Two days ago, shortly after we published our article on the new CAZ eSports team, a lot of information came out about the organisation from the previous team. Jesper “Jesp” Johansson released a very large Twitlonger post, which you can read here, with all the issues that lead to them leaving the organisation. However here I’ll be summarising the main points, reactions from everyone and talking to some of the people involved in this situation.
Richard Lewis also released a video about the organisation, available through his Youtube channel where he goes more in-depth.
It started when the team was first signed to the organisation back in March of this year, they were verbally offered a signing bonus of a CAZ branded chair from their sponsor, this is something that they have never received even to this day. When questioned about it by the team they were told “it’s up to our sponsor”, which as rightly pointed out by Richard Lewis in his video, it’s CAZ’s responsibility to get the chairs they promised to the players, even if the management had to buy the chairs themselves. This was one of many broken promises by the organisation.
Most of the issues however surrounded the Dreamhack Summer event, an event that the CAZ organization sent the team to so that they can compete in the 3 BYOC tournaments run during the event. CAZ also sent a manager along with the players, Ryan “fLk” Oliver was told he was there to help manage the players with travel and food, write articles for the website and take photos of the event of the team that CAZ could use for marketing purposes, as nobody else from the organisation could attend for personal reasons ranging from work to exams.
The management promised that they would make sure the players had enough money for travel, drinks and a reasonable meal at night, and that Ryan would not have to pay anything, this would be a free trip for him. This is when issues started popping up. I asked Ryan to give me a run down of the event, and it started with this:
The problems began when the flight reservations were not sent in time, so we had a 3AM panic to get the flight reservations where they were needed so people could check in. So planning issues already became apparent…
Due to short notice I couldn’t go into full ‘player management’ swing of things, so I had 6-8 hours before getting on the plane to try to organise bits the best I could. We eventually arrived in Sweden, with no money and no support, being told that the money, after an eventual late response, would arrive later that day.
As you can see, Ryan was told everything would be sorted and they would get money later in the evening so they could pay. This didn’t happen, come the second morning the players had no cash, the management were contacted again and Ryan was again assured that money would be there by the evening. It wasn’t.
UKCSGO has since learned that CAZ eSports Management claim they had sent the flight details a number of times over the teams teamspeak server, but that the details were only sent via email at short notice.
Jesper “Jesp” Johansson ended up paying over 4900sek (£437) on every taxi from their hotel to the venue and back every day because CAZ simply didn’t fulfil their promises to the team.
After the second day of no money, Team captain Ben “r0m” Smith tried to talk to the CAZ management himself, before swiftly being told to “shut the fuck up”. The team eventually got money to the tune of £80. Which in Sweden was enough for one burger for each player, no drink. During a 4 day event this is simply not good enough and Ryan spent every last penny in his bank account. (He estimates he took around £200 out of his bank which he used making sure that he and the team had everything they needed and were fed properly.)
The team started to make things more apparent for me just how many issues they’d been having [with CAZ] considering I was completely unaware before hand, this was quite a shock. Topics of misled signing bonus’s came up and lies amongst other things. CAZ seemed to think the players had taken what the terms were and adjusted them, expecting too much.
If I’m at an event, I’m going to do all in my power to ensure that a team has the best possible success and least stressful time. That responsibility doesn’t simply stop when there are organisational issues, we had to make do, and in fairness to everyone on that roster, things were extremely stressful at times. However we did make it through and we made the best of what we had available to us at the time, even if it meant digging into personal funds. They key thing for me is that the players remained professional at all times, including, continuing to play.
Ben “r0m” Smith was also promised a salary for each player should they win all three CSGO BYOC tournaments, if they were to lose even one then they would not get a thing. This was agreed on by CAZ COO Ben Bagg and r0m himself however this adds even more pressure onto the players that were already stressed enough with the money issues, stress that was not needed. Also considering that they were playing for prize money (a total of 15,000 SEK, roughly £1350) and qualification spots in the Dreamhack Winter Pantamera Challenge. Something that the team actually managed to accomplish considering the situation. The team won all 3 BYOC tournaments at the event and earned a spot in this Pantamera Challenge.
The team and management held a meeting after the event and it was agreed that the players would continue on with CAZ, however there would be no salary, something that again was promised should the team complete the goals set out by CAZ, which they did, resulting in more broken promises for the players. Ryan decided to stay and keep writing content for the org, however he thinks he and the players should have left straight away
From my point of view, there was no bad blood, the world continued turning and all was sorted. This is eSports, fuck ups happen, you have to take them in your stride and work with what you’ve got. Albeit this was a little naive and in hindsight I’d have changed my decision and left after the event. [During talks with the team afterwards] I realised all 6 of us should have left from the get go.
However, I’m still new to eSports, both mistakes and lessons are still going to happen and from my POV, this is just one of them. Don’t let organisations fuck you around, stand your ground and make sure whats on the dotted line is followed.
This is when CAZ started to talk about releasing the team and focusing more on the UK scene than the wider European scene.
The CAZ organisation released a statement on Wednesday night, which can be found here.
With the team now picking up JAKEM and co. I thought it would be a good idea to get his thoughts on the situation and how his team were going to deal with it going forward.
I was in CAZ for a year before and its been by far the best organisation I’ve represented. Its clear they dealt with the situation poorly but there is always two sides of the story! We are all paid up and ready for iSeries already so there is no doubts from me in them delivering!
During the aftermath of this, CAZ Marketing Manager Eren Lawrence left the organization, stating
It’s a horrible situation, one that should never occur within this industry and that’s why I have chosen to depart from the organisation.
The players have all stated that Eren was not involved in any of the discussions regarding payment, the Dreamhack Summer event or contracts, and that he is not to blame for any of this
What do you think about all this? Share your thoughts with us on twitter @ukcsgo and let us know!