SK Academy- the drama you´ve been waiting for
When you hear about SK Gaming Academy you would think that it´s a well structured and organized project, led by experienced authorities with the goal of supporting young players aged 13-20.
As a player, you would probably be proud to join a gaming organization like SK with both a LEC and Prodiv team, incredible coaches and the best support any German org can offer you. Well, that’s what the players thought when they joined SK Gaming back in Summer 2020. It´s also safe to say that most players wouldn’t have joined if they had known what would happen to them.
- Kimmi, working student for SK, was assigned to the project after it was put on ice back when Brokenshard (the creator of the project) left. Even though she tried her hardest, she had little to no experience in Esports and was left alone by every SK member who could be in the position to help her.
- After tryouts, 3 teams were formed that played for SK Academy for 2 splits. The only team that reached Div 2 got to play the summer split, the other 2 teams were disbanded.
- Right from the start, contracts were promised to each player. Players even received a sample contract back in August 2020, but actually contracting them got delayed month by month. One time SK didn’t know about the budget, the other time responsible SK authorities weren´t available for talks, the lawyer had some concerns, the CEO had to talk to the CFO, LEC& other topics were more important to address in meetings etc. The excuses ended in March 2021 after the players already played 2 splits waiting, still hoping to receive promised contracts and (small) salary.
- Looking back having 3 teams the atmosphere became more and more tense with every passing month. While the one team that was considered being the best team was invited for a bootcamp to the SK facility in Cologne and got to scrim on a regular basis because of their really motivated coach, the other two were let down, officially “due to Corona”, which led to rivalry between the teams and players. That bootcamp was also the only time anyone besides Kimmi was able to get in contact with the actual SK organization. Every other approach to talk to anyone from SK got rejected ever since.
- Working with young players always requires more attention, experience and awareness, since the online world is known for its wide variety of personalities, some with social and mental struggles. The Corona pandemic surely made things worse since social contacts were minimized and online school didn’t work out well for everyone. From my perspective it is highly! irresponsible to run this project without having anyone educated in working with teenagers who have experienced depressions, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence or bullying.
- Some people just don’t belong into a competitive environment or still have a lot to learn attitude wise. We didn’t set up enough rules and failed to apply punishment trying to be as kind, understanding and supportive as we could. We also didn’t have a proper way to punish misbehavior since everyone was just feeling scammed by SK and a lot of the frustration was caused by not receiving any contracts, coaching, help of very experienced SK players or coaches, not being mentioned on social media even once and just wasting a lot of time. The two lower teams left without receiving any of that. I think that most of these players are too young and too scared to go public, because being scammed by Germans biggest gaming org is pretty unbelievable and talking against them even harder.
- We had some really promising, motivated players joining the project who declined a lot of offers to play for SK Academy. It was not a big surprise that these talented players managed to promote to Primeleague Div 2 and being young and naive the players still hoped to become part of SK and finally receiving the support they deserve. SK still refused to contract, but atleast agreed to stream the Primeleague games and send a piece of hardware every month and also promote them on social media. Well, let’s just say sending the promised hardware wasn’t exactly high on SK´s priority list and the support on social media was minimalized. Only having a caster like @BehartmitBart was a nice gesture, but also made the project look more professional than it actually was. The split didn’t go as planned, our jungler left in the middle of the split (It was the best decision he could make under his circumstances, he is an amazing guy and we only wish him the best!). And honestly, none of the players really cared anymore. SK never claimed the Primeleague-spot and I doubt they even bother, the “big talk about the future of SK Academy” was delayed until god knows when SK authorities find time for it.
- The coaches were promised a small salary aswell. Kuchenkopf joined in August 2020, Freaky in January 2021 and until today they haven’t received anything. It was just promised to be done anytime soon. Both of them tried their best to support the players and share their knowledge and so did Kimmi who never stopped messaging her bosses about this project, the missing contracts or all the other problems, but in the end barely any progress was made.
tl;dr: The project itself was a huge disappointment and SK not taking any responsibility is even more disappointing. Special thanks to Abuse and Squalito who were a big help in the project. It took me a long time thinking about publishing this, but I heard a lot of rumors about what happened in this project and wanted to clear some things up.