Hey guys, I want this to be an open letter to help clear the air regarding the situation with Noble, let you know what we will be doing moving forward, and to respond to some of the claims reported on the Noble website. I think it’s only fair for both sides to provide their perspective; I obviously am biased regarding how this situation has been handled but I’m also at peace with what has transpired as a result because I’m confident that my team is in the right.
To be honest, we were excited to enter into an agreement with Noble, because it was a widely-recognized organization, had plenty of sponsor support, and because we were promised all the materials we needed to succeed – controllers, headsets, clothing, gaming seats – the whole nine yards. The contract even had the name of a well-known and respected eSports lawyer – Bryce Blum – so we felt it had some legal credence. It was the promises and the failure to deliver on-time, however, that started keying us into the fact that the organization that we had joined was less-than-professional in its handling of sponsorships and players. First, on the promised gear. Yes, we received much of what was promised to us, but even though we had made the request for controllers and headsets weeks in advance of Regionals, the delivery of this equipment didn’t happen until we had already departed for Regionals or even when we returned. When asked on several occasions for updates, Paul repeatedly blamed the sponsors (a rather unprofessional move in my opinion) and refused to take responsibility for getting us what had been promised. I had to purchase my own controller, and was refused reimbursement. Even the basic gear needed to play the games were not provided.
Most of that is, unfortunately, a moot point, as none of the promised gear appeared in our contracts, which I’m sure Paul will be quick to point out. Chalk that one up to our inexperience. At the same time, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it is a pretty underhanded business practice to not promise basic gear as language in all professional player contracts. The contract will come up later, so keep that in mind. Moving on.
What has been undoubtedly the most glaring issue with this relationship has been the borderline criminal activity related to compensation and awards. Not only did Paul write into our contract that they would receive all winnings and divide it out accordingly, in several conversations he mentioned that his process for giving us our divided winnings from HWC would be in small increments, in order to avoid any IRS red-flags. The minute I heard that, my heart honestly sank. To be in a contract with an organization that handled its business in a way that at best is bad financial practice and at worst is proposing criminal tax evasion, in which we would be participating, was unconscionable. There was no way I would allow myself or my team to be subjected to questionable practice with HWC winnings, especially if it made us party to felonious activity. We needed out. I started looking at our contract for provisions that would enable us to amicably split.
Ah, the contract. Now, unlike some who handle their business by posting private conversations publicly to prove a point, I will avoid posting screenshots of the contract at this point and just make some general comments. If Noble wishes to question my comments here, I’d be happy to publicize any or all of the details, but I warn you that this contract is not pretty. The technical terms I would use to describe the contract are “ambiguities” and “inconsistencies.” How long is the contract? Is it 2 months or 6? Because it says both (and this isn’t the only place numbers are mis-stated). The Assuming two months, you legally won’t even be under contract with us when we go to HWC. The mathematics of dividing up prize money is incorrect. The distinction between “Team” and “Company” is pretty clear, and the rights given to us, the “Team,” are probably a lot more than the organization expected. I’m actually embarrassed that I signed such a contract, but at the same time the ambiguities and inconsistencies point to an impossible to interpret set of clauses. Not to mention that our recent conversations with Bryce Blum have revealed that he was not the legal entity who wrote that contract. We were misled, plain and simple.
Finally, Noble’s public statement. The information presented there paints a happy picture leading up to and including Regionals, which was far from the truth. Because of undelivered gear and general mistreatment from Paul for even minor things such as who pays for meals, we were legitimately discontent. Sure, Noble leadership was probably thrilled when we qualified – after all, they provided us next to nothing and we muscled through and qualified of our own accord. I don’t think they should be patting their backs, though. I was already talking to legal counsel about the contracts, because the bomb of possible tax evasion had already been dropped, my team was disillusioned with the organization, and we wanted out. My lawyer advised me that the contract, on the (de)merits of its flagrant inconsistencies, would never be rendered valid by any legal course, and that leaving the organization was certainly a plausible option. So we, trying to be professional and actually talk to our management, organized a (yes, late night, that’s simply how it turned out) call where we laid out exactly what we wanted: we wanted out. Period. End of story. There was no perceived trolling; I’m pretty sure they knew we were incredibly unhappy. The description of Paul’s response to us, though, was right-on. We signed the contract, so we were obligated, by his perception. That was on Wednesday, February 24.
We seriously mulled that over, but again knew of the contracts’ inconsistencies and mistakes, so we decided to go at it on our own. We really had no choice at this point. Paul refused any conversations with me, instead suggesting that I take it up with his own legal counsel. We contacted ESL on the 26th to request a team name change and a coaching change. ESL responded on the 27th requesting a Skype conversation, but before the conversation, detailed in an e-mail to us that a.) The team, CWL spot, and all decision making belonged to me, as captain of the team, and not to Noble; b.) a team name change is permissible but they advised an amicable resolution between the team and Noble; c.) a coaching change might be permitted. ESL and my team had the call as scheduled on Monday the 29th (so no, we did not no-show, unless there was a call to which we weren’t invited), where the points were reiterated and we received permission to change coaches.
That was just 2 days ago. Yesterday Noble released its statement resolutely declaring we would be on that team. I resolutely disagree. I say here and now that we are no longer a part of the Noble organization. Period. Any legal ramifications can be pursued if desired, but I advise Noble to tread lightly – their case is flimsy, at best, due to the poorly written contract and criminal behavior prior to our leaving. We cannot – and will not – be forced to receive pay to evade taxes or to help Noble to evade theirs. We also will not stand to continue in a contract that says we are committed to 2 or 6 months, to receive seven or 16.25% of revenues, or where we can buyout each other from our own Halo team. It’s a quite literal joke – and we are no longer part or party of it. We are moving on, and our best advice to Noble is to do the same. If you want to continue to drag your own name through the mud, by all means, but rest assured we are over it.
Moving forward, we are happy to announce that we have reached out to Team eLevate, and are quite pleased with the reception and support they have provided us even in the short interim; therefore we have chosen to become a part of their organization for the foreseeable future. While eLevate has made it clear that they are not taking part in any legal disagreements between us and Noble, we have emphasized that, as far as we are concerned, we are not a part of Noble and are therefore free to join whatever organization we choose from those willing and able to take us in.
Thank you to all of my friends and our fans for their support through this ordeal. We sincerely hope you will continue to support us and cheer us on as we represent the #RedRebellion at HWC and beyond.