Home » Post ESL UK Premiership Choke Gaming rundown.

Post ESL UK Premiership Choke Gaming rundown.

by Archive

All statements will be in full at the bottom of the post.

ESL Premiership took place last weekend with the 4 best teams from the season meeting at MCM London for the grand finals. Sadly the huge win for UE.Smash was overshadowed by the public argument between the Choke Gaming team and management with issues involving the booking of the accommodation and the team deciding to part ways with the org.

The original hotel that the Choke management booked was cancelled by the hotel on Wednesday night before the event. The Choke management found replacement accommodation but was vetoed by the players who offered a 3rd option which was then booked. Choke management accept that the booking of the hotel was left a little late but explain that it was down to being let down by sponsors who didn’t release funds for them to be able to make the bookings any sooner. Vince – the owner of Choke Gaming went on to say that he took our a personal loan to cover the expense to make sure the players had somewhere to stay.

As soon as the team arrived at the hotel they were straight on Twitter complaining about the state of it and calling it a “construction site”. At first the players were apparently given a room with no electricity or any furniture. No photos of the rooms have been released by the players, but according to them they were moved to a more habitable room with beds. The Booking.com listing shows hotel rooms in a good light, advertised as “Featuring free WiFi, Luxury inn offers accommodation in London, 29.2 miles from Windsor. Free private parking is available on site. Some rooms have views of the garden or city. A flat-screen TV and DVD player is featured.”


Photo taken from the hotel’s booking.com page


Photo taken from the hotel’s booking.com page



Image from the players do not contain any of the rooms but are only showing the hallways of the building.

While this was the only image of the hotel we were given, a brief video tour of the hotel was uploaded to Youtube by Joee, which was passed to us.

While there are no lights in their room, you can hear from the echo that there is very little in the way of furniture.

To add to the stress of this, the rooms hadn’t been paid for on the team’s arrival. This left the team feeling like they would have nowhere to stay for the night which was voiced on Twitter by Joee.  ESL swiftly replied throwing them a lifeline and paying out their group stages prize money to help them fund their stay. By this time the Choke management had already sorted out payment for the room over the phone, but it was good to see ESL step in to try and help.

The third issue with this hotel that the players picked was the travel time to the venue. It was said to be about 30 minutes away from the venue, accounting for traffic this is obviously very possible, but without traffic the accommodation was a 14 minute Journey away from the venue. This involved the players having to pay a £20 Uber journey to and from the event.


It was clear in their game the following morning that the stress from the hotel left them out of step as they played against Team Infused and lost 2-1, bowing out of the tournament in 3rd/4th. Following the events of the previous day Immi and Vince talked about the future of the team and during this conversation decided to part ways. The cracks of this have been showing for a long time but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Immi decided to publicly announce the split from Choke Gaming to get the ball rolling on finding a new organisation for him and the team, going against the wishes of Choke to be able to announce this on their own terms during the week.

For the last night of the event the players were left without a place to stay, with the booking of the hotel being taken from the 3 nights it should have been to only 2 nights, and Choke claiming a refund on the 3rd nights’ accommodation. According to Vince’s statement, this was done under the impression that the players were going home early and put this nightmare weekend behind them.

The following day the argument continued with Steam messages between Immi and Vince being posted on twitter.


Vince of Choke Gaming had the following to say on the matter –

There’s been quite bit of stuff flying around on twitter with regards to our then CSGO player’s accommodation and support offered by us for the ESL UK Premiership finals at MCM. There’s always two sides to a story and although I don’t want to really get into it all, I feel it’s only fair for me to have chance to tell my side of the story and to hopefully clear a few things up. I don’t have the same network of contacts the players have so hopefully this gives me an opportunity to restore any damage caused by comments made. I won’t go into too much detail with regards to deals we have with our sponsors etc as that’s strictly private.
I’m also going to talk about our current stance with regards to UK CS and moving forward.
I’m sure other org owners can agree that running an org and managing players is not an easy task. Especially when you’re just over a year old like us. We’ve been fortunate to have some real talent grace our ranks in various games and been fortunate to secure good support from sponsors.
Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan. We are still a relatively new brand and only recently re-entered into UK Counter-Strike. I’m pretty confident we don’t get the same support as some of our rivals who have been around for many years.
For you to get the bigger picture of all of this I’d like to go back to Epic LAN 16 and our then precarious spot in the ESL Premiership Finals qualifier. We were sitting joint 4th and at the time going by recent results, it was looking grim and it was looking like we may not make the finals. The team hadn’t been playing much and had decided to take a break after insomnia and leading up to Epic LAN.
The players were really keen to go to Epic LAN and defend their title and as a UK org I’m really keen to support all UK tournaments regardless of prize money. We’ve not missed a UK LAN since reforming in June 2014.
I’d also like to point out that Insomnia 55 saw us for the first time have 3 teams attend + staff which wasn’t cheap. We learnt a lot from that and it all aids in our growth and improvement.
So back to Epic LAN. Unfortunately we were let down by a couple of sponsors who although promised to help failed to deliver. It wasn’t a massive problem as we had money to send the lads, book hotels, travel etc and although I used some of the funds saved for the ESL I thought.. Well, sponsors can at times take a while to follow through with promises but they’ve never failed to deliver. Even if it’s after the event. I also thought IF we do qualify for the ESL finals then we had a couple of weeks to prep and discuss support with sponsors and also recoup the support promised for Epic LAN.
We qualified for the ESL finals a day after getting back from Epic LAN and so the contact with sponsors began. As the ESL Finals weekend drew closer we were still chasing and waiting on some sponsors to help support the team as promised. The players were getting anxious and rightly so, and all concerned were worried we might not actually make it!
I explained our problems and asked the players if they could compromise on travel and rather than travel by train, if they would get a coach one way or both ways to save some money which then could be invested in accommodation. They refused. Stating if they had to get a coach they would not get on it and would fail to show up.
The players contacted the ESL and complained Choke were not offering the promised support and asked questions about the validity of who held the license for the ESL spot, Choke or the players? If it
was held by the players then they would look to secure support from another org and part ways with Choke. ESL said they would look into it but thought it best for them to remain as Choke Gaming.
I explained to the ESL our situation and although things were dragging on we were confident of attending. We had racked up over £950 (ESL Group stages) of prize money and I asked the ESL, while we were waiting for promised support could they front SOME of the money to help us pay for accommodation. They refused, stating that if we didn’t turn up on the Saturday we would not be entitled to the prize money and they would only pay it to us on the Saturday, on arrival.
Time was running out and the stress levels were rising. On Tuesday we were told by a sponsor (who has always helped us with accommodation) that due to budget constraints they were unable to help and apologized. I decided to take a small personal Loan and booked an apartment via AirBnB which wasn’t far from the venue.
Wednesday night at around 7pm I’m notified by the host on AirBnB that the property I’ve booked was no longer available and they had an alternative apartment. With only two sleeps till LAN there was little left in the way of accommodation on various websites or which was within our budget. So I accepted.
I gave the players the new address for the accommodation but they were not happy with the location and refused to attend if they had to stay there. Not only did they refuse to attend they went to twitter to complain and also botted my twitch stream with spam.
The players then gave me a link to alternative accommodation and asked if they could stay there (the place in which they’ve complained about on twitter).
I cancelled the Airbnb apartment losing £250 and booked the place asked for by the players, via booking.com
I’d also like to point out, that my mobile phone was broken so I passed on my home number to the players to call if they encountered any problems during their trip to London or on arrival. They also had our teams GM Shorty’s contact details. Let’s not forget theirs other mean of contact, skype, Facebook, twitter messages.
Friday night at around 9.30pm approx. I get pinged on steam “have you seen twitter”. I check twitter and see a barrage of complaints and tweets from the players of being scammed, hotel is a construction site, there’s no power and not been paid for etc etc. If this was the case, then this information wasn’t portrayed on booking.com and neither I nor the players could have foreseen this! But rather then contact me and explain the situation they took to twitter, painted a bad picture and caused a storm.
Eventually Max rang me. Explained it wasn’t that bad but wasn’t great, where they were staying was ok but parts of the hotel were being renovated and also no payment had been made to the hotel. I checked my bank statement and no payment had been taken from my card. I rang the hotel spoke to the manager and arranged payment over the phone.
While this was all going on the ESL decided to pay the group stage prize money directly to the players (going against what that had told me earlier in the week about only paying us if we turned up on the Saturday). I believe they did this under the impression the players had NO accommodation. Which wasn’t the case. I’d like to point out that the agreement with Choke and all its teams is that 15% of all winnings goes to Choke Gaming which is then used to invest in the teams even further. The players refused to give Choke any % of this prize money given to them by ESL.
I arrived at MCM the following day to show my support, watch the guys play and to also discuss all the problems in person. Of course they were upset and in hindsight I should have pre-booked somewhere sooner but alas I could never have foresaw these problems occurring. I had been let down by some sponsors. The players were de-motivated after their loss to Infused, the hotel and were talking about going home early. The hotel was booked for 3 nights but they weren’t happy staying there and having lost were considering going home earlier than planned. I asked if they had booked open return tickets which they had. Immi and I then had a long discussion and agreed to part ways. I asked if he could wait to make any announcements until Monday, or Tuesday but he stated he’d rather announce it that night to get the ball rolling and see who would like to pick them up.
I left MCM and decided to take a trip to this hotel to see what state it was in and to see if we were entitled to any compensation for misrepresentation. On arrival it was clear there was some renovation work being done but the place was not a “construction site” I spoke to one of the workers asked for the manager and was directed upstairs.
I met the manager and explained the guys weren’t happy with the accommodation. I asked about the lack of electricity and the manager explained that the power did trip out at some point but wasn’t out for long and was restored. I asked to see where the team were staying and he showed me.
I’ll be honest. The rooms looked brand new. Beds and bedding looked clean and they even had a balcony to go out on. There was Wi-Fi, showers and all the usual amenities one would find at a hotel. It looked comfortable. Was their renovation work going on in the hotel? Yes that was clear to see. They were going under some work, but on appearance this was far from the worst hotel/bnb/hostel/ I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t perfect….but what is.
I spoke further with the manager and explained that the guys most likely won’t be staying for 3 nights. They aren’t happy with the place and they’ve not made it to the final etc. He offered a refund on the 3rd night and I accepted. The players were no longer in the org. If they were going to stay a 3rd night, it was only to enjoy the free bar put on by the ESL. They had in excess of £950 given to them by ESL which they weren’t prepared to give Choke the agreed 15% (I’m sure there will be some fuss made over the prize money won for finishing 3rd/4th) and I’d lost £250 on the Airbnb booking. Recouping some lost money was a bonus. If they wanted to stay at a place they described so badly on twitter, then I’m sure they could share the cost, approx. £20 each for the night. Either way they had money to sort themselves out, if they decided to stay in London a 3rd night.
That night after a merry evening drinking. They went to twitter, stating they have never been treated so poorly. It’s a disgrace. This is why we’ve left Choke Gaming, say they’ve booked 3 nights only booked 2. They were now complaining that they couldn’t stay a 3rd night in a place they detested so badly? Erm…..
For the record, I have never broken any promises. I have always delivered on the agreed support and I personally take PC’s to each player’s desk at BYOC tournaments (for all out teams) & plug them in etc. Sometimes things haven’t gone as smoothly as we’ve wanted but we’ve always delivered.
We’ve had some ups and downs with the team during our 4 months together but enjoyed some good results mainly the 2nd spot at Insomnia. When they wanted to work for it they could beat anyone and I’m sure if they put their heads down, forgot about what this org or that org can offer & concentrate more on playing they will go far. And I wish them all the best for the future.
We don’t plan on picking up another UK Line-up right away or maybe even this side of Christmas. We may never work with a UK CS team again. We obviously don’t want a repeat of all this, so there will be some changes made back of house with regards to some processes we have and we won’t be rushing into any decisions when it comes to picking up a new team
Counter-Strike is a massive part of our history and we will defiantly be looking at getting involved again.
Thank you for taking the time to read, what is quite lengthy and thank you for giving me this opportunity to have my say.


Pete from ESL UK had the following to say based on the financial assistance comments made in Vince’s Statement.

“Vince contacted us on the run up to the ESL UK Premiership Summer Season Playoffs asking for early payment from the online segment of the competition to help cover the cost of his team’s accommodation, as he was unable to do so.

It’s our policy not to pay prize money upfront until showing at the event, which ensures commitment from all teams to attend the finals under contractual obligations we have with sponsors and the venue. If teams failed to show, they would be fined this prize money. This is clearly defined in the ESL UK Premiership ruleset.

In the extraordinary circumstances, when we heard there were issues with the team’s accommodation once they arrived in London the night before the tournament, we agreed to release funds to the team in order to help their situation”

The players involved denied to comment on the matter. 

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