StarLadder talent supposedly paid, but bigger problems remains.
Over the last week, a lot has been said about tournament organizers not paying their broadcast talent on time.
The spark that lit the most recent fire on the matter was a tweet by esports professional James "BanKs" Banks. In it he said Christmas was going to "look bloody awful for my family if the TOs that hire me don't start paying." Sometimes, he continued, it could take 6+ months before he got paid.
A month previous, CS:GO caster Vince Hill had posted a similar complaint and, like then, many fellow talent shared their own horror stories in response now. Commendably, tournament organizers ESL and DreamHack both reached out to BanKs as well, to make sure that they weren't the ones owing money.
That left the question who he was talking about though. Esports journalist Richard Lewis was pretty certain about it on his By The Numbers podcast. Speaking to his Dexerto colleague Duncan "Thorin" Shields he stated "when they talk about the TO that isn't paying, it's StarLadder".
Indeed, shortly after their outlet ran a story specifically calling out the Ukrainian company. In its report, it also quoted Esports Awards Caster of the Year Henry "HenryG" Greer, who went on record to confirm the allegation.
"They are by far the worst offenders when it comes to this sort of thing and I can confirm that as of writing this, on December 3, I have not been paid for the Valve partnered Berlin Major that took place earlier this Summer even after being informed that the invoice had been taken care of in November." - HenryG
The Berlin Major, for those keeping score, ended September 8th. December 3 was 86 days later.
StarLadder has since posted a statement on the matter on TwitLonger. In it, the company states that "usually, when we collaborate with talents all payments are made within 45-90 days from the date of the project completion."
So even if it were acting in good faith, it was cutting it pretty close with HenryG. According to StarLadder there was a reason for this:
"The transfer for HenryG was sent on November 8, but unfortunately, there was a delay in a correspondent bank. HenryG was aware of this situation, we provided all the documents confirming the payment, and also asked him to contact the bank and provide these documents in order to expedite a resolution to his situation. As for us, we are doing our best to help HenryG to resolve a problem as quickly as possible." - StarLadder
The post ended on the claim that "there are no outstanding payments to CS:GO talents for StarSeries tournaments and StarLadder Major Berlin 2019".
Since its release, there has been no further word on whether the broadcasters in question have indeed been paid. Some of them are currently at ESL Pro League and probably too busy to follow up. But as Hill explains in a new video, the silence likely has a lot to do with future employability as well.
That does raise the question of how to fix this problem, if transparency isn’t an option. Some have suggested forming a union, but this has proven difficult in the border-transcending esports industry. Others speak of stricter contracts, but those may then just not get signed.
Barring involvement from game developers like Valve themselves, the way forward may for now be limited to personal decisions about who to work with. For the many who are not in a luxury position at the very top of the food chain, that solution won't save Christmas however.