TSM part ways with sgares following release of player-signed open letter

by Dennis Gonzales Dec 23 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Team SoloMid

Sean "sgares" Gares has parted ways with Team SoloMid following the release of an open letter signed by 25 North American CS:GO players. The letter, which was signed by sgares and the rest of TSM's roster, spoke out against the Professional Esports Association (PEA) allegedly looking to prevent players from participating in the upcoming season of ESL Pro League.

The news was revealed via Twitter on Dec. 22 in a series of screenshots from Skype and WhatsApp conversations between sgares and TSM founder Andy "Reginald" Dinh. In the conversations, Reginald claims that sgares never spoke to him about the concerns outlined in the open letter and that the letter harmed TSM's brand.

"No I'm not saying that I'm cutting you over standing up for players rights. I'm saying that I'm looking to replace you because you didn't even bother to have 1 conversation with me before tarnishing our brand," Reginald said in a WhatsApp conversation.

Reginald accused sgares of "playing vicitim" and claimed that he was willing to drop out of PEA if the players spoke to him before the letter had been released. He also accused sgares of encouraging "other players to take part in this without even reading the letter."

After that exchange, sgares said that he did not "feel safe or comfortable on your org" and agreed that "it might be best for us to part ways."

RELATED: 25 players speak out against NA team owners' plan to exclude ESL Pro League

On Dec. 23, Reginald released a statement on Twitter that explained his decision behind releasing sgares, alleging that within a week of joining the team he “misled and manipulated my other players, convincing them to add their names to a letter they had not read and did not understand” in addition to hurting TSM's brand.

"What do you do when you find out one of your players of less than a week is working against you and your company?" Reginald wrote. "How can I trust Sean on my team when he can’t even bother to talk to me personally about his concerns before taking a public stance against me? At this point my working relationship with Sean had been tarnished, I could not trust to keep him on my team."

Reginald said that while he was willing to "work things out with Sean," he will respect the player's desire to part ways with TSM and will allow him to go to whichever team he wishes.

Reginald also released chat logs with Hunter “SicK” Mims and sgares’ long-time teammate, Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, in which they say that they were not directly involved with the letter and had not read its contents. Reginald also said no players had come to him with concerns over their treatment prior to the release of the letter and that he felt “betrayed” when they tweeted #playersrights, which he felt hurt the TSM brand.

“I’m fine with players fighting for player rights and I believe they should stand up for themselves and what they believe in but this is a case of Sean manipulating the 4 other players on my team,” Reginald said. “There are much more productive ways for them to handle this situation, call me, talk to me, refuse to play - but shaming me before understanding my intentions is not productive.”

Scott “SirScoots” Smith, who represented the 25 players in their open letter, responded to Reginald’s statement saying all players had approved the tone and contents of the letter and had been given the option to read the exact text before it was released.

“Many players said that the tone and messaging was enough for them to approve and since the letter has been published, no player has contacted me with any concerns about their name being attached to it,” he wrote on Twitlonger. “If anything, we have been contracted by even more PEA players who are now supportive of our cause.”

TSM’s Skyler “Relyks” Weaver also released a statement on behalf of the team, including SicK and ShahZaM, saying that sgares had not manipulated them to sign the letter and confirmed that they had all been in a call with SirScoots where he outlined the tone and contents of the letter and consented to having their names on it.

“To address some of the statements made in Andy's post, in no way were we manipulated by Sean,” Relyks wrote. “Some of us may have had more information than others or been more involved in this endeavor, but we all understood what we were doing when we gave the okay to put our names on the letter. Also, the conversation logs with ShahZaM were before Sean was 'released'. We just want to make it clear that we weren't throwing him under the bus.”

RELATED: Report: PEA to ban teams from playing in ESL Pro League

sgares then released his own response to Reginald’s statement, saying that he and Reginald had had a constructive lunch on Dec. 9, prior to him being publicly announced as a member of the team, after an initial private letter that outlined the players' concerns were sent to PEA with their concerns.

“He was aware when we went to lunch that Scott was representing the players, including me, in our discussion with the PEA,” sgares said. “He understood that this meant all of the official communication needed to go through Scott and Jason Katz - just like when any players association head meets with any league commissioner. We had a very friendly lunch and he expressed no issues about anything. So I don't understand why now he is upset about my communication decisions. He never expressed any concerns about them until today.“

sgares also said that the players had decided to have SirScoots represent them prior to him joining the team and that none of them had intended for the negotiations and public messaging to put their orgs and owners in a bad light. However, he still says the players had the right to make their concerns public.

“As players, we should be able to stand up for ourselves and each other - and tell the truth - without being afraid that our team owners will accuse us of damaging them,” sgares said. “The way I see it, if the community finding out what really happened is damaging to you, then you only have yourself to blame. We specifically made it a point to be honest and respectful with our organization owners throughout this process."

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oraclea P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest. You can follow him on Twitter.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.