Chinese eSports company 4AM under scrutiny for mistreating players, industry needs to weed out exploitation concerns

In the first week of October, controversy first came to light when a well known Chinese Dota 2 player Liu 'Sylar' Jiajun was kicked out of the newly formed 4AM Dota 2 team less than a day after the team was first formed and announced. This incident apparently took place because 4AM had initially been interested in bringing onboard a different player originally, Zhang 'Eurus' Chengjun who is also known as Paparazi灬.

Anand Krishnaswamy October 14, 2020 13:37:18 IST
Chinese eSports company 4AM under scrutiny for mistreating players, industry needs to weed out exploitation concerns

Over the last few weeks, there have been much discussions about the lack of professionalism shown by the Chinese eSports Organisation Four Angry Men (4AM). In what could be described as a very unfortunate incident the organisation had recently announced a new roster to mark their entry into professional Dota 2, however within 24 hours they removed one of the players, deleted the announcement and made a new announcement with a changed roster.

Earlier, in the first week of October, controversy first came to light when a well known Chinese Dota 2 player Liu "Sylar" Jiajun was kicked out of the newly formed 4AM Dota 2 team less than a day after the team was first formed and announced. This incident apparently took place because 4AM had initially been interested in bringing onboard a different player originally, Zhang "Eurus" Chengjun who is also known as Paparazi灬.

According to Lu "Somnus丶M" Yao, another player on the team, the chain of events unfolded as follows— The team had  issues coming to an agreement with Vici Gaming about the transfer for Eurus and as such had come to a verbal agreement with Sylar in the meantime and announced their new roster. However right after at a meeting the team decided to revert their decision and bring Eurus onboard instead. This is what led to 4AM taking such drastic actions. The most shocking part of this incident is that the announcement to sign on Sylar came as a surprise to the players on the 4AM team.

Following this, the co-owner of Vici Gaming, Chen Qing, has also made a statement about the issue. He believes that the blame should be directed towards a partner organisation of 4AM known as Little Elephant. They had repeatedly backed out of paying a transfer fee for Eurus. According to him, this partner organisation was attempting to take advantage of the players desire to play on the same team as a part of 4AM. He further mentioned that Eurus had become frustrated to the point that he wished to pay the transfer fee himself just to get done with the issue at hand. Finally, the issue was only resolved via someone on the team having taken a pay cut.

The issues should have stopped at this point, however, over the last one week, 4AM has found itself under the glare of the community for all the wrong reasons once more. This time Bai “rOtK” Fan, who was expected to join the team as the coach revealed that he would not be joining. This revelation was made by rOtk amid tears, he stated that they had been in talks for several months before 4Am suddenly backed out claiming they had no budget left to sign on a coach. According to the organisation, if they had decided to stick with Sylar instead of bringing in Eurus, who cost them a lot more, they would have been able to hire a coach as well.

Following this second incident, John Yao, the CEO of Team Secret, a veteran eSports Organisation has publicly called 4AM a ‘s*** org’. The statement by him further questioned why players would bother to join such an organisation as it may fail to fulfil the obligations it has towards the players. He said it would be better to just start a team without an organisation since they went through so much effort to assemble a roster, they were comfortable playing in. Further stating that in an eSport such as Dota 2, most of the money is from prizes at tournaments anyway.

If the statements made by all the various parties are to be believed, the incidents involving 4AM hints at a bigger problem within the world of eSports. The industry is still relatively new compared to many others and as such has not fully weeded out the issue of exploitation. This is not the first time that the issue has been brought up due to mismanagement by an organisation either. In the past even Team Secret, who are very outspoken about the mistakes made by 4Am had come under scrutiny a few years back. At the time, multiple players on the team had a public falling out with the organisation and made claims that they were not being paid on time and part of their winnings had been unjustly taken away by the organisation under various pretexts.

The issue of exploitation by organisation which operate in bad faith is likely to be weeded out as the industry matures. However, this requires the industry as a collective to move away from such practices. The gaming and eSports communities will play an instrumental role in persuading organisations that in the long run they have more to lose from poor practices.

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