OPEN LETTER TRANSFER DISPUTE (NRG eSports)
Leading eSports data and platform provider UltraPlay, together with its professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive team Outlaws would like to address all stakeholders of the improvement and development of the eSports ecosystem by opening up the discussion on how to preserve and establish more effective principles and working methods on which organizations and individuals can profit and be protected.
Recently, one of our players, Tsvetelin 'CeRq' Mangalski signed a contract with NRG eSports (owned by Sacramento Kings owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov, with investors such as Shaquille O'Neal and Ryan Howard) and left our team on a very short notice without any official player transfer between the teams, breaking our existing contract with him and breaking our non-compete clause in the contract as well (Art. 8).
We reached out NRG eSports, explaining them the situation, to potentially reach a transfer deal, as any serious organization would have done. However, we were left without any meaningful response, which we believe represents extreme lack of sports business ethics.
Our eSports team is a subsidiary company of ours and so far, we have invested hundreds of thousands to develop and market it. We have supported our players from the very beginning and provide them with all the necessary equipment they need in order to develop as professional eSports players. We help them gain valuable experience at international events and sponsored their participation on several tournaments such as: Assembly, Finland, ESL Southeast Championship, Serbia, GeForce Cup, Poland and many events in Bulgaria, including ESL SEC Season V when they took the trophy for a second time in a row.
Our decision to create a professional eSports team and Academy was led by our bright vision to contribute, enrich and develop the eSports scene in Bulgaria and the Eastern European region – to find talents and make them become the next eSports stars on a global scale. With the recent events happening to our organization, we started asking ourselves if we want to continue our investments in a team and in the eSports scene in the region.
If we want eSports to be recognized as professional sport, we have to integrate some good practices from traditional sports where regulation and transfer rights are already well-established and protecting both the player and the organization. Take for example football where part of the transfer money goes to the player’s first team as a reverence and recognition of its achievement from where it all started.
The recent occurrences not only bring financial losses to our company, but they also have overall negative impact on the development of the eSports ecosystem globally.
Theft of players should not be allowed. When there is no investment security and basic organizational integrity grounds, there will be lack of investments.
Now we would like to raise few questions on how the eSports sector can prevent such practices and counteract with the unfair game and methods of “stealing” players from teams. With the increasing number of professional players, teams, organizations and many people related to the industry we have to address all industry’s professionals who are willing to support the cause for fairness and professionalism in eSports.
We ask the following questions:
Question to ESL: Will you allow a player, who is on an active contract with team A (Outlaws) to play in the ESL Pro League NA for team B (NRG eSports)? Will you take certain measures to prevent this occurrence and set it as industry standard?
Question to WESA and ESIC: What kind of actions can be taken, and what is the general stance of your organizations when it comes to such wildly poor ethics and theft of players?
Question to NRG eSports: Coming from the traditional sports space with owning Sacramento Kings and understanding the basic principles of sports integrity and transfers procedures, what do you think is the most rightful way to proceed in this situation?