After Overwatch League game capture artist Michael “RYDARUS” Zhang alleged that esports organization Solaris owes more than $33,000 to current and former staff, the team’s social media manager told Upcomer that owner and general manager Cole “EventHorizon” Christini is nowhere to be found.
“Not even our co-owner can reach him,” the social media manager, who goes by Mustard on Twitter, said. “We know he has the funds to pay us. This whole issue not only tarnishes Tier 2 Overwatch but also the entire Overwatch esports ecosystem as well.”
Mustard also confirmed that what RYDARUS and others have said about Solaris is true.
“EventHorizon does owe a lot of money to a lot of hardworking people,” Mustard said. “The creative minds and talented players that have crossed paths with this organization have been wronged.”
Mustard is one of the longest-working members of Solaris’ creative team, having joined the organization in June of 2021. However, he said he worked there out of passion without pay. At the same time, in the spirit of passion, Mustard urged the community to continue supporting the hard-working people behind Solaris who have been affected by the organization’s alleged unwillingness to pay what they owe.
According to one former employee, around 20 people have been affected by the outstanding $33,000 payments. A former graphic designer from September 2021 to February 2022, MoMo Jones, also spoke out on Twitter about the situation. Jones also told Upcomer that these payment issues have been common in the Solaris work environment.
We haven't been paid and its been well over two months. @Solaris_GG what's the deal? https://t.co/h8RWgnA21x
— MoMo (@MoMoBitez) May 16, 2022
Upcomer reached out to EventHorizon for comment, but he has yet to respond by the time of publication.
More former staff join the fray
More former staff shared their experiences regarding the organization with Upcomer, but none reflected positively on the ownership or payment structure. Someone else who did work for Solaris, who wished to stay anonymous due to the possibility of retaliation, ultimately did unpaid design work. EventHorizon would promise payment but actively ignore any mention of the subject.
“Even top-level management staff, as well as the other owner, were often left out of the loop or ignored with decisions being made without consultation or proposals from staff being put down,” the individual said.
Another former worker, who also wished to stay anonymous, made an agreement with ownership for pay. However, after the deal was signed, the individual was left waiting for three months without any discussion about payment.
Bringing the problem to light
Finally got the go ahead to drop the name. @Solaris_GG owes Overwatch Contenders staff and players at least $33,000 from the various people that have reached out. https://t.co/rsT1YDPSeD
— Michael "RYDARUS" Zhang |🎮🎬💙 (@Rydarus) May 16, 2022
RYDARUS first brought these problems to the public’s attention on April 28 while referring to the org without using their name. He claimed that since the organization offered him a job that paid “significantly more” than what they owed his friends, the team either willfully chose not to play those working for them or they were lying about their money. At that time, RYDARUS said he wasn’t aware just how many people were affected by the problems at Solaris.
“At the time I subtweeted, I knew MoMo and Yyuio were not being paid and were owed about $3000, but I did not know about any of the other people that hadn’t been paid,” RYDARUS said. “I was frustrated because they wanted to hire me for freelance work and the rate they were offering was much higher than what they owed my friends, meaning either they had the money to pay for them, or they were just straight-up lying. Either way, it was inane.”
Weeks later, after learning just how many people had been affected, RYDARUS said he had to call Solaris out directly.
“I learned the $33,000 number pretty quickly, within days of that first tweet. I think the number is likely higher now,” he said. “Honestly, not sure how to feel about it. I highly doubt they have the money to pay that out. At this point it’s pretty much just a pile of false promises. The revenue doesn’t exist for the team to pay everyone what was promised.”
RYDARUS even said the people behind Solaris’ rebrand from Ardour hadn’t even been paid. On top of that, many of the people working for the organization were undervaluing their labor on top of the missing payments. Either way, RYDARUS said the $33,000 figure was mostly made up of small payments snowballing together.
After speaking out against Solaris, others joined in with their stories. This included former Solaris player Elliot “TR33” Chu.
incase any1 didnt know this is why we arent solaris anymore, mainly @ColeChristini failing to pay people and even taking forever to simply get us winnings from tournaments dont understand how its hard to just pay us the money we won and also not respond to any dms while doing it https://t.co/gOvOPMjrzl
— TR33 (@TR33_OW) May 16, 2022
“In case anyone didn’t know, this is why we aren’t Solaris anymore, mainly Cole Christini failing to pay people and even taking forever to simply get us winnings from tournaments,” Tr33 wrote in a quote tweet. “Don’t understand how it’s hard to just pay us the money we won and also not respond to any DMs while doing it.”
As the news came to light, Mustard used the Solaris Twitter to share direct messages showing EventHorizon’s willingness to spend money on expensive lunches.
Before RYDARUS made his allegations, Solaris seemed to be a successful Overwatch Contenders team — especially since they helped develop multiple, current Overwatch League players, like London Spitfire’s Landon “Landon” McGee and Jack “Vulcan” McArthur. The organization even expanded into Apex Legends and Halo Infinite. However, in light of the many allegations against the organization, the teams have broken down. Even with all the talent that have survived Solaris’ monetary issues, people involved with the organization stressed that it’s important for those in the esports industry to look out for those trying to take advantage of them.
“Have respect for yourself and your work, make sure you are paid for what you do,” Jones said. “Esports is a young and amazing scene. Let’s keep these type of people out of our scene and continue to strive for higher standards.”
About the Author
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.