Public row over missing payments engulfs big names in League of Legends
An ugly, public spat over missing payments have embroiled two big names in League of Legends.
Last week, League of Legends coach Nick "LastShadow" De Cesare broadcast an argument he was having with Gamers2 owner Carlos "ocelote" Santiago Rodriguez over Twitch. De Cesare alleged that Rodriguez owed him hours worth of pay for time he'd spent coaching the team.
The argument reached its height when Rodriguez, unaware the conversation was being broadcast, threatened De Cesare in full view of the audience on Twitch: “If you come with something of Gamers2, I will make sure you don’t get anywhere near esports."
Around July 16, Gamers2's manager, Luis Rivera, reached out to De Cesare and asked if he'd be interested in coaching the team. Gamers2 were competing in the Challenger Series for a potential spot in the League Championship Series. But Rivera was initially put off by De Cesare's price.
“I quoted him a rate that I give Challenger teams and ranked five teams that want to work with me on the side” De Cesare told the Daily Dot. “My rates are public knowledge. They are on my Twitch page." For a five-person session, De Cesare charges $195 per hour. At that rate, De Cesare said, Rivera wasn't interested in hiring him because he was "too expensive."
"That was the end of that, I thought," De Cesare said.
Except it wasn’t. On July 29, ahead of a must-win game for Gamers2 against H2K, Rivera contacted De Cesare and asked if he could do some “emergency coaching."
“I told him ‘sure I can help you if you can afford me’ and he replied with ‘sure we can afford it’” De Cesare said. After chatting on Facebook, the two jumped to a phone call. "I asked if they were sure they could afford it, because they had previously said it was too expensive, but this time they were saying it was no problem."
On the same day De Cesare was brought in for the emergency coaching. H2K, however, decided to forfeit the game against Gamers2, citing “internal problems.” That made the immediate, emergency coaching redundant. But with a quarterfinal match against Unicorns of Love looming on Aug. 5, Gamers2 decided to keep De Cesare on.
During this time, De Cesare worked directly with players on helping improve their play through one-on-one sessions. He also created over five hours of video content for team analysis purposes. He estimates the total amount of coaching to be somewhere between 12 and 14 hours. At the time, Rivera also said De Cesare would serve as the team's official analyst and would get paid a set amount per month.
Problems began when Gamers2 lost their best-of-three series to Unicorns of Love 2-1, ending their chances to get into a promotion series. Two days later, Rodriguez, the Gamers2 owner, told De Cesare the team had “decided against” taking him on in a full-time capacity.
On Aug. 8, Rodriguez expressly told De Cesare that Rivera's promise to pay would be honored.
But for the better part of the month, De Cesare continued to chase both Rivera and Rodriguez for payment. All along he was greeted with excuses, even as the pair assured him payment would be forthcoming. Then on Sept. 3, Rodriguez claimed there wasn't actually an agreement in place between the team and De Cesare. He wasn't going to be paid.
“This is not my problem, definitely," Rodriguez told De Cesare. "I did not agree on paying you anything." He claimed that Rivera didn't actually promise anything, either "from what I have seen in every single one of his messages."
"This is clear," he continued. "Talk as much as you wish but do not come out with a single lie. There is no evidence that you would get paid the amount you said. We have the receipts of your payments for four hours of work, I think Reddit will like how much we paid you for those four hours.”
At this point De Cesare made sure he started broadcasting the conversation on his Twitch channel. Rodriguez now claimed Rivera wasn't actually able to make any financial decisions for Gamers2.
“He is the manager of the team” Rodriguez stated. “He helps us in tournaments, to get into places, to do interviews and to give us water when we need so.” That was when he threatened to stop De Cesare from going "anywhere" in esports.
After realizing the conversation had been broadcast on Twitch, Rodriguez even took to the Twitch channel to try and deflect the building criticism. He also issued a statement on his Facebook page:
“For all those wondering. Gamers2 will never, ever, miss any payment towards anybody. I rather live under a fucking bridge than leaving somebody without his payment. Word.”
Privately the conversation between the two continued. Rodriguez said that Rivera would pay "from his own pocket" so that De Cesare wouldn't "make noises about the club."
"Everything [you did] was for free as we were literally testing how you coached. Your analysis is poor so we decided against it.”
The aftermath saw Rivera agree to pay $200 to De Cesare, the amount for a single hour of coaching. Even that money has yet to materialize, De Cesare said.
“They obviously viewed everything they did with me as essentially wasted time because it didn’t pay off for them” De Cesare concludes. “I respected Carlos a lot, respected his ability to build his image and build his brand. All my interactions with him prior to this were really positive. I’m just super disappointed that it has come to this.