VALORANT teams and talent say they haven’t been paid by tournament organizer for September’s Pulse Series event

Pulse Esports Arena allegedly owes "tens of thousands of dollars."

Image via Riot Games

A VALORANT third-party tournament organizer has allegedly failed to pay talent and players nearly three months after its event concluded.

VALORANT players, casters, and analysts who participated in September’s Pulse Series event say they haven’t been paid by the tournament organizer. Earlier this week, commentator Dustin “dusT” Mouret came forward alleging Pulse Esports Arena owes a “good chunk of change” to all talent involved in the event. Numerous players and casters then corroborated the accusation, claiming they too haven’t been compensated for the tournament.

DusT told Dot Esports that payment was due around Oct. 22 but, from what he knows, talent, teams, and players haven’t been paid yet. Canadian tournament organizer Northern Arena helped produce the event and also hasn’t received any money. DusT said Pulse owes “tens of thousands of dollars.” 

More than a half-dozen sources, players, and casters also told Dot Esports they haven’t been paid for the event.

Pulse CEO and founder Dan Cybak told talent that they’d be paid within 30 days after submitting their invoices, analyst Alexander “LeX” Deily said. But Cybak kept delaying the payments, citing reasons like COVID-19 and investment dealings, according to emails acquired by Dot Esports. Pulse’s founder also claims he’s “personally [taking] a mortgage out to rectify this.” 

LeX, who’s owed $2,000, was hoping VALORANT would provide him the stable opportunity to transition from a player to talent. But he claims he’s experienced this before in other titles and it’s a “huge turn-off.”

“My rent is due, bills are due, but I’m left sitting here waiting on someone else’s word for whether or not I’m able to eat or provide this month,” LeX said. “No worse feeling than not being paid for work, save for not being paid for prize winnings. The players don’t deserve this level of betrayal either, and what was supposed to be a big event and an exciting time has left everyone involved feeling empty.”

The Pulse Series also offered a $10,000 prize pool to be divvied up among the top three teams. Mamba Mode Gaming was supposed to receive $6,000 for coming in first place, $3,000 should’ve been awarded for Luminosity Gaming’s second-place finish, and the remaining $1,000 should’ve gone to beastcoast. But players say they haven’t gotten any of it.

Built By Gamers’ Tristan “Critical” Trinacty, who was on MMG at the time, says the deadline passed and the money never came in.

“I’m honestly not too sure what’s going on,” he said in a Twitter DM. “We won the last Pulse 10 K… and then he said he would pay out at the end of the deadline to pay and it just never happened.”

Luminosity’s Alex “aproto” Protopapas says he and his team similarly haven’t been paid the $600 per player. The 21-year-old believes Riot should intervene.

“I think there needs to be a community ban on [tournament organizers] that are bad with paying out/not paying out at all or Riot needs to step in and set things straight,” he said.

Beastcoast’s Hayden “Elevate” Krueger claims he’s owed $200, along with the rest of his team. And he has “no idea” if they’ll get paid, but points out that Pulse is “tweeting like nothing even happened.”

THESPIKE.GG CEO Artur Minacov, who said he “never asked to get paid” for helping Pulse produce the event, released screengrabs on Twitter yesterday showing a conversation he had with Cybak.

Cybak says it makes him “sick” knowing how this affects everyone and he’s working with investors to try and pay up.

Riot is in the middle of its first company-produced VALORANT tournament, First Strike, and plans to further invest in the game’s ecosystem with a season-long global competition, the Champions Tour. But when the game was first released, Riot’s “early focus” was on forming partnerships with third-party tournament organizers to help build the scene, Riot senior director of global esports Whalen Rozelle said in April.

It’s unclear if Riot knows that talent and players allegedly haven’t been paid for the Pulse Series event. But Cybak told talent in an email that he made “Riot and their global team aware” of the situation.

Dot Esports has reached out to both Riot and Pulse Esports Arena for comment but didn’t receive a response by time of publication.

George Geddes contributed to this report.

Update Dec. 16, 10:07am CT: HITSCAN’s RyanCentral shared screenshots of Cybak’s private tweets yesterday. Cybak said on Dec. 2 that the pandemic hit hard and has been a “massive struggle,” but claims he’s “going to pay everyone.”