From partnering for a Rocket League championship to creating a new mobile gaming league with Vainglory, Twitch has been making big moves in eSports. Now it’s taking things even further with an all-new league.

The company announced today that it has partnered with Faceit, one of the world’s biggest gaming platforms, to launch a new initiative known as the eSports Championship Series, or ECS. The first tournament for this league features the popular multiplayer shooter Counter-Strike, but what makes this event unique is that teams will be allowed to become co-owners—a first in eSports history.

The first competition kicks off today, with a tournament that will offer a whopping $3.5 million payout in prizes.

“Players and teams are the heart of the eSports community and deserve the opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work and dedication to grow eSports into a mainstream phenomenon,” said Michael Attisani, co-founder of Faceit. “We make the community our first priority and as such, we’re excited to support the first eSports league that positions teams as co-owners.”

Both partners will assure fairness across both player treatment and payments, in the hopes that the ECS will continue with more popular tournaments across a variety of games. In addition, those that become co-owners will help decide and enforce certain parts of the league, including framework, integrity and other factors to assure players are treated properly.

“A major part of Twitch’s success is built around our relationship with the eSports community, from the players and organizations who have made it a leading form of entertainment, to our own staff with deep roots in the scene,” said Stuart Saw, director of eSports strategy for Twitch. “We’ve listened to what the teams and players are looking for, which is to have a bigger voice in the movement, and it inspired us to partner with Faceit to launch the ECS. This will mark a significant and welcome change to the sport, and will lead to a wider impact across the industry.”

Twitch is making a smart move with its investment in eSports. A recent Newzoo report found that eSports drives nearly 22 percent of Twitch’s general viewership. Furthermore, the report indicates that 475.5 million hours of content were watched across all eSports franchises, averaging over 79 million hours a month. It also pointed out that viewing hours per franchise varies widely across eSports-related and regular streams. Games like Hearthstone have high non-eSports viewerships, with only 12.7 percent tuning in for eSport competitions. Comparatively, 51.9 percent of Dota 2 fans watch its eSports content.


Those interested in tuning in to the debut of the ECS can do so on Faceit’s official Twitch channel.