Trig Esports has talked a big game since its arrival into the industry in December 2014.
Signing legendary esports talents such as the StarCraft player Jang “MC” Min Chul and the Origen League of Legends team spearheaded by veterans Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, the company quickly spread across multiple esports titles. It even announced some grandiose plans for the industry: hosting three annual events in Dubai and starting its own gaming-focused television series called From Zero to Hero. None of those plans have come to fruition, and players such as Jang have subsequently retired.
Now, the Daily Dot learned that things may be more serious than failing to live up to big promises. Trig’s entire Hearthstone team is allegedly owed thousands of dollars in salary and expenses, sources within the organization tell the Daily Dot. The team allegedly hasn’t received any payments in three months, with estimated outstanding payments totalling nearly $18,000.
Trig reputedly informed the Hearthstone squad—comprised of Jan “Faramir” Engelmann, Daniel “DTwo” Ikuta and Harald “Powder” Gimre—that the lack of pay was due to an internal “restructuring.” This explanation doesn’t tally up with what has been happening within Trig however.
In April, news reports revealed that the parent company was being investigated for stock market fraud and that its auditor, PricewaterhouseCooper, was parting ways with the company. In a report on the Swedish news site Realtid, the PricewaterhouseCooper auditor cast doubt on the company’s subscriber numbers. “Trig Social Media has on a repeated number of occasions emphasized the importance of their member database of more than 3 million members,” the auditor said. “Our analysis has revealed that the company has a very low proportion of active members that generate revenue.”
Due to the investigation over these financial irregularities, all Trig employees are being paid by the Swedish government. This is standard practice for any situation where assets are frozen during an investigation or during bankruptcy proceedings.
As sponsored players are “freelancers,” they would not be covered by the same rights as Trig’s registered employees and therefore would not be paid in the same way. Equally, if bankruptcy proceedings were to be initiated, the players would receive no preferential treatment in the resolution of their debt and would likely remain unpaid.
The players themselves are unlikely to come forward nor confirm this publicly, according to our source. There is a clause in their contract that states that, in the event of any breach of confidentiality or any statement that damage’s Trigs reputation, any outstanding payments would be deemed void. Such a clause had no legal standing in Sweden, according to an organization source, but was still enough to ensure the players remained silent regarding the issue.
Trig also allegedly lured the players into signing with the the company after lying about a partnership with Swedish organization Ninjas In Pyjamas.
“The players were told before they signed that a partnership deal between Trig and NiP had been agreed” the source explained. “They were explicitly told that after signing they would be under the NiP banner and receive all the promotion that comes with it. This was one of the biggest incentives to join as it would help with tournament invites. However, after the players signed they had a chance to speak with NiP management who said they would never make a deal with Trig due to their reputation in Sweden.”
With its parent organization in legal trouble, it’s unclear what Trig Esports’ future will hold, much less whether it will be able to settle these outstanding debts.
Image via Blizzard | Remix by Jacob Wolf
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