MIX KOMPANY — the likely verdict

If you’ve been following my Youtube channel & Twitter account, you’ll know what this is about. If not, go back and have a look.

I have to believe that today is D-day, so to speak, for whatever ESL decide regarding the MIX KOMPANY situation. With the ESL Africa Championship league starting on Monday, they will need to announce their verdict — assuming they have one at all — today or at the very latest Sunday, to leave enough time before the start of the competition for teams to properly prepare themselves. Allow me to offer some thoughts from my side on what I think will likely happen and the implications.

There’s really only two likelihoods as to what ESL will do:
1) Ban them from the first season with no perma-ban for the players or the fledgling org, but with the option to return for season 2.
2) Acknowledge the situation, but put the onus on their two former MGOs to take legal action locally. In other words, allowing MIX KOMPANY to continue as part of season one.

I think the most likely of the two scenarios is option 2. I doubt ESL would want to make too big a thing of this, especially considering it’s their first foray into the African market. The potentially bigger factor is that it was in a qualifier prior to anything being signed in terms of ESL contracts, despite the player’s MGO contracts still being in place. I’m certain the big MGOs would have had copies of the rulebook going into the qualifiers, but I very much doubt MIX KOMPANY would have. That and it being a qualifier and not the main event are two big mitigating factors. Essentially I see a slap on the wrists saying “Yeah. it is a problem, but the onus is on the MGOs to pursue further action through South African legal channels.”

The question is will the MGOs do anything? I don’t think so, nor do I think they should. When players don’t want to be there anymore, whatever the reasons, there’s really no point in forcing them to. The MGOs could easily hold them to their contracts and allow them to sit in limbo for a year, unable to play for anyone. But they won’t and again I don’t think they should. It’s not practical, never mind potential legal costs that could be incurred to enforce it. And the potential for the likely resentful players to hurt the teams’ brand is also there during the rest of the year.

Many would have speculated on permanent bans coming the way of these players. I never really saw that as a possibility. Option 1 I offered above is the most severe thing ESL could do in my opinion. So why would I release the information then, essentially putting myself in the firing line of the community and even of ESL who I’m supposed to work for indirectly as a commentator from next week? For me it’s about the truth and the terrible precedent this sort of behaviour sets in South African esports.

Allow me to explain. Players need to respect the contracts that they’ve signed and respect the authority of the orgs that they’ve signed with. Those contracts are legally binding and the consequences are potentially dire for players if they ignore the rules and the contracts they’ve signed. In the transition to professionalism that’s rapidly happening in local CS:GO and SA esports as a whole, players can’t keep doing whatever they like. If you as a player want to be treated as a professional, you need to act professionally in your business dealings. Yes, this is a business and the tenets of good business practice most definitely do apply. There’s a lot of money on the line this year and it will only increase for 2017. Acting like children will not and cannot be acceptable in the top level of SA esports in 2017.

This kind of thing has happened many, many times in local esports and probably will continue to for years to come. But the precedent has now been set that there are potential consequences and you can’t just continue to get away with your actions guilt-free. The community is watching. Conduct your affairs properly as a player and with integrity.

Should I have kept quiet? No, I don’t think so. Had I not said something, nobody would have and it would have been business as usual. To my mind, that kind of morally corrupt activity cannot be allowed to flourish. If I see shady dealings and people getting hurt in the process I will always expose it. Only by bringing these things to light and dealing with it can we move forward as a community. Players would usually keep silent in these sorts of circumstances, but MGO’s are equally guilty of sweeping this kind of thing quietly under the table. This cannot happen in future.

Those saying that I’ve somehow not helped build the community by doing this or that I’ve done anything wrong in exposing this…where is your integrity? Is protecting your friends from the harsh reality of their actions more important than the truth? It would seem so. Shame on you.

People focus on the 5 players that they like and forget the other 5 that are now either without a team or looking to rebuild. The staff and ownership of the MGOs have also been badly affected. There’s money that’s been potentially lost, harm to sponsorship agreements and destroyed relationships as a result of this duplicity. Playing favourites towards these 5 players and forgetting the many others harmed by them is disingenuous.

The moral of the story is do things above board. Honour your word and the contracts you’ve signed. Do things in a professional manner without only focusing on your own self-interest. If I find MGOs engaging in shady activities I will be just as quick to report on it.

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