Outlaws, the former team of in-demand AWPer Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov, has accused NRG Esports of poaching the player—the latest twist in the saga of the player’s future.
UltraPlay, the parent company of esports organization Outlaws, has sent out an open letter accusing NRG of illegally signing the player. The letter alleges that NRG, which is co-founded by Sacramento Kings owners Mark Mastrov and Andy Miller, signed CeRq despite being under contract with the organization, and ultimately offered no buyout for the AWPer.
The letter comes two weeks after it was initially reported that NRG showed interest in the 17-year-old AWPer. Slingshot Esports also initially reported that CeRq was headed for Rogue, but that NRG made an offer at the eleventh hour. Given UltraPlay are now taking aim at NRG, clearly the American organization won the bidding way between those two sides.
Poaching is a controversial topic in esports. Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship Series strictly prohibits organizations to initiate conversations with contracted players, unless permission has been granted by the player’s organization. A similar safety net is not present in most other esports, however, due to the lack of centralization.
Despite the lack of a central organizing body, UltraPlay directs its concerns towards ESL as the organizers of the game’s biggest league. UltraPlay is demanding answers from ESL on whether or not they will allow a supposedly poached player to play in their league, and for associated bodies the World Esports Association (WESA) and Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) to set out their stance on poaching.
Update 6pm CT 08/22: NRG co-founder Andy Miller has rebuked the claims of Outlaws and UltraPlay—calling the charges levied against them “misguided.” Miller, whose response was sent as an email to the 64 recipients of the Bulgarian organization’s open letter, writes that CeRq has not been officially contracted by the organization, and will only compete for the team as a stand-in.