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Payment problems can leave lasting scars on an esports organisation’s reputation. Players and fans alike want to know that their favourite teams are responsible and trustworthy. However, having the right tools can prevent mishaps and misunderstandings with gamers.
Here are five examples of gamer payments gone wrong:
Festive eSports held a tournament called FEST Lyon in France in July of 2015. The event featured some of the world’s top organisations including Team Liquid, Dignitas, Tempo Storm, and mYinsanity.
Event organisers failed to pay out any of the €30,000 (£27,155) in prize money that they owed. Eight months later, the teams still had not received any funds.
What went wrong: For months, FEST Lyon organiser, Festive eSports, promised to provide payment updates. The company finally admitted to financial troubles. Its sponsor, OVC Entertainment, had filed for bankruptcy. Festive eSports never recovered.
Takeaway: Transparency is key. To be fair, we don’t know the full story behind this doomed event. We do know, based on the evidence available, that the company failed to uphold its end of the payment agreement and failed to communicate.
Turkish esports organisation Beşiktaş Esports has not paid gamers on time or at all, according to former team members. In August 2019, pro players including Natalie ‘Stratospanda” Kristiansen and Olimpia ‘Komedyja’ Cichosz of Beşiktaş’ League of Legends team, alleged that the company had a history of non-payment.
Kristiansen published her allegations online. She also cited rumours of a cover-up within the organisation.
What went wrong: Beşiktaş Esports is the gaming division of Turkish football club Beşiktaş J.K. It has invested millions in assets and players, as well as a new stadium, over the past few years. The club reported debt of over 1,948,589,126 TRY (£200.7 million) in 2018. Esports players aren’t the only ones complaining about non-payment. Football player Loris Karius terminated his contract with the organisation in 2019, complaining of unpaid wages.
Takeaway: Players should be guaranteed payments. Professional athletes have enough to concentrate on as they strive to be the best. Smart contracts and automatic payments, like those found on our Edge platform, offer peace of mind to both teams and players.
Another Turkish football club has been under fire for esports payment problems.
Lee “GBM” Chang-Seok, a player for League of Legends team Galatasaray Esports, complained in December that he had not been paid in months. He further alleged that Galatasaray ignored his requests.
A Galatasaray board member denied the claim but admitted that Chang-Seok had only been paid half of his owed salary and that they were “doing their best.” League of Legends publisher Riot Games conducted its own investigation and found that Galatasaray failed to pay its players or staff and owed up to eight months of salaries. The organisation was banned from participating in the Winter Split and further participation will be up for review.
What went wrong: Contracts are more than pieces of paper. They are a symbol of mutual trust. It will be difficult to recruit top players and staff if they know that payment agreements will not be honoured.
Takeaway: Paying gamers on time will save you money. Franchise league spots cost millions of dollars, and brands pay handsomely to sponsor teams involved. Galatasaray risks the loss of sponsorship dollars in addition to any prize money its players could have won during the Winter Split.
Late 2019. One by one, Lowkey Esports disbanded its teams in every region except for SEA. The organisation did not give players an explanation and as of January 2020, several claimed that they had not been paid.
Kenneth “Flysolo” Coloma, coach of Lowkey’s Filipino Dota 2 roster, publicly complained about payment problems. He said that his team disbanded due to low morale.
What went wrong: There seems to be a pattern of esports organisations expanding quickly before a massive collapse. Lowkey kept players in the dark until they became frustrated and out of work.
Takeaway: Players need recourse. Esports teams continue to play based on the hope that they will get paid eventually. However, players can dispute anything quickly with the Edge platform.
Popular Fortnite player Turner “Tfue” Tenney is facing off with his former team, FaZe Clan, in a heated legal battle. Tenney claims that FaZe Clan failed to pay his share of brand deal revenue and undercut his earnings. FaZe has counter-sued and claims that Tenney was to share 80% of his earnings from online streaming.
What went wrong: Tenney’s situation is reminiscent of a band member that decided to go solo. FaZe claims that they made his career, while Tenney calls his contract “exploitative.” This is a classic case of different expectations that resulted in hurt feelings and expensive legal fees.
Takeaway: Know your contract. Tenney is one of the most-watched gamers online. If his contract exploited and underpaid him, the same could happen to any gamer. Understanding the contract upfront, as well as any clauses about non-payment, are as important as knowing your salary.