This week The Daily Dot posted an article stating that EU Challenger Series organisation Team Huma hadn’t paid its players on time, nor provided them with expenses for essential amenities like accommodation.
While payment and accommodation issues have plagued some UK orgs in the past, player contracts are slowly becoming the norm which should gradually help improve the scene.
However, Team Huma’s story is utterly appalling if all claims against it are true.
The team was formed in November 2015 by ex Copenhagen Wolves head coach Karl “Dentist” Krey, who was asked by British investor Behdad Jaafarian to bring together a League of Legends team for the EU Challenger Series. He brought in players such as Santorin and HolyPhoenix (and was close to bringing in Renegades Banditos’ UK top-laner and former Infused player Alphari as a sub).
This is an org who apparently said it would acquire $300,000 in sponsorship revenue in its first year, only for its general manager Nicole Manning to leave in mid-January, while players were reportedly paid late on several occasions, including almost three weeks late in December.
Team Huma’s contracts have been described as ‘illegal’ by former head coach Kublai “Kubz” Barlas, who apparently did not receive his until this month, and there were also accommodation, flights and expenses issues. Not to mention, Dentist arranged a team bootcamp in Berlin, but was apparently told that management couldn’t afford the rent nor did it have the proper tax ID to validate the paperwork.
“eSports has evolved, we have millions of dollars flying around and getting put into the players, infrastructure and development – we’re at a point where we have to take staff members seriously!”
Karl “Dentist” Krey, former Team Huma manager
Jaafarian has since apparently turned down several offers for the team, including one in the region of $100,000.
The team has qualified for the EU Challenger Series Spring Playoffs and are in contention to qualify for the EU LCS, but may disband, change or sell its roster. Riot is currently investigating the team and the issues raised.
Additional posts from former Huma coaches and analysts have made for some difficult reading, with some extraordinary claims made by head coach Kubz, including unproven allegations of racism, tax dodging and the idea that Nicole Manning approached The Daily Dot to write an article about a bidding war in order to push up the price of Huma. Kubz has described the actions of the org as ‘a full-on clown fiesta’.
Analyst Kamikazplatypus added in a post that staff had been ‘strung along with fake promises and absolute bullsh*t’, as well as being lied to by management.
Comment: What should we learn from the Team Huma fiasco?
Put simply, not being paid – or being paid late – is completely unacceptable.
It’s not just an eSports problem – it’s a wider employment problem and one that can have devastating consequences.
I knew someone who was regularly being paid late by her employer and was extremely close to being evicted by her landlord, simply because she didn’t have the money to pay her rent on time. While this wasn’t her fault, her landlord didn’t care – she had broken the terms of her tenancy agreement as far as he was concerned; that’s not to mention the struggle she faced trying to pay for food and other living essentials.
Huma’s former analyst Kamikazplatypus makes this vital point in his post: working professionally and not being paid is intolerable.
“For me personally, earning a fair salary was crucial to following this passion of mine because simply put I cannot survive on my own without making some kind of income,” he said. “I live on my own and have rent and utilities and food to pay for in order to simply exist. With the way [Huma’s founder] Behdad would stall all negotiations and try to cut corners it seemed like some game he was playing, while I was treating this as my full-time job and dedicating the hours anyone would expect for that kind of position.
“Numerous other members of staff were all completely unpaid for the entire duration of this project strung along with fake promises and absolute bullsh*t.”
Former Huma manager Karl “Dentist” Krey hit the nail on the head in his separate Twitlonger post.
“Staff members, while not getting the attention of the players, are part of this industry as well and a lot of the guys in charge simply don’t understand that we are not some teenagers fooling around in our free time besides school, but actually make a living out of this,” he stated.
“Whether it be full time analysts, coaches or managers, we spend hours of hours of hours and put our heart and soul into making teams work and perform. For me, Huma was more than a 40-hour a week job and I know about the hours my coaching staff put into this because I was there seeing the impact they made.
“Yes, you have to pay your dues in eSports and yes, volunteer work is common and many if not all of us got into the scene by working our asses off for free and struggling to pay the bills, but if you are proven and working hard on a full-time basis for any organisation for a couple of months, you need to get properly compensated.
“eSports has evolved, we have millions of dollars flying around and getting put into the players, infrastructure and development, we’re at a point where we have to take staff members seriously!”
“Being paid late is completely unacceptable. It’s not just an eSports problem – it’s a wider employment problem and one that can have devastating consequences.”
Dentist goes on to say that $500 to $1,000 per month would have been enough to keep their lives running, but that amount is ‘a joke’ compared to what is given out and invested.
“I am at this point very sorry, especially for my analyst, for even bringing them in, since he will struggle to pay his rent this month, a problem I myself am familiar with,” Dentist added.
He called on Riot to better regulate and sanction team owners, as well as offer greater support other team staff such as analysts and coaches in the future.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to the industry leaders and in this case especially Riot – if there are people coaching, managing, coordinating things for an organization, it should be a requirement for the person in charge to have those members contracted,” he commented.
“Yes, the protection of the players is most important and Riot is doing a great job at doing so, but there are people behind the scenes, behind the players – important people to keep this industry running and we need protection as well.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.