Heroic parts ways with HUNDEN over ‘clear breach’ of contract

The organization claims the Danish head coach shared the team's stratbook with other parties ahead of IEM Cologne.

Photo via DreamHack

Heroic has terminated the contract of its CS:GO head coach Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen and begun a legal process against him following an investigation that allegedly discovered he shared “confidential and sensitive” information from the team’s strategy folder with a key individual at a major competitor prior to the start of IEM Cologne.

This news comes one day after HUNDEN put out a personal statement saying he wouldn’t renew his contract with Heroic and revealed he was being accused of sharing Heroic’s stratbook with other teams. It was reported earlier this month that Astralis is considering the 30-year-old tactician as a candidate to replace its head coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen for the 2022 season, and Heroic revealed one day later that HUNDEN wouldn’t be behind the team at IEM Cologne.

Today was the first time, though, that Heroic said why HUNDEN didn’t take part in the team’s campaign at IEM Cologne.

“Prior to IEM Cologne 2021 in early July, the Heroic team unanimously decided that Mr. Petersen would not participate in the tournament due to severe trust issues,” Heroic’s statement reads. “Following this, Mr. Petersen blocked the team members’ access to the team strategy folder. Investigations revealed that Mr. Petersen had shared confidential and sensitive information from our strategy folder with a key individual at a major competitor prior to the tournament. This was done without the knowledge of anyone at Heroic, and would obviously not have been approved. Heroic considers this a clear breach of Mr. Petersen’s contract.”

“A legal process is ongoing in Denmark,” Heroic said. “Two courts have independently found sufficient grounds for evidence collection, which has been carried out.” Heroic also reported the issue to ESL, the tournament organizer of IEM Cologne, and the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC). HUNDEN’s contract has been terminated with immediate effect.

The former in-game leader had been working with Heroic since April 2020. He helped them reach new heights and win notable tournaments such as ESL One Cologne Europe in August 2020 and ESL Pro League season 13 in April 2021. HUNDEN was also one of the 37 coaches banned by the ESIC for exploiting the coach spectating bug and filled an analyst position from September 2020 to April 2021 while he couldn’t coach the team during matches.

“The Heroic team is shocked by Nicolai’s actions and deeply saddened by the way he has let his teammates down, especially given the difficult decision we took to give him a second chance after the coach bug suspension,” Heroic’s statement reads. “His actions go against everything we stand for at Heroic. In order to preserve the integrity of the sport in the eyes of fans and everyone involved, it has to be made clear that such behavior is unacceptable and will have severe consequences.”

Heroic were eliminated by FaZe Clan and didn’t make the playoffs of IEM Cologne. The Danish team led by Casper “cadiaN” Møller is the seventh-best CS:GO squad in the world, according to HLTV’s rankings. They’ll have to find a new head coach during the summer player break, which will end on Aug. 15, one day before ESL Pro League season 14 starts.

ESL’s managing director of pro gaming Ulrich Schulze has spoken on behalf of the tournament organizer after Heroic’s statement was released. Schulze said the ESIC notified ESL ahead of IEM Cologne that “Heroic had found HUNDEN had shared a folder with information with a person at a team also competing in the tournament.”

“Upon receiving this notification, we started investigating the allegations,” Schulze said. “During this investigation, our conclusive findings were that while permissions to access a shared folder were sent out, the folder was not accessed by the recipient in any way. Consequently, there was no possible impact to the tournament integrity of IEM Cologne.

“In the context of IEM Cologne, it was not necessary to determine whether the information itself and its sharing was a punishable offense. This will instead be part of an ongoing investigation by ESIC and potentially the subject of legal proceedings between Heroic and HUNDEN. The integrity of our tournaments has always been the focus of our attention. We have taken deliberate and swift measures when tournament integrity was threatened in the past, and we will continue to take all necessary action to make sure it is upheld now and in the future.”

Heroic said it won’t make further comments at this time due to the “sensitive nature” of the situation, but this story is far from ending. The investigations’ findings could compromise HUNDEN’s coaching career in CS:GO, especially because this would be his second offense.

Update July 29 11:30am CT: ESIC confirmed that there’s an ongoing investigation into HUNDEN’s case and is now awaiting “any further evidence that may arise from the various seizures carried out under Danish legal processes by Heroic”. The esports watchdog will reserve further comment until the investigation is completed.