Epsilon eSports Could Be Cheating SMITE Players Out of MLG Winnings
Epsilon eSports has been on the minds of the SMITE community recently, as they have a namesake tournament -- the Epsilon Invitational -- coming up this weekend. But there's another reason that the community is starting to buzz about this international eSports organization: it's possible that they've been withholding money from members of its SMITE console team.
Last October, at MLG's Pro League Tournament for SMITE on Xbox One, Epsilon's team came in third place after losing to Elevate in the semi-finals round of the event. The team walked away with $5,000 USD in prize money, which according to their contracts was to be split 80/20 -- with 80% going to the players, and 20% going to the organization itself. But it appears that the players never saw their cut of the money.
A thread on the /r/Smite subreddit and several Tweets from well-known caster Dmbrandon, Epsilon is withholding the $4,000 USD that was contractually promised to its SMITE console team. It's unclear how this information was brought to light -- though most seem to agree that the source is likely a player who is remaining anonymous for fear of losing their place on the team.
The Smite community should be more angry that @Epsilon_eSports is withholding $4000 USD from their console team. This was PRIZE MONEY— dmbrandon The Cursed (@juiceDiem) August 12, 2016
According to DM's source (and another anonymous source that GameSkinny contacted independently), Epsilon has offered several excuses as to why -- nearly ten months after the MLG event came to a close -- they still haven't received any of the prize money they earned. At first, Epsilon claimed that there was a 3-week delay in getting the money from MLG. Then they began to claim that they were missing essential information about the players' bank accounts and needed to rectify that before they could get the money to them. After a few more increasingly weaker excuses, Epsilon simply stopped answering inquiries about the prize money altogether.
This is not the first time that Epsilon has been accused of keeping money out of its players' hands.
Earlier this year, HLTV reported that Epsilon's CS:GO team was leaving the organization due to being "unhappy at the lack of support provided by Epsilon, who allegedly failed to deliver on a number of promises made" when they signed. Further digging revealed that the organization owed those CS:GO players four-figure sums and hadn't paid up.
A few months after losing its CS:GO team, Epsilon abruptly parted ways with its SMITE PC team for undisclosed reasons -- a seemingly strange move given that the team had just brought home the World Champion title. But many are speculating that the split happened for similar reasons -- poor treatment of its players and rather shady management practices.
So far, Epsilon has refused to answer Tweets or requests for comments in reference to the payout issues with their Xbox team. Now some members of the SMITE community have expressed concern that the Epsilon name is still attached to the invitational that is happening this weekend.
GameSkinny reached out to Hi-Rez for comments on the situation with Epsi's Xbox team. COO Todd Harris had this to say:
"Our default and preferred position with all Smite Pro League teams is to pay the players directly. In exception cases there are pre-existing contracts between teams and players that require payment to a team owner -- be that a portion of the winnings or the entire sum. In those cases we have players sign waivers releasing Hi-Rez of any payment obligation. But in the majority of the cases, including the Epsilon PC SMITE team, we directly paid the players."
Let me unpack that a little. Whenever Hi-Rez hosts an in-house SPL event, any prize winnings earned are sent directly to the players. But because the event in question was an MLG-sponsored tournament, the prizes won during the tournament were not handed out according to Hi-Rez's in-house policy, but according to MLG standards -- which explains how the money didn't make it to player hands in the first place.
In response to the use of Epsilon's name on the upcoming invitational, Harris explains that Hi-Rez is simply fulfilling a commitment they made when the organization's namesake team won the World Championships back in January:
"Epsilon did win the last Smite World Championship. And Hi-Rez had committed to host an invitational tournament in the name of the winning team. So this weekend's tournament fulfills that obligation."
So what's being done about the withheld winnings?
Unfortunately, not much right now. But an official comment left on the original Reddit thread reads says that Hi-Rez is investigating the issue and will take appropriate action according to what they find:
Only time will tell how this inauspicious situation will play out.
We have reached out to Epsilon, its players, and our original sources for further comment, and will keep you updated with any new details as they arise.