richness of competition and size - but they have also adjusted financially so that players, casters and other people in the industry can actually make a very good living off of this.

Now that people are getting paid I think it extremely important for everyone; players, managers, talent, organizers, pundits - to remember where it, or we came from, that there were some dark and difficult years - and to recognize and be cognizant about the reason why this all could come back tenfold just like we dreamt: the fans that spend their time and hard-earned money to follow the sport, its stars and the competition so passionately. With great power comes great responsibility.

Could you clarify us about what your job entails? What are your main responsibilities?

I oversee all of our pro competitions at the highest level: ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters and Pro League. My responsibilities lie in execution and increasing the quality of all of these [tournaments], no matter where we are holding them. Part of the latter is trying to liaise with teams and their representatives to solicit feedback and ignite discussion.

I make or partake in decisions and rulings in tournament-related matters such as equipment, venue, player logistics and any disputes that arise. I uphold the rules and contribute to amend them from time to time. Also, I try to keep my ears to the ground and engage with fans through various avenues.

bsl has been working for ESL since August

You were gone for a while. Could you explain to us what you did between that Major and your appointment by ESL?

I was working exclusively as an investigative journalist in a “normal” newspaper. The job meant spending 2-5 months on investigative projects on subjects like online distribution of anabolic steroids, organized sale of narcotics from the dark web, the overseas finances and properties of a meditation society and how the FBI illegally hacked over 40 Norwegian citizens who were arrested because of it without anyone knowing about the American involvement.

The work was very difficult, but also incredibly interesting and rewarding. I was lucky and good enough to be given some awards, chief among them a Skup-diploma, considered one of Norway's highest honors for investigative journalism.

I was never truly gone, though, always reading and watching esports from the shadows ;)

There has been some speculation about the possibility of ESL hosting another big event in Brazil, where the EPL Season 4 Finals took place. Could you shed some light on this? As someone with a soft spot for Brazil, you would certainly be thrilled if this became a reality…

I think I will take a pass on this one and let speculation run rampant

Last month, PGL CEO Silviu Stroie took a jab at ESL and accused it of trying to monopolise the event circuit with “a very mediocre, at best, CS:GO product”. What are your thoughts on his comments?

I am sure Silviu is a nice guy but I haven't met him yet. He is obviously entitled to his opinion. Now, I can only speak for the three months I have been here, and I don't feel that four dramatic hours of SK and Liquid fighting down to the very last round for a spot in the finals in New York, or NiP vs FaZe's epic duel over five maps in Oakland was mediocre, at best.

The next IEM World Championship event will have $500,000 - twice as much as this year’s event. Does this represent an effort from ESL to put this tournament on the same level as some of the biggest competitions out there, in terms of prize money? Do you think that the amount of money at stake did not match the significance that this event carries?

IEM Katowice has defined this era of stadium-sized events for esports. The event stands out from the crowd just through the sheer weight of the past and the history of the tournament. The memories created here make the venue take on a life of its own. Upping the ante with more prize-money is just another way that ESL tries to keep elevating esports, as we have been doing since way before introducing IEM Katowice in 2013.

For someone like myself, who has been a part of esports for so long and seen so many cool things along the journey it is beyond exciting to be able to finally attend my first one of these.

Since ESL One Cologne 2016, two companies have done Majors: ELEAGUE and PGL, with the former set to host the first Major of 2018. What is the company’s view on being overlooked by Valve, and do you believe that ESL could host a Major again in the near future?

Personally, I was extremely excited for the plans we had for the January Major. I think we went in with a brave and cool direction with our proposal and the event would have surely delivered on the ESL mission: creating legendary esports moments.

Valve saw it differently, and this is their prerogative. It`s disappointing, but you congratulate ELEAGUE, wish them well for their event and move forward. Of course, I see ESL hosting a Major again, at this point in esport history it is only natural that it happens at some point. We just have to keep working hard on improving our offering.

bsl playing for the iconic NoA in the CPL Winter 2003 final

The upcoming ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals will be marred by roster issues, with Liquid fielding coach zews, while Astralis weighed up the possibility of withdrawing from the event before calling in RUBINO. What are your thoughts on the issue of roster locks? Is ESL looking into the possibility of updating its rulebook regarding this, to make sure the teams play with the possible rosters?

The rules for the particular event in question are created by the teams themselves, through WESA. This is a fact that seems to get lost every time a team wants someone else to play because of a difficult situation.

Look, I have, through my own playing career, walked in the same shoes as these players. I understand that you want your best lineup, and I also know how playing with someone who normally is not part of your roster damages your chances of winning. Teams want to win, that is their sole focus when tournament time comes around, and it`s one hundred percent understandable.

One of the failures and knocks on esports from way back has been a lack of stability, of team-hopping and flip-flopping rosters, and it has been something that both organizations and players have wanted to address. The current system for Pro League is a culmination of that. I don't think any system is perfect, and I do want to see each top team with optimal preparation and at their very best. Sometimes we don't get that, and, in that sense, esports have come closer to being a normal sport where teams deal with injured players, suspended players, sick players etc all the time. You are probably getting now that I am in favour of something that puts a limit on total freedom surrounding roster changes. That does not mean I am not following the debate on Twitter, in columns and interviews. One of the things we normally do during the Pro League finals is to hold a meeting with the players. There is also a WESA members meeting there. After these discussions, I guess we will all see if the discussion has moved in a specific direction.

Youtube is the official broadcast partner of the ESL Pro League until the end of Season 6. What is the company’s official take on this partnership, which began at the start of the year? Could we be looking at a return to Twitch for Season 7, or is ESL still exploring different scenarios?

The arrangement with YouTube has definitely allowed us to get more value for our content along with a constant increase in viewership and even creating more revenue for WESA teams and players. As we are still in negotiations for the upcoming seasons, I can unfortunately not comment on our future plans yet.

What sort of innovations can we expect from ESL next year?

I could tell you, but I would have to kill you.

Follow bsl on Twitter by clicking here.

Norway Jonas 'bsl' Alsaker Vikan
Jonas 'bsl' Alsaker Vikan
No team
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Hello BSL, one major please, Sorry, Bajor machine Broke Understandable, have a nice day
2017-12-04 13:56
1 reply
esl is shit
2017-12-04 20:01
well, yeah. he might be right. but that's a long journey for the esl. the other hosters didn't sleep that much and to close this gap will be a lot of work...
2017-12-04 13:58
no more esl majors ty
2017-12-04 14:00
Luis you might just be 10 years ahead with that image note - definitely not 2013 :p
2017-12-04 14:01
2 replies
I wish CPL was still around in 2013 ;<
2017-12-04 14:02
1 reply
Well, we all wish that an event similar would've been great (a no-holds barred BYOC that allowed for even lower-tier teams to play against the best, and learn), but no one, and I mean NO ONE, wants another CPL if it ends up how it did. But, yes, I agree. I wish that CPL were still a thing in 2013, and hadn't fallen victim to the greed that destroyed it (and subsequently, a lot of the scene that BSL is referencing).
2017-12-04 20:58
What sort of innovations can we expect from ESL next year? I could tell you, but I would have to kill you. 8/8 perfect
2017-12-04 14:02
1 reply
2017-12-04 14:03
I would have to kill you :)
2017-12-04 14:03
i hope they wont
2017-12-04 14:04
Germany xkillua
2017-12-04 14:05
hm ok
2017-12-04 14:07
BSL is a GOD!!!!
2017-12-04 14:08
I hope they will, Katowice and Cologne have always been amazing and are still amazing events that pushed CS:GO into the future, out of cinemas, theaters and your local schools sportscourt to stadiums. This year they improved alot, while PGL could not show off greatnes in Krakow.
2017-12-04 14:11
Nice old-school kind guy and nice interview. Thank you, hltv!
2017-12-04 14:12
Esl is much better than overrated shit eleague
2017-12-04 14:13
2 replies
Turkey almen1
2017-12-04 14:16
I would say ESL is more experienced in CS:GO while ELEAGUE is just a master of Production ... Easiest way give NA the ELeague Major and EU the Cologne Major .... #EZSolution
2017-12-04 15:51
ESL Major pls.
2017-12-04 14:17
haha, on his caps its says: "your mom!".
2017-12-04 14:21
Fiji edgy_man
mibr bsl never forget
2017-12-04 14:25
"It is only natural that ESL hosts another major at some point." Whoops, no ESL major now because Valve thinks they're entitled to hosting a major.
2017-12-04 14:29
3 replies
i think its already confirmed they will host a major next year, and why wouldnt valve anyways? ESL has worked with Valve numerous times
2017-12-05 06:38
2 replies
No the major after eleague is not confirmed. Right now it doesn't look like Valve has the greatest relationship with ESL.
2017-12-05 15:05
1 reply
How so? Never heard of this shaky relationship with valve
2017-12-05 16:33
Malaysia Suno[t]
BSL, THE LEGEND. Just drop ESL director and be coach for Norway please. :(
2017-12-04 14:25
Hope they change to twitch. Youtube is blocked in China
2017-12-04 14:26
7 replies
you can't use vpn?
2017-12-04 14:30
1 reply
VPN sometimes doesn't work.
2017-12-04 14:31
Germany Tunio
Wtf why is it blocked
2017-12-04 15:01
2 replies
Cuz the chinese government doesn't allow youtube.
2017-12-04 15:02
1 reply
Germany Tunio
lmfao rip lets hope ESL doesnt host another major
2017-12-04 15:04
There are tons of streams in Chinese platform regardless of the size of the match. Even the shady tier 10 matches get covered. I can tell you this because I watched iem Oakland on huomao during my time in China. Twitch was super slow and can't even load 360p smoothly but I was able to watch it on huomao on chao qing quality. The downside is that the streams don't present the original stream meaning that all of them are Chinese streamers talking over the original stream while you can hear the English caster casting in the background. Overall still good.
2017-12-04 15:14
Wow rip:/
2017-12-04 15:17
No it is not natural since ESL don't follow VALVE rules on banned cheaters.
2017-12-04 14:33
10 replies
That´s irrelevant though, it´s not like ESL chooses which players which are allowed at a major or not.
2017-12-04 14:58
9 replies
If they organize a major they will. So they have to be back in Valve rules to do so.
2017-12-04 15:00
8 replies
Are you listening? Lets take it once more, slowly this time. ESL´s policy about ex-cheaters/throwers at their regular tourneys are irrelevant to whether they get a major or not because their own ruling is void once it´s a major and they have to follow Valve´s ruleset.
2017-12-04 15:04
7 replies
U take it the wrong way : U don't change your rules coz you have a Major but you have a Major coz you follow the rules. Your solution is basically the same as giving badges to criminal coz they said they will change their behavior if so. World not working this way (even if it might).
2017-12-04 15:07
6 replies
That doesn´t make any sense at all, that´s like saying Valve is forcing biased monopoly on Majors without real ground to do so. And you guys make ESL the bad guy... The best company should win regardless of regular ruleset, and that is ESL.
2017-12-04 15:12
3 replies
I don't understand your part of the biased monopoly on Major. If they don't want to host it, then don't apply to host it. Yes ESL with their idiot rule 'every one is welcome, including cheaters/scammers' is the bad guy here. And since there is several compagnies able to host a major, AND some of them are doing it very well (E-league for exemple) while following the ruleset, I don't see your point. Regarding past major event, ESL was not the best host there was, so I don't understand your comment about them being the best to do so.
2017-12-04 15:18
2 replies
So you´re a bad guy for not permanently banning athletes for offenses? Believing in giving second chances? In IRL sports, do you get permanentley banned from all competition because you were caught on roids? No, you get banned for one to multiple years based on the severity. Please don´t say E-league is a great host, they were able to give the shittiest company the qualifiers. The qualifiers couldn´t even start because they had 1 admin overseeing it and where was he? Out shopping. And their anti-cheat is garbage so the tourney was riddled with cheaters, EVEN CHEATERS PREVIOUSLY BANNED ON THE SAME PLATFORM WITH THE SAME ACCOUNT.
2017-12-04 15:27
1 reply
For what I'm concern I don't give a shit of qualifier, at the end these teams wont make it to the main event for the most part. But that being said, you are right, there is room for improvement. To come back on the ESL breaking rules : It is not what I think, it is what VALVE thinks. I did not make these rules, VALVE did. But if you want my personal opinion on this : in traditional sport, since it is an exemple you bring, their rules are unable to stop cheaters, so if you ask me, doing like they do is not a good way to see things. perma ban is not that extremist neither, since there is many works (a work, like professional sport athlete, coz banned people can still play amateur, just not work anymore) u can't do if you have been caught : policeman, military, (in many country) politics, fire fighter, in France u can't even be postman ffs. But it is not the suject if I agree or not with VALVE rules. Subject is does ESL respect and follow VALVE rules, and answer is : no.
2017-12-04 15:39
Denmark MeToxi
u are wrong and senkesett is right. ESL's new rules on cheaters will be overruled by valve rules which is also stated in the esl rulebook
2017-12-04 16:02
1 reply
Denmark MeToxi
Let me specify 'ESL confirms that the vac rules will be used at EPL, IEM and ESL One tournaments with the only exception being any valve supported tournaments'
2017-12-04 16:10
dreamhack pls
2017-12-04 14:34
esl is done imo
2017-12-04 14:36
ESL thinks there entitled to a major? Lol like maybe cologne every other year would be nice but really “it’s only natural”? It’s valves choice
2017-12-04 14:38
Malaysia Suno[t]
I think BSL is undercover agent
2017-12-04 14:39
Esl is a fucking mafia all the way through.
2017-12-04 14:40
Hello, ESL? VALVE here. Last major
2017-12-04 14:46
No Monopoly!
2017-12-04 14:54
Germany Tunio
Oh god no ESLs Production value is terrible
2017-12-04 15:01
3 replies
Yes PGL veri gud and Eleague big brain giving qualifiers to CEVO...
2017-12-04 15:14
2 replies
PGL Krakow was the best major by far. Was running fucking smooth :-) Btw. what really sucks is, that it’san U,S A Major again. Why they care so much about this s**t CS-Country.
2017-12-04 17:36
1 reply
Canada _Dark__
Isn’t valve American? That might explain why...
2017-12-04 20:31
"The rules for the particular event in question are created by the teams themselves, through WESA" "The rules for the particular event in question are created by the teams themselves, through WESA" "The rules for the particular event in question are created by the teams themselves, through WESA" "The rules for the particular event in question are created by the teams themselves, through WESA" "The rules for the particular event in question are created by the teams themselves, through WESA" But lets keep crying when it affects our team.
2017-12-04 15:03
2017-12-04 15:41
I could tell you, but I would have to kill you. I guess he likes Kng
2017-12-04 16:08
Belgium siger-
so arrogant esl events always look like shit. Always the same stage, the same decor. So redundant. And I don't talk about the TV pauses who are long af, 45 minutes break between two maps, no thanks
2017-12-04 16:25
4 replies
Yeah, Eleague use a different setup every single event, oh wait. You really care about that, are u serious? I wan‘t to see great games. Everything else couldn't care me less tbh.
2017-12-04 17:07
What, exactly, was arrogant about this interview?
2017-12-04 20:59
Jonas is the least arrogant guy
2017-12-05 16:03
1 reply
Belgium siger-
I don't judge the person, I judge the answers. The answers were "Typical pretentious" ; from Turttle who abuse of their position in the market.
2017-12-05 16:08
Can some brazilian old school tell me if this bsl is the guy who already played on mibr?
2017-12-04 19:08
2 replies
yes he played for mibr
2017-12-04 19:57
1 reply
thanks bro
2017-12-05 00:59
Why would Any1 want ESL to host.. get ready for the shitshow delays
2017-12-04 19:52
Japan kitzune
"What sort of innovations can we expect from ESL next year? I could tell you, but I would have to kill you." So its ok to say things like this if youre an ESL Director, but you get witch hunted if youre a player.. csgo community in a nutshell
2017-12-04 23:26
1 reply
If you don't see a difference between those two comments, go see a doctor..
2017-12-05 08:20
Stop running two games at the same time you absolute fuckwits.
2017-12-05 10:34
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