Amidst the ongoing team payment controversies regarding organizations such as Ninjas in Pyjamas and Quantum Bellator Fire, Epsilon Esports has come under fire. Previous players from the organization have come forward to give their story regarding late payments, underpaid salaries, or no payments at all.
Some members of Epsilon’s now defunct H1Z1 team reached out to Upcomer claiming that Greg Champagne, the CEO and managing director of Epsilon Esports, did not pay his players the full amount to which they were legally owed by their contracts. Payments that players would receive were either late and/or not paid in full.
Two players have come forward stating that their salaries were $50,000 per annum, per player. However, one player told Upcomer that he only received $12,500 during his six month tenure. A second player came forward stating that he only received $9,000. According to him, he was only paid for 2-3 months out of the 6 months he was with the organization. Overall, each player is owed a total exceeding $16,000 each.
Private Messages obtained by Upcomer state that Champagne told the players that payment was made on July 29 2018. According to the source, this was not true. Further messages show the player’s teammates asking for the payment as late as August 16. As the messages continue, payment was still not made even though players constantly asked Champagne.
The players even sent a legal demand letter via email in late October 2018. A copy of this letter has been acquired and is shown below.
“Dear Mr. Champagne:
As you well know, we entered into agreements with JUST IT scrl (“Epsilon”) earlier this year. Indeed, all of us entered into our Agreements with Epsilon on April 11th, 2018. We write to you as the managing director of Epsilon who signed our Agreements. Please forward this on to any other interested parties who might need notice of the issues contained in this letter.
Those Agreements provide that we are to be paid annual compensation of $50,000.00 USD, which amounts to $4,166.66 USD per month. We do not share in any revenue, we do not receive benefits, or insurance, or vacation or sick pay. We have quit jobs, moved, taken on leases and other obligations, and made other sacrifices because we were promised this compensation, in writing, by Epsilon.
Epsilon has failed to fulfill its obligations under the Agreements. We have not been paid our monthly compensation for August to the present, totaling $16,666.64 USD per player. We have further not been paid our share of the prize money we have earned (16% per player, cumulatively 80% of the prize money), amounting to an additional $672.00 USD per player.
Epsilon has told us that its failure to pay is due to the H1Z1 Pro League failing to pay the individual teams what they are due. To the extent you have documentation of the H1Z1 Pro League’s failure to pay Epsilon any money that is due to the players or that would be used to pay the players, we formally request that you send us this documentation. We also request that you send us documentation of any contracts or agreements between Epsilon and the H1Z1 Pro League that reflects the various obligations between Epsilon and the H1Z1 Pro League concerning the payment of players or Epsilon’s obligations to be financially stable independent of the H1Z1 Pro League. Finally, we request that you send us an itemized invoice of any deductions you have made from each player’s promised monthly compensation.
This letter constitutes notice under Section 9 of the Agreements that JUST IT scrl is in material breach of the Agreements. You have fourteen (14) days—or until November 13—to pay us what we are due under the Agreements, which now totals $17,338.64 per player. We sincerely hope to avoid pursuing legal remedies, which could further involve whether we have been misclassified as independent contractors and other wage and hour questions and claims. We have, however, spoken with legal counsel about this matter in case we cannot reach an amicable solution. In the meantime, we reserve all of our rights, statutory, contractual, or otherwise.”
This was met by no direct response. However, the players continued to ask Champagne about the salaries until he answered. Instead of apologizing, Champagne criticized the invoices which the players used to request their salary. “It’s like a child who made this,” he stated. Therefore, these payments were withheld.
Furthermore, monthly payments were often delayed and sometimes the full amount wasn’t paid. However, Epsilon told the players that this was deducted from the salary for fees including flights, lawyers, and rent. The player asked for a breakdown of this spending but did not receive an answer.
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Another separate source, this time from Epsilon’s disbanded Counter-Strike team told Upcomer that around 90% of his payments were late, with only one being on time. This player is still owed more than 1500€ ($1,680.14 USD).
One player was told by Champagne that their team will receive computers for the H1Z1 Pro League. The team arrived in Las Vegas around April 10 2018. However, the computers were not sent to them until June 9 2018, two months after they arrived. In the meantime, the team had to play on laptops. Furthermore, one separate source told Upcomer that they were promised a gaming chair, headphones, and keyboard. This was never received. Also, his payments were late.
Publicly, Counter-Strike player Owen “smooya” Butterfield has been critical of the organization and Greg Champagne himself as he had to ask multiple times in order to receive his salary.
One player has told Upcomer that this experience had a huge impact on his life. He claimed that he was homeless in Canada whilst waiting for this money to arrive. He quit university to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional H1Z1 player but this ended with Epsilon’s treatment.
Upcomer has spoken to Ryan Fairchild, an esports attorney. When asked about as to whether Epsilon is at legal fault for not paying the full amount noted in the contracts, he replied with “most definitely”.
He continued, “You're a Belgian organization with foreign players, so you know it's going to be difficult for them to sue, even in the equivalent of small claims court, so you're essentially shielded by the nature of the industry.”
Upcomer has been in contact with Greg Champagne. Regarding the previous payments, he commented:
“We will let our formal players express themselves, as all have been paid or are currently in the process of agreed with player. Frustration of late payments can have its toll, but we are making all the necessary arrangements with the players. The only real unfortunate situation is the H1Z1 bankruptcy, where orgs will never be reimbursed their expenses and investment. And of course most of all player frustration to be left without a job mid season with obligations. Fortunately, some of the big US orgs were able to help their players.”
Contrary to Vie.gg’s recent report on Epsilon Esports shutting its doors, Champagne has told Upcomer that that the organization will return in September following a re-staffing. According to him, it is not going anywhere.
However, CEO of Vie.gg Grant Johnson has told Upcomer that they received this information from Sami Bessi, the original founder of the organization. Currently, the status of Epsilon Esports is unknown.
Upcomer has requested a comment from the original Epsilon founder Sami Bessi.