The CS:GO esports community has been recently abuzz with allegations. It seems major tournament organizers, namely StarLadder and ESL, have been delaying payments to their casting talent. Renown caster Richard Lewis appears to have had enough because he has started naming names.
Since early autumn 2019, the caster has been expressing his frustration at the current state of freelancing on the esports scene. He claimed that ESL had repeatedly delayed payments to him while still requiring a high level of professionalism:
While one allegation does not a scandal make, it triggered an avalanche. Multiple known names came out, confirming that they had gone through similar ordeals. In an emotional YouTube video, Vince “OnFireVince” Hill described how difficult it is for a caster to receive their delayed payment as the organizers hold all the cards in this exchange:
And he was not alone. Multiple top-tier casters such as James Banks and Janko “YNk” Paunović have joined in, corroborating the same story. However, no one was rushing to point any fingers. Clearly, they were fearing for their livelihoods – after all, badmouthing a tournament organizer is a sure-fire way to get blacklisted from the next major event.
However, not all are deterred by fear of retaliation. Richard Lewis appears to be breaking the seal of silence once again. In a passionate outburst during the By The Numbers podcast, Lewis dropped another organizer name, StarLadder.
Richard Lewis doesn’t seem happy at all. And for a good reason: both ESL and StarLadder are no small fry. They host some of the biggest events in CS:GO – the ESL Pro League has been running for 10 seasons now and has seen some of the biggest names in CS:GO compete for a slice of its $600,000 prize pool. And the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019 featured $1 million up for grabs and is an official Valve-sanctioned event. While this may be StarLadder’s first time hosting a CS:GO tournament, they have no excuse-making such grave mistakes, especially considering they have experience with many Dota 2 Pro Circuit events over the past years.
So, what is there to do? Many are stressing on the importance of having clear contractual terms and deadlines in place, especially as a freelancer. However, would titans such as ESL and StarLadder agree to such terms when they can just keep on going as they have done before? After all, it’s not like their casters can just skip tournaments of that caliber, not if they wish to advance in their career.
In the end, it is probably the fans who have the most influence over such behind-the-scenes politics. If enough outrage is garnered, TOs won’t have much choice but to reform. In that regard, Richard Lewis naming names might give freelancers a fighting chance.