Valve sues Dota 2 tournament organizer GESC for not paying talent

Steven R. December 21, 2019

Former Dota 2 tournament organizer Global Electronic Sports Championship, also known as GESC, is being sued by Valve.

According to a report from Dot Esports, the Dota 2 publisher is working with its lawyers for an alleged lack of payments to players and teams stemming from the two minor tournaments it hosted during the 2017-2018 Dota Pro Circuit season. The GESC Indonesia Minor took place in March 2018, which was followed by the GESC Thailand Minor in May 2018. A number of top teams including Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, and Fnatic took part in the events.

In October 2018, an open letter was published to Dota.gg by Matt Bailey of Team Secret accusing GESC and CEO Oskar Feng of not paying the players who participated in the events as well as the broadcast and operational talent involved. According to Bailey, GESC owed $750,000 to workers and talent at the events.

“Several of the group have attempted to obtain payment by issuing late notice for payment invoices and through several conversations with Mr. Feng over the last six months and despite continued assurances that all debts would be settled in September, they were not,” Bailey said.

Dota Pro Circuit tournaments carry a 90-day limit for tournament organizers to pay players and talent. At the time, GESC was scheduled to run two other tournaments: GESC Kuala Lumpur and GESC Singapore. Neither of those events came to pass.

Dot Esports discussed the suit with a representative from Valve, who stated that Valve cut ties with GESC in regards to holding official events.

“Our agreements with tournament operators require timely payment to participants,” the Valve representative said. “We feel this is vital to the success of these events long term. When operators fail to meet those requirements, we follow up.”

GESC seemingly ceased operations following the Thailand Minor. No news or updates have been posted to the official GESC website since May 2018 ahead of the Thailand Minor, and the company has not run any other events since.

Details are scarce regarding the suit, including when and where it will play out. It is also unclear what actions Valve had taken ahead of filing suit. Regardless, this is the latest chapter in a year in esports that has seen multiple tournament organizers outed for not paying talent.