EternaLEnVy accuses Team Secret of misusing player winnings, sponsorship money

by Dennis Gonzales Oct 9 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Team Secret

Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao has accused his former org, Team Secret, of delayed payments, taking an unagreed upon cut from his tournament winnings and using sponsorship revenue from Dota for non-Dota related costs in a lengthy blog post.

The post comes in the wake of Team Secret’s disastrous 13-16th loss at The International 6, despite their win at The Shanghai Major and second-place finish at the Frankfurt Major, after which EnVy left Secret for Kaipi before starting his own NA roster, Team NP.

According to EnVy, while the team did not have contracts, they were promised a regular salary in addition to prize money. However, he says he was paid in random amounts intermittently without it being clear which tournament the money came from and did not have a salary. Upon receiving an invoice from the team’s director, Kemal Sadikoglu, on Sept. 8, EnVy says he discovered that Team Secret had been taking a 10 percent cut of their winnings, even though he says the players had agreed that the org would not receive a cut due to the abnormal prize pools in Dota.

“Contrary to popular belief, Secret 3.0 never had any player salary,” EnVy wrote, although he later states that they received 8,000 a month while a deal with PandaTV was in place. “So although Secret at that time was a top team in both popularity and tournament placements, not only did Kemal/Puppey not secure any sponsors but instead they took 10% of our money.”

One of EnVy’s former teammate’s, Rasmus "MiSeRy" Filipsen, has released his own blog post in which he says that he had to wait more than year to receive payment for two online tournaments he played with the team as a stand-in in 2014. Both he and EnVy say that Aliwi "w33" Omar has also had trouble receiving back-payment.

Team Secret has faced similar accusations in the past, with the team’s former manager, Evany Chang, accusing the org of failing to pay her or the team’s 2014-15 roster tournament winnings for over two years.

RELATED: Former Team Secret manager alleges players still waiting on payments from 2014

EnVy also alleges that the organization kept $144,500, or 46 percent, from an aborted streaming deal with PandaTV that EnVy claims ended prematurely due to the team failing to keep up with the 250 hours a month they were supposed to stream. It’s a failure he places largely at the feet of the team’s founder and captain, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, who he says had streamed for only a fraction of the hours they agreed upon.

EnVy goes on to claim that Puppey had been a highly erratic leader, refusing to practice, drinking heavily during tournaments, verbally berating his players while challenging them to fights, and had violent outbursts in which he damaged equipment.

While theScore esports has reached out to Team Secret for comment, the team has yet to reply to EnVy’s accusations.

The PandaTV sponsorship

EnVy says that while streaming with HUOMAOTV in China prior to a tournament, he was approached by PandaTV with a $500,000 personal sponsorship, but he insisted they make an agreement with the whole team instead.

According to EnVy, the final deal between Secret and Panda was $1.25 million dollars in exchange for 250 streaming hours per month paid quarterly, plus a $250,000 year-end bonus made up of donations from stream viewers.

He says that he agreed to stream for 60 hours a month while Puppey and Artour "Arteezy" Babaev would stream for 30 hours a month. However, Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora and Johan "pieliedie" Åström and later Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale did not have set contributions according to a chart EnVy says is from Panda that shows how many hours the team streamed between mid-April and June.

According to the chart, Secret fell far short of their 250 hours per month commitment, streaming for 77 hours in April, 128 hours in May and 130 in June. EnVy streamed for a total of 216 hours over the three months, while Puppey only streamed for 12.

“Not only did Puppey not uphold his end of the deal, but he didn’t even try. Streaming not 30 hours a month as promised but 12 hours in 3 months,” EnVy wrote. “We were actually together at the bootcamp for a large portion of these months, so if I could stream why couldn’t he? If we weren’t in scrims, he was either playing custom games, playing guitar, or going out and doing who knows what with Kemal.”

According to EnVy, Panda ultimately cut the deal short and only paid for the first three months, or $312,500. In a series of chat logs supposedly between EnVy and Sadikoglu, the team’s director says each player would only receive $8,000 per month for the three months the deal was in place. EnVy insists they were promised $12,000 a month, but Sadikoglu says that was only including the $250,000 year-end bonus the team would no longer receive.

$8,000 per month for five players for three months means that $120,000 of the $312,500 went towards the roster. EnVy says another $3,000 went to the team’s sub, Nikolay “distilled” Prokhorenko, and another $45,000 went to the team’s coaches and managers totaling around $168,000, leaving $144,500 in Team Secret’s coffers.

Puppey and internal conflict

EnVy also goes into great detail on his relationship with Puppey, with whom he says he was very close with until the Estonian player blamed him for the team’s poor performance at TI6.

Even when the two were on good terms, EnVy alleges that Puppey would rarely practice with the team except in the lead-up to major events and would drink to excess on break days.

“For Frankfurt Major he probably played 20 hours of Legion TD, and that’s a lot considering he rarely came to the practice room,” EnVy says. “Against Vici Gaming, our match was scheduled to start at 6 PM only for him to show up at 5 PM. Everyone was like ‘Where’s Puppey?’ There was a break day between the VG Series and the EG Series, so Puppey decided to get drunk and sleep at 6 AM. The following day, he didn’t show up to the venue at all.”

Outside of their money disputes, he also says that Puppey was verbally abusive to his teammates, refused to take responsibility for mistakes and would frequently settle disagreements within the team by challenging his players to fights.

“We lost a scrim and Puppey and RTZ were arguing over some bad plays. I entered the argument because I believed that the picks were more important to talk about. Puppey disagrees and we get a bit heated,” EnVy recounts. “Before long Puppey slams the table and his keyboard’s keys fly everywhere. Once again everyone just stayed silent. Though unlike last time he followed up by pointing fingers at everyone and said ‘If you guys want to talk about who's right or who's wrong, why don’t we fight.’”

EnVy says Puppey was violent on other occasions, and uploaded a 20-second clip that depicts the team at practice until Puppey tears off his headphones and throws it against his monitor after what EnVy says was a poor public game.

MiSeRy​'s statement

In MiSeRy’s statement, the Danish player, who played as a stand-in for Team Secret at XMG Captains Draft 2.0 and Dota Pit League Season 2 before being replaced by Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg in January 2015, says he didn’t receive any payment for those two tournaments in the whole span he was an official player between August 2015 and March 2016.

“This money amongst other sums, took ridiculously long to get paid out,” MiSeRy said. “Hilarious as it may sound, I personally received it more than a year and a half later. I managed to get kicked twice from the same team before I got my share of the money.”

After joining Digital Chaos in March 2016, MiSeRy says he spent several weeks contacting and emailing Sadikoglu, Puppey and Secret staff about back-payments for several additional tournaments before contacting an attorney. According to EnVy’s blog post, MiSeRy was paid $182,000 on Sept. 26.

“It’s interesting to think about what would have happened if I didn’t continue to harass and be stubborn about my share of the winnings,” MiSeRy said in his own post.

He also criticizes the practice of delayed payments on the scene, saying it makes it very difficult of players to keep track of what’s owed to them.

“It’s incredibly frustrating. We don’t know when the tournament transfers the money to the organisation, we don’t know how much of this money is being taxed before reaching the organisation, and most of the time there isn’t paperwork on it either,” he says.

“There is hope though. We live in a world where a 20 million USD prizepool gets paid out a few days after the tournament ends, directly to the players. Why can’t other tournaments and organisations do the same?”

Dennis Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.