Esports is a fluid environment, with players coming and going all the time. When a player loses their contract with a team and is in the process of looking for another, they take on the title of “free agent.” What is a free agent, and what kinds of risks does it bring? Let’s take a look.
What is free agency?
In esports and professional sports, a free agent is a player who can sign a contract to play for another team. A free agent can either be a completely free agent, where they are no longer tied to a team whatsoever or still under contract to a team but looking to transfer.
Depending on the player’s game, their options regarding signing for a team are often limited by that game’s rules. Each game’s developer sets their own rules regarding the period when a team can sign a player.
Risks of free agency when negotiating a better contract
Before signing a contract, a player must do their due diligence on both the team and the contract before signing it.
Players must look at things like the money offered, intellectual property rights, transfers and termination clauses, and other key terms. It’s important to compare what is being offered by the new team to what the old team offers and see if it provides a better deal.
Teams must do their research on the player and see where they stand with their previous team. Does the player have any outstanding dues? Have they done anything that put the previous team at some kind of legal risk? Signing a risky player could bring those same problems to your organization, which puts further strain on your name and reputation.
One of the risks of negotiating a better contract as a free agent is missing out.
As a full free agent with no ties to any team, there is no saying if a team will reach out to sign you. If a player declines signing with a specific team, who knows when the next offer will come around? Free agents might face the choice of picking a bad contract in fear of not getting another offer or risking it and waiting for a more beneficial offer to come.
Risks of free agency while finding a new team
Each game has specific dates when new players can sign to a team. If a player does not find a team to sign with during those specific dates, they might be left in esports limbo with no team to play for and, thus, no income.
When the free-agent season is in full swing, competition can be fierce. Players might find themselves competing with others even more than during the season. High-tier players who made big waves during the season will be “hot” ones that teams want to sign, which can spell disaster for lower-tier prodigies who simply haven’t had their chance to make it big.
There is also the chance that the player’s new team could dissolve their contracts even when the free agency season dies down. This sudden thrust into free agency can shock many players and send them scrambling to find another team to sign them after the so-called “signing season” is already over. This is where negotiating a fair contract and reading it over before signing it comes into play.
How to avoid complications during free agency?
To sum everything up, properly navigating through free agency is a two-way street: both players and teams must do their due diligence.
Players must read over the contracts offered to them by the team and ensure that the terms are fair to both sides. Teams must offer fair contracts so that the player feels welcome and your organization does not have its reputation damaged as a result of an unfair contract.
Signing a new player is a big commitment for everyone involved and must be treated as such. Providing a player with a team to play for means the team provides that player with a means of livelihood. Treat them fairly, and they will do so in return.