FalleN releases statement about contract dispute with SK Gaming

by Dennis Gonzales May 29 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Helena Kristiansson / ESL

On Sunday, Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo gave a lengthy statement to The Daily Dot's Saira Mueller regarding the ongoing contract dispute between Luminosity Gaming and SK Gaming, centered on FalleN and his teammates.

In the statement, FalleN confirms that the players signed contracts with SK Gaming ahead of the MLG Major Championship: Columbus while playing with and receiving salaries from LG. He gives a detailed account of how the players came to the decision to sign with SK, and later to attempt to renege on the agreement, leading SK to threaten to seek competitive injunctions and legal action.

The dispute was first reported by ESPN's Jacob Wolf on Friday. ESPN reported that LG's Brazilian CS:GO roster, including FalleN, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, Marcelo "coldzera" David, Lincoln "fnx" Lay, and Tacio "TACO" Filho, as well as their manager and coach, signed written contracts with SK three days before the Major, in late March 2016, without informing LG management.

The roster previously had contracts with Luminosity, which lapsed at the end of 2015. ESPN reported that in December the org and players signed a Binding Letter of Intent that laid out the terms of a new contract, including new salary terms. Initially LG intended to have the players sign a full contract within 14 days of the LOI; however, the players had not signed a contract with LG by March, when they agreed to the deal with SK.

FalleN's account aligns closely with the version of events in the initial ESPN report. He confirms that he and his teammates signed contracts with SK while they were allegedly under the term of the LOI. In his statement, FalleN calls the decision to sign with SK "the biggest mistake of our lives."

In FalleN's account, the players initially intended to sign new contracts with LG, but they were delayed beyond the agreed 14-day signing period because they were "focused in playing the tournaments." He also claims that LG began paying the players salaries in accordance with the LOI as soon as it was signed, and as a result the players' did not feel the need to sign a full contract.

FalleN alleges that SK Gaming managing director Alex Müller reached out to him about acquiring the team's lineup by email on Feb. 3, roughly two months after the LOI with LG was signed. FalleN claims he directed Müller to contact LG CEO Steven Maida, but that LG's other players continued to negotiate with Müller.

Fallen alleges that Müller and SK attempted to persuade the players that "they had better options and that they deserved better." According to ESPN, SK offered the players $9,000 in monthly allowances for their choice of living arrangements and flights home to visit family in Brazil.

FalleN alleges that SK convinced the players that the LOI they had signed with LG would not be valid if they signed new contracts with SK.

"They asked for details on our contract, asked for LOI, send it to their lawyers and gave us reports that we would never had any problem in that situation, they could 'free' us," he says in his Daily Dot statement. "They also mentioned that they would pay for anything that was needed in case of we going to court."

FalleN says the players then approached LG's management and said they wanted to part with the team and seek a new sponsor, but did not disclose that they had been in negotiations with SK. Maida initially resisted, but later sought several other buyers for the players.

FalleN alleges that the players received a contract offer from SK on March 21, five days before the team was scheduled to leave for the MLG Major in Columbus. The contracts were set to go into effect July 1. He says they signed the contracts on March 26, a day before leaving, allegedly because Müller told the players they were facing a deadline to apply for membership with the World Electronic Sports Association. FalleN claims SK told him and his teammates that they would have to sign before the application period ended in order for SK to receive a signing bonus from WESA.

FalleN also claims the players did not tell Maida and LG that they had signed the contracts with SK until after the team had won the Major. When the players did tell Maida that they had signed with another team, they began to feel remorse, he says.

"He was so disappointed as he saw his friends betraying him, and we felt exactly the same thing," FalleN says. "Everyone was feeling super bad. We felt that this kind of action was not part of who we are and we would fight to change that."

He says that when the players returned from Columbus they asked SK to nullify the deal, but the organization refused, citing the contracts the players had signed.

Afterwards, the two parties resorted to communicating through lawyers. FalleN claims that SK threatened to seek an injunction that would prevent them from playing professional CS:GO for the period of the SK contract, but that LG has grounds to dispute any legal action based on SK's alleged interference with the LOI agreement.

In the conclusion of his statement, FalleN acknowledges the team's culpability in being "naive and greedy," but nonetheless faults SK's "relentless approach and their lies" for convincing him and his teammates to agree to the join the organization.

SK Gaming have yet to make an official statement about the dispute, but are expected to do so in the near future.

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

Jeff Fraser is a supervising editor for theScore esports.