The legendary Swedish Counter-Strike organisation Ninjas in Pyjamas owes the players that made it the biggest brand in the game thousands of dollars in prize money and deferred salaries, sources tell Breitbart.
Sources close to the organisation provided Breitbart with a break down of money that was currently in the process of being paid out to the players over the last four months, with much of it still not in the hands of those who earned it. The source added, “The excuses for non-payment range from the tournaments having not paid on time to the players not meeting their contracted streaming hours.”
After players looked at what they were owed around August, they saw that the amount outstanding totaled approximately $340,000 in prize money and in-game sticker sales. Some of this amount comes from tournaments such as MLG Aspen, which was held in January of this year. Between then and now the players have been fighting with the organisation to get paid what they are owed.
We reached out to some of the groups that the organisation claimed had been slow in paying out money, and these allegations were denied across the board.
MLG had chased paperwork from NiP on multiple occasions following the tournament, with the organisation refusing to submit tax information. After they finally received the required information in July, the organisation was paid via wire transfer within three days. This is especially important as the players withdrew from the MLG-owned CEVO 7 LAN finals as they were told by the NiP CEO Per Lilliefelth that MLG were not paying prize money. Those finals had a $75,000 prize pool.
The Gfinity invoices they received this year from NiP were paid out after no longer than fifteen days, the quickest being a three day payment.
All FACEIT payments for attendance of the FACEIT League stage one finals were paid in the middle of July.
The NiP organisation has begun the slow process of paying the outstanding debt, with players subsequently receiving some of their prize and sticker money, however the players are still owed about $16,000 each in prize money. This doesn’t include the team sticker sales from ESL One Cologne, which is also currently outstanding despite having been paid out by Valve. Individual “autographed” stickers are paid directly to the players by Valve at the same time as the organisational sticker money, and the players have received these payments, meaning the organisation is currently sitting on the money that Valve issued. The amount is likely between $20,000 and $30,000 per player.
A source who worked closely with NiP explained that the NiP contracts expressly state that players are to receive money within thirty days of their organisation receiving it. The players brought this to the attention of Lilliefelth ,who was less than co-operative, as our insider recalls.
“He issued a bunch of excuses,” they told us, “stating that tournament organisations hadn’t paid out and they were chasing them with their lawyers. Half the amount owed was sticker money from ESL One Katowice, which Per said would be held back until the players could meet streaming hours.”
The streaming hours agreement states that the players had to do fifty hours per month between the entire squad, divided between them in any way. This is typically lower than some streaming agreements other teams agree to, however with an intense training schedule combined with travel and a general lack of motivation due to outstanding payments, players have in previous months fallen short. Since June the players made a concerted effort to meet this targe but are still owed multiple instances of prize money.
The organisation themselves do not keep track of these metrics. In part of an attempted reconciliation between the organisation and the players, it was agreed that they would keep track of payments on a spreadsheet with everyone having access. Lilliefelth is reported to not have updated this document once, contributing to increasing uncertainty that the players will receive what they are owed. “They don’t even measure streaming hours in this way,” the source told us, “they just complain about it retroactively as an excuse to deny payment.”
Former team coach Joona “natu” Leppänen, who left the organisation at the end of August after trying to tackle these and other issues, even offered to take on board some of these responsibilities in addition to his regular duties. “He was told no,” the source said, “with Per adding the players should do their job instead of worrying about the business. Hard to concentrate on that when you’re owed thousands you don’t think you’ll ever see.”
NiP were purchased by Nordic investment company Diglife in December of 2014 after the organisation had run into financial problems under their previous ownership, a joint venture by legendary Counter-Strike player Emil “Heaton” Christensen and businessman Niklas Fischier under the banner Stockholm Esports Productions. The players suffered similarly during this period, often having to defer salary so the organisation could meet other payments and enduring similar delays of prize money awards. Former player Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson, who now works for Twitch TV as a partnership manager, is estimated to still be owed in the region of $45,000 from this time period. However, despite being acquired outright by seemingly legitimate owners, the players situation hasn’t improved.
The fallout from the previous ownership saw the NiP organisation make headlines for all the wrong reasons recently when the former owners were taken to court for tax evasion. Lilliefelth followed up this report by publishing a bizarre piece of propaganda, lauding the former owner who still works for NiP, Emil “HeatoN” Christensen, as being almost beyond reproach. When Christensen was found guilty on October 29 and instructed to pay a fine and serve a period of probation, they even tried to spin that as a positive.
We have reached out to Per Lilliefelth for comment on this matter and are awaiting a response.
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