MIBR, Yeah to compete in ESL One: Road to Rio despite conflict of interest as Valve looks to promote multi-team ownership discussion
MIBR and Yeah have both been given the green light to compete in ESL One: Road to Rio despite the strong ties between the two squads as Valve aims to reignite the discussion about the sensitive topic of multiple team ownership, HLTV.org and Globo Esporte reveal.
Once a household name in the Brazilian Counter-Strike scene in the early 2000s, Yeah was relaunched in January 2018 by numerous prominent figures, including current MIBR player Epitacio "TACO" de Melo and team coach Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia. Current Evil Geniuses coach Wilton "zews" Prado and FaZe's Marcelo "coldzera" David are, too, among the team's investors, and Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo was also involved in the project in the past. This umbilical relationship has been commented on by multiple parties involved and is even mentioned in the "about" section on Yeah's website.
Yeah was rebuilt with the goal of helping to nurture some of the top prospects coming through in Brazil, a country with a deep talent pool, just like Games Academy had done in the past. Yeah built a new team in January by bringing together former members of Sharks, paiN and Imperial, with the players then moving to Los Angeles, where MIBR's gaming house is also located.
Prior to the start of ESL One: Road to Rio, every team had to fill out a form declaring whether or not they had a financial relationship with a competitor and listing every existing conflict of interest. Failure to do so could result in immediate disqualification and/or forfeiture of proceeds.
In the documents submitted by MIBR and Yeah, which HLTV.org obtained, both parties confirmed that there are financial ties between the teams. TACO, dead, zews and coldzera are all listed as co-owners of Yeah even though they allegedly don’t take any decisions on the company's behalf. In exchange for a set annual fee, MIBR's parent company, the Immortals Gaming Club, has the option to "buy out at most two players from YeaH Gaming’s roster in a calendar year at an agreed upon price."
Contacted by HLTV.org, a Valve representative explained that the sole requirement for ESL One: Road to Rio was that "participating teams disclose existing conflicts of interest, and that those disclosures be made public so that the community can have an opportunity to discuss them." This is the reason why both MIBR and Yeah will be allowed to participate in the tournament despite the game developer previously stating that "teams and players should not have any financial interest in the success of any team that they are competing against."
This latest development could represent a major shift in the competitive landscape and witness the return of academy teams, which were shut down by organisations after tournaments took a firm stance against multiple team ownership. This was also the reason why RFRSH Entertainment decided to scale down and focus solely on Astralis after initially supporting four different squads. The Danish team, who hold the record for the most Majors won (four), ended up splitting in July 2019 from the esports media agency, which is operating the BLAST Premier circuit.
Below you can find the declaration of interest from 19 teams competing in ESL One: Road to Rio, shared by Valve: