onsdagen den 2:e januari 2013

Absolute Legends - another warning


Summary

Absolute Legends, with Tim "WetDreaM" Buysse as CEO, owes a lot of money to players who left the team. For example they owe the SC2 player DeathAngel about 3000€, and one of their former LoL teams about 10 000$. But the money problem doesn’t stop there. A hotel owner called some players to ask for help since AL didn’t pay the hotel bill. The former Co-C.E.O (Ryad) got tired of all the problems and decided to leave the organization a few days ago. Statements from some former players and staff can be found at the end.


Why am I doing this?

I am writing this to warn players who might consider joining this team or work with WetDreaM in the future. I feel obligated to tell the truth about this team. After the recent statement by BabyK about AL not paying him what they owe, I felt that I wanted to give a statement of my own to support his claims and tell my story. There are many reasons as to why I didn’t do this sooner. I still had some trust in Ryad, I didn’t want to lower the chances of all other players to get paid etc. I wish I did it sooner but I also wanted to avoid unnecessary drama around me. I don’t want this to be about me, just look at this as a warning and a former player for the team trying to do what she thinks is the right thing.


eSahara became a part of Absolute Legends

In December 2011 I joined the team eSahara. A few months later, eSahara became a part of Absolute Legends. The conditions changed a lot after the merge and the team seemed to be more about business and making money.

Once I heard about the merge with AL, I was a bit concerned because of past incidents around the CEO, WetDreaM. He used to be a maphacker in BW and DotA, and had quite a bad reputation. More about this here: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?topic_id=100616&currentpage=All). Despite this, the CEO of eSahara seemed convinced that the merge would be a good idea and I didn’t question him about it.

After the merge, the team spirit faded away. Our salaries were late and both players and staff received a lot of criticism for not doing enough for the team. Getting information about whether or not we could go to LANs was almost impossible, resulting in players not getting spots in tournaments such as DreamHack Summer 2012. It should be added that we asked about this particular event pretty much every day for over a month. 


DeathAngel was lucky to receive a spare event ticket, due to a cancellation. He booked his flight to Sweden a day or two before he left from Korea. I booked my event ticket and trip myself before I even knew if it would be refunded or not. I wanted to go there anyway, but actually receiving the refund from AL took months after plenty of delays and excuses. The other SC2 players on the team missed out on the event. I want to point out that this was a big loss for players like BabyKnight. He was improving at that point, but the team didn't provide enough opportunities for him to play at such LANs. He might have missed out on spots in tournaments and show matches as he missed out on a lot of attention. 

The way we were treated after the merge is something I really don’t agree with. We were told how unprofessional we were, how badly we did, what a waste of money we were, etc.. They didn’t give us the motivation I expect from a team.


A call from Grand Hotel in Jönköping

July 10th, ten days after I left AL, I received a call from Grand Hotel in Jönköping. This was the hotel the Absolute Legends players stayed at during DreamHack Summer (DotA, LoL, DeathAngel and me). The hotel told me that AL didn’t pay for the rooms they had booked, despite various reminders and promises. The total amount was about 30 000 SEK (~$4643) according to the hotel. They asked if there was any way I could help them or if there was any Swedish contact they could talk to. I couldn’t help them.

I talked to the hotel again a few weeks later and they still hadn’t received the money from AL. They told me they would contact the team sponsors. I told Ryad about this. I talked to one of the DotA players, “shatan” - he got the same call from the hotel as well. I hope they received the money by now.

Money problems

I heard about a lot of other similar delays regarding payments from AL. It seems like it’s been going on for a really long time. Tim promised to come to DreamHack to pay, but then he had to cancel. Sure, this can happen, but if it happens over and over you begin to get a bit suspicious.

I talked to other (former) players from AL and they told me about problems similar to what the SC2 team experienced. Talking to one of the old dota teams and two old LoL teams made me feel like AL was nothing but a scam. They seem to owe a lot of money. Those who were paid told me about months and months of delays. It wasn’t just about salaries. A lot of prize money was sent to AL, but never passed on to the players. There was also travel money that was never repaid. I asked Ryad on December 31st 2012 if the the prize money was paid to one of the former LoL teams and he said no.
I spoke to some of the LoL members and was told that AL owes this particular LoL team about 10 000$.

We never had as big problems in eSahara before the merge. AL almost never managed to hold on to teams and players for a long period of time. The SC2 roster of AL disappeared fast with Verdi, Check, Satiini, Maka and HongUn leaving relatively shortly after the merge and BabyK, naama and me a few months later.


Bad communication

July 5th 2012, BabyK wrote the following on twitter: 

I've been without contract for almost a month now, and AL still hasn't made an announcement stating I'm free agent.“

AL didn’t renew any contracts in time, neither did they announce that we were free agents. The communication was really bad and it was often difficult to reach the people in charge. A few days after BabyK’s tweet, AL announced that I left the team - but that Naama, BabyKnight and DeathAngel resigned with AL.

That wasn’t entirely true. No contracts were signed. A few days later, Babyk joined FXO and Naama joined Fnatic. DeathAngel stayed in AL a while since he didn’t find another team right away. During this time he did not receive his salary and reimbursement for events. It eventually added up to 3000€ for him. Eventually, DeathAngel left the team. He was promised money, but after leaving, he did not hear from AL despite efforts to contact them.

Comments about the recent statements from BabyK and AL

(http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/15mfhl/babyk_screwed_by_absolute_legends/, http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/15oez7/absolutelegends_response_to_jonbabyknightandersen/)
I can only agree with what BabyK already said. Regarding the defense from Tim saying that BabyK never provided him an invoice, I was asked to make an invoice as well. The funny thing about the invoices is that the DotA team never had to provide them. They were paid through paypal, with months of delays. Anyway, I passed on the invoice as requested, but Tim still refused to pay me. A while after I left AL, Tim stopped replying to me. I could I only speak to Ryad. I made it clear to him that I wouldn’t let it go if they didn’t pay.

About two months after I left AL I finally received my money, but not from Tim. The only reason that I got my money was because I asked Ryad about it almost every day for months and in the end he paid me even if it wasn’t his responibility.

BabyK pointed out that we were also promised gaming gear. Ryad told me it would be ours to keep. Eventually more than six months passed in the team without us receiving it. Eventually we left and while one could argue that gear should not be given to players that leave the team, the delay was so severe and Ryad had still promised the gear to us way back. Tim agreed to give me gaming gear as well, despite him not liking the idea. I never received the gear.

The contracts

As a response to BabyK’s tweet, AL stated that he never signed a contract with AL. As for me, I never signed a contract with eSahara or AL. I refused to, because the contract I was provided was ridiculous. The other SC2 players signed with eSahara and no new contracts were provided at the time of or after the merge. However, we were told that the old agreements were still in effect in AL - but that AL would be responsible for the payments from that moment on.

Ryad left AL

A few days ago, Ryad announced that he left AL. I asked him what happened and I got this as a reply.

Hey Madeleine can't keep working with Tim he doesn't reply to me for so long now ... i mailed like 10 times, also there is many problems like what happend with you with other teams etc;; tired of this


With other teams he refers to other teams within AL.

Ryad invested a lot of money into eSahara. Him leaving the organization he spent so much time, effort and money into speaks for itself. He was the only reason I thought there might be hope for AL, but that hope is long gone now. I want to point out again that Ryad was the good guy in this and that if he continues in eSports it is worth giving him another chance.

Proof

I understand if people want evidence and not only my words to support my accusations, but I don’t have more proof that I can/am allowed to provide. The statement from BabyK made me want to tell my story. I also asked some former AL players and staff if they could add anything and I hope that will help. Thanks to everyone who helped me with this. Their statements follow.

Statement from "Xinec", LoL player for AL at the beginning of 2012 

The treatment Absolute Legends gave me is under all criticism, there is only one thing I can say they did well, and that was sending the contract out fast. It’s just sad that they weren’t able to overheld it themselves.
We were supposed to discuss the terms of our employment once a month, but since the CEO of Absolute Legends either were ignoring me or too busy to take his time to take care of his employees that never happened.
I played under the organization for about 3 months, and I paid 4 flight tickets for myself and 3 of my teammates under the agreement they would pay me back within 14 days.
Yet I have not received 0 euro from the AL organization, who have taken all the price money, not paid me back from flight ticket nor paid my monthly salary.
-    I have email proof that the CEO of AL says he has transferred the money, yet I have not received any.
The only reason I haven’t taken them to court is that I don’t have the economy or experience to do so comfortably.



Statement from “GoDZ”, manager for the dota team playing for AL march-september 2012

Well, our time with Absolute Legends (AL) wasn't the best. It wasn't the worst either, e-sports is kind of like that. There are people who are out to exploit you, people who just straight up scam you, and people who are fantastic and will do anything to help and support you. AL had a bit of all of that during our stay. But as numerous stuff has come up, I feel it worthwhile as a precautionary tale of this organization to not tell our whole story but just incidents that speak of the character of this organization, specifically their "CEO" Tim Buysse, known as "wetdream" in gaming.

1. At one point we were behind 3-4 months of salary (it wasn't even a big salary so not sure why it was so late). We had constantly chased up on it and gotten various reasons for its delay. We figured it's just normal/e-sports. Finally, after telling us on 2-3 occasions the transaction had be sent and just had to wait for it to process, we got fed up. Ultimately, He admitted that he lied and was not upfront about the financial situation. Lies about the payments happened on numerous occasions.

2. After parting ways with AL we finally got paid the salary we were owed (took ages and even threats from my end, something I'm not proud of, but I felt was necessary for the sake of the players, who are my good friends). We were owed other LAN expenses we had paid from our own pocket in Seattle at TI-2, but we were fed up with him lying, and just took it and left quietly not saying anything. 1-2 weeks later the paypal transaction of our complete 4 month owed salary was protested on Paypal by none other than Tim Buysse again due to a comment someone had made against AL not coming from any of the players or myself - and was transferred back to him or something. After a heated discussion between him and myself it was returned to us.

3. There were other incidents, that led us to doubt AL's credibility and various other things as to their values, such as Tim asking us to not receive prize money for winning an AL tournament (while we were still with AL), and to keep the money for future AL tournament. Why he would not want to give his team something to reward them getting first in a tough competition that they earned and deserved I don't know.

Anyways, These incidents listed are as factual as can be. All can be verified by multiple parties which is why I choose to include them and not other incidents involving Absolute Legends and Tim Buysse. People can come to their own conclusions, but I do not trust anything he says or will ever say, and would strongly advise people to avoid working with him at any cost. If anyone has any questions or wants to reach me regarding the matter they can do so at dparker49 [at] gmail.com

Statement from “DeathAngel” (SC2)

I didn't get my salary for july, august, september, octomber and november. I didn't get my refund for some extra spendings at DH summer, I didn't get my refund for IEM koln or DH Valencia. I was always assured it's just some delay in payment and for example in august I got my june salary. So I was still thinking it might all be ok at some point in time. After november it was past 3k euro so I just left the team since it was too much money that I didn't receive. They just ignored me after I left. They didn’t ever reply to my messages on skype or somewhere else.

Statement from “Satiini” (SC2)

I would like to express my support for Babyknight on the issue of Absolute legends, im sorry to hear he did not recieve his money from Absolute legends, but I am not surprised about this since I was also in AL and I had similar problems with mr Tim Buysse, and I know many of the players had the same issues. Nobody should believe a single word he says, he kept ignoring me in skype aswell and refused to respond.


Statement from “Matt”, former LoL caster for AL

After working for aL from the months of June-December I can agree with many others that their payment ethics and level of respect for players in this way is of an incredibly low quality. I have no bad blood with any members of the organisation, and I regret to say that until they sit back, pay their debts and turn over a new leaf of proper business practice and respect for others, that they should not be continuing their business in it's current form. Stop making promises you can not keep.

Statement from “naama” (SC2)

I was happy playing for esahara. When they merged with AL, everything went downhill. Bad communication with the AL managers, delayed salaries and overall very bad relationship between players and the owners.


Statement from the former SC2 manager “illu”

As the former General Manager for eSahara and Team Manager for AL.SC2 I'd like to show my support to my former players who are in trouble with AL's CEO. When we were in eSahara, we had not that much trouble, Ryad was a very good CEO, he did very good job and he gave a lot of his time to this team and to keep it alive. Unfortunately he had to sell eSahara to Absolute Legends to keep it alive, which sounded like a great news at the beginning. But we've noticed really quickly that the team would have failed due to lack of skill from the new head management. In fact that was true, Tim wanted to manage a SC2 Squad like a LoL Squad which totally
failed. I am sad to hear that my former players are still waiting for their money, a full Razer bundle has also been promised to everyone of us, we are still waiting for it. I hope my players are going to get their money back, eSports is full of shady organisations and that's really sad. It was hard to do the work, I had not that much informations about a lot of things but I had all the criticism when things failed.. which was pretty unmotivating. Baiscally I wasn't able to talk, I just had to execute what Tim told me to do (when he told me to do something). That was not my management style, I have nothing against following a Head Management Plan but when the guy absolutely doesn't know what he is talking about, that turns my job impossible to do properly.


Conclusion

With this I would like to warn all players ever considering joining AL or working for Tim, and in general – be careful. There are so many teams out there that are doing the same. The only thing I want with this is to lower the chances of players getting treated like this again.


Edit: The problems continued even after my warning. See for example http://www.esportsheaven.com/articles/view/id/5092#.UuVvahA1hD_.

11 kommentarer:

  1. Den här kommentaren har tagits bort av skribenten.

    SvaraRadera
  2. The same happened to the danish Starcraft 2 player from Absolute Legends; BabyKnight

    SvaraRadera
  3. I must really show this to their newly picked up team in HoN, they are my favorite team and just got sponsored by AL

    SvaraRadera
  4. Sounds reasonable and everything... Only thing I don't get is blogger. Well written though, enough that even a guy who doesn't follow SC2 can get it. What I don't understand is why the community doesn't just bar/not allow the people who are late on payments from participating? In any business, you don't work with the guy that misses payments. If he's late, you go to someone else. Is there just such a lack of people sponsors like? (I'm under the impression that the sponsors are giving the money to this guy instead of working with players directly). Someone correct me/ignore me if I'm wrong.

    (also, second page or Reddit or something like that. Congrats)

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. So... I stand corrected.

      Now, someone go revolutionize the gaming industry. again. *pokes valve, since I play DotA*

      Radera
  5. 3. AbsoluteLegends agrees to support the Player in the following way
    a. Travel costs to events agreed upon by AbsoluteLegends. This includes flight costs and Hotel room only costs. The players are responsible for their own food and miscellaneous costs unless otherwise agreed in advance.
    b. AbsoluteLegends requires that the “Player” have a multi-travel medical and baggage insurance policy that covers USA and the rest of the world, which allows for many trips to any location, but for no longer than 90 days each trip. If the “Player” does not already have such a policy, AbsoluteLegends will reimburse the purchase on receipt of payment invoice. AbsoluteLegends will not be liable for accident, illness, loss of luggage, missed flights etc.
    c. Registration costs for relevant events.
    d. Supply the “Player” with hardware received by our sponsors. A register of hardware supplied to “Players” will be maintained. Each time a “Player” either receives or returns any hardware.
    e. The salary of the player wich consists out of 300€ per month, able to increase depending on the results of the team onine and offline to a maximum of 500€ per month per player.
    f. AbsoluteLegends will do its best to support the player in any manner that may be necessary. Requests from the player will be looked at for there merit and necessity.

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. I assume this is a contract AL is using atm?

      Radera
  6. Well I sincerely enjoyed studying it. This subject offered by you is very effective for good planning, hard work and a great team always make a spotless work...I read your article on event staffingand find that you make nice point on the service..

    SvaraRadera
  7. Personally, i have never had this problem myself (not getting payed), but i did have to fight late payments sometimes.
    The way this should normally be adressed is rather simple:
    You look at wich country the company (AL) is registered, then tell them if they dont pay up by next day, you will contact every single public organization informing them of the company performing Fraud.

    Trust me, there is nothing that scares more than getting the Tax Office on your ass.

    Thou bare in mind that it is possible no company that has bad habits might ever want to work with you again (for me thats a good thing, but hey...).

    SvaraRadera
  8. Great post, thanks for the insight
    very good , read also my article
    The Art or War

    SvaraRadera