This morning, a couple of writers that go by the handles @awake_gg and @csgodevil published the results of an investigation into a wider array of dealings that players from other parts of esports have had with Steven Maida, CEO of Luminosity Gaming. The piece contains several new tidbits of information including a suggestion that Maida is in default on $200k of “prior collective tournament winnings” or prize money.
Not paying out prize money in a respectable amount of time is probably the biggest chump move that any esports entity could make, regardless if the entity in question is a tournament organizer or a team owner. But there’s more!
The article also contains a copy of a freelancer’s contract complete with broadly-worded and suspect language. To start with, any contractor can be bought out for a simple $25k no-questions-asked fee, which seems like a great signal (to me, in my opinion, in my estimation, etc.) that LG bills itself more as a stepping stone organization and borderline get-rich-quick scheme instead of an esports organization meant to build and foster long-lasting business relationships.
Lastly, the post made to clutchorkick.gg included some redacted Skype conversation logs where contracted players under the Luminosity brand would have conversations with Maida about various aspects of their deal. One player would ask about getting some equipment, and would be treated by Maida as if getting free computer components from sponsors was a normal occurrence in the life of a contractor for LG. In addition to the dismissive way that Maida responds to the anonymous player’s inquiries about getting gear from sponsors, Maida throws his current sponsors under the bus.
Even if you assume that Maida is taken out of context by these particular Skype screenshots, I’m not sure that you can give him credit for being down to Earth by being so flippant about the end of a sponsorship deal.
All sorts of red flags here.
Thorin published two videos breaking down his perspective on the recent legal dispute between Luminosity Gaming and SK Gaming and hoooo boy, you need to watch both of these videos and digest them. If you’re not already subscribed to him on YouTube, you should definitely hit that button while you’re there. Thorin’s video essay game is never not incredibly on point. (Reference to ‘incredible reference game’ incredibly on point.)
This first video sets up the entire situation using information from the ESPN article as well as first-hand accounts from the parties related to ESL and SK Gaming. While there is a lot of comments from FalleN and LG’s side of the disagreement, I think Jacob Wolf’s write-up of the situation could’ve used direct input from the figures on the SK/ESL/WESA side of things (and yes, WESA are involved in this, at some level approaching a favoristic, self-appointed arbiter). It’s not really Wolf’s fault–he got a no-comment from SK Gaming. What else could he do?
This is remedied by the response video as the enlightenment of Thorin’s SK connections allow for more dots to be connected, so to speak. However, make sure to take everything with a grain of salt, because you’re going to get all the salt you’d ever wish for in part two…
…where Thorin goes mental in more than simply one or two instances for completely legitimate reasons. His case, primarily founded on the lack of evidence that proper legal advice was being sought and the questionable representation of the team in these matters, is a pretty solid one. The last fifteen minutes of the overview contain the most compelling rebuttals towards FalleN’s record-straightening attempt posted to The Daily Dot.
The circumstances around this deal and hearing FalleN make the most basic mistakes possible are jaw-droppingly extraordinary. From not notifying LG ownership the moment they were approached by SK to demanding that Valve pay out the players’ share of the Major winnings directly to them instead of through their team’s financial system, it’s clear that Fallen was getting a little greedy with their newfound respect in the scene. Not to mention the other finer points about this deal, like the lawyer responsible for spearheading the SK Gaming acquisition is now the WESA interim commissioner or the unconfirmed reports that certain, former ESL power-brokers would ask a court to issue injunctions against LG’s current lineup if they were to not honor their new contracts with SK Gaming.
There’s too much dirt covering up what exactly is going on with this story and the likelihood that everything will be explained away as a misunderstanding between two esports organizations seems pretty small. Other leagues don’t see any problem with the situation, but the opposition connected to ESL/WESA seem to be considering any and all legal remedies available to them.
Perhaps we’ll see a bit of courtroom intrigue before all is settled in this matter.