Earlier today, Jack ‘EternaLEnVy’ Mao published a nearly 7,500 word blog post accusing leadership within Team Secret of being, well, secretive about how it handled prize money, sponsorship deals, and a whole host of other financial matters. His remarks were archived here after the traffic they originally generated crashed his blog.
EternaLEnVy joined up with Team Secret after last year’s TI5 Dota 2 tournament, and stayed with them up through the most recent a couple months ago. During that time the team, which featured top talent including Johan “pieliedie” Åström, Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen, and Aliwi “w33" Omar, went on to win the Shanghai Major 2016, a tournament that included a first place prize of $1,110,000. From there, the team went on to crash and burn at TI6, getting knocked out in the first round of the loser’s bracket.
The post is long, and there’s a lot that’s covered in there, including images of conversations with everyone from players to lawyers, but here are some of the big claims.
Team Secret took a 10% cut of prize winnings without telling all of the players, and which none of them had agreed to:
“Not once on Secret have we ever talked about having a prize winnings cut to the organization. We have however discussed the complete opposite where we would talk about how it’s stupid to have a % prize winnings cut in DotA because of its abnormal prize pools. It was understood by everyone on the team that there would not be any prize winnings cut to the organization. Well, every player but Puppey.
Throughout the year I’ve been sent money in very random amounts, and I had no idea which tournaments the money came from. I’ve asked Kemal many times throughout the year to tell me what the money is for whenever he sends me a transfer but I didn’t get a report till Sept 8. I found out there’s a 10% Organization cut from reading the “rate” column on the spreadsheet. We were actually never informed of this. The current players of Secret also don’t know there’s a 10% cut.”
On how sponsorship were handled:
Nvidia offers video cards but I still haven’t received it yet even though I’ve been told I’ll get one since the partnership. At first we were promised the 980 card but then it got postponed. It got further postponed when we were told instead of getting that card we’ll wait for the 1080 to come out and we’ll get that one instead. After the card came out there wasn’t enough supply for for us and we still haven’t received the video cards yet.
EGB is a betting website that was suppose to be a sponsorship deal paying cash. Apparently they have not paid any money and Kemal says “I wished they paid.” Somehow they are still working together so EGB probably paid up (and Kemal is probably lying), but the previous members of Secret that also played under that sponsorship will never see that money.
As for MetaThreads the Jersey sponsor, Puppey has mentioned that the money from the jerseys isn’t much and that it will go into paying for food and other expenses. Secret has claimed to be open about everything and transparent but they have never told us how much they make from them even though I’ve asked sometimes.
On getting paid late, or not at all:
Anyway, Secret still owes me $29333 for the 10% Prize cuts, though I don’t expect that money back. Nor the 21K from the salary they promised. Hopefully they will pay me for the rest of the tournaments when they pay out (Epicenter already paid though, even though Secret claims they haven’t). I know a lot of players/coaches haven’t gotten paid yet. Please make sure you get paid! Oh there’s also that 1080 video card promised half a year ago.
Oh shit I just realized, Secret bought like drones, hired a porn star, and a few models during TI. They also flew in two of the CSGO girls. Doing all this is fine, but the lessons from this year told me that it probably indirectly comes from the players’ pockets.
Secret has taken a cut of approximately 340K USD (assuming they paid everyone which they did not, and EGB/Meta don’t account for any $). Anyway I’m sure that amount covered for all the expenses throughout the year. Hell, if the SEAcret boys were offered a salary, that’s where it comes from. Players like W33/Misery together gave Secret approx $56000 from prize cuts without gaining a single salary the entire year. I have given them $29333, and gained 24K in salary, for a total of -5K for the year. We actually lost money playing for Secret.
On the team’s captain, Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov:
Fast forward to TI, at this point I’m really disappointed in Puppey, and I’m not the only one. I tried my best to bottle it up though. But I fucked up one of the scrim days. Puppey has been being passive aggressive for a few days now, and Pieliedie was having a rough game and was being annoying. I told Pie to shut the fuck up. For the rest of the scrim even though me and Pie were sitting next to each other and understood that we’re still boys, Puppey just kept being passive aggressive to me. After the game me and Pie apologize to each other right away and we’re actually completely fine with each other. I played with Pie longer than any player in my life. Puppey who didn’t hear the apology continues to rant about me. I told him to fuck off and he says if I got a problem with him I should go fuck myself.
20 minutes later, I walk to the player dinner with him alone. We’ve been playing for almost an entire year and this is the first time I’ve shown him backlash. Still you could tell he tried his best to show disinterest in what I have to say. He eventually just goes into a rant where he tells me how he follows the team rules more closely than anyone (which he doesn’t), how he talks to everyone in an authoritative tone to discipline, and that he has no real problems, and that all his problems are minor and there’s no point discussing them. One of our rules was to stay as 5 throughout TI, during that player dinner he goes off with with Matt alone, and the rest of the team eats dinner and goes back to the practice room themselves without him. We never talked about that argument ever again.
A video was also posted on YouTube today depicting Puppey’s temper.
And according to EternaLEnVy, he worked with the team, helping them to earn over a million dollars in the process, without ever signing a contract:
I’m sure people are going to talk about verbal agreements a lot and that I’m stupid for not signing a contract. Well maybe so. Regardless I’m going to run my own org this year and ask my team to be stupid and believe in me. The Secret that was meant to be, hopefully I will be able to bring it to reality.
But EternaLEnVy, who went on to form Team NP, wasn’t the only one allegedly getting stiffed by Team Secret. Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen, who is currently with Digital Chaos, the rag tag band of Dota 2 pros who took second place at TI6, also put out a blog post today leveling similar accusations at the esports organization.
MiSeRy’s post is shorter, and also well worth reading, but here’s one of the key excerpts:
Post TI6 I still had not received the money from tournaments in 2015 as well as Shanghai Major. I started writing Kemal about the payments. Initially when I wrote him he was on vacation and we agreed he would contact me once he came home. This is another example of where I had to initiate the conversation. At this point I was told it would come the next week, and then next week after that. I was unsure at which point I should start contacting an attorney, go public or what my next move should be. I wrote Puppey about it as well. Puppey told me they had very little workers in Secret, that I would get the money, and that he would get back to me as soon as possible. Didn’t happen. Basically didn’t feel like he gave a shit. So I contacted an attorney and he started poking Kemal instead of myself. Kemal told my attorney he would send the money in two payments, the coming Monday. I waited patiently, but nothing. Finally I talked to Envy, who also seemed to have a few issues of his own. Apparently he also wrote to Kemal, probably mentioning his infamous blog, and finally I got the payment. Side note is that w33 is still missing some payments from 2015 as well.
These accusations against Team Secret come several months after Evany Chang, a former manager, detailed a timeline of events in which several players were denied prize winnings.
The evidence, as presented, paints a pretty damning portrait of Team Secret. It’s also a reminder of the ongoing challenges facing pro players in a business landscape that lacks a lot of the mechanisms, like agents and contracts, that might stop things like this from happening.