Declan M. January 5, 2021
Mamba Mode Gaming, a North American Valorant squad that is currently ranked in the top 20 in the region, has separated from its organization following a lack of payment and communication from organization owner Gabe “Mamba” Ren.
The organization's Valorant team and staff have gone their separate ways, along with its Rocket League staff and team as well. The organization's academy team has decided to stick together under the moniker Baby Monkeys with the same coach they had under the Mamba Mode banner.
Lack of payment and communication cited at Mamba Mode
In a Twitlonger, the manager of the Valorant team stated that the team has been trying to get in touch with Mamba for over two weeks following a lack of payments to the players and staff of the team. The statement goes on to say that this is not the first time the owner has not been able to be reached, previously being unavailable for up to five days at a time for mental health and family reasons. The only contact the players have had in that time is Mamba’s Steam account which has shown him playing Balloons Tower Defence 6 on the service.
According to the statement, Ren owes his employees a month's payment in salary and over $3,500 in prize money to the players.
On January 2, the staff and players exercised their Occupational Abandonment clause in their contracts that nullified their obligations to the organizations after three days of no contact from management.
Because of the team’s disbandment, and the lack of communication from Mamba, it can no longer participate in tournaments that the squad was either invited to or had qualified for. The invites and participation notifications were sent to Mamba who has not responded to them. The tournaments include the upcoming Complexity x Nerd street Gamers invitational and the Nerd Street Gamers Winter Championship.
The Mamba Mode Gaming Twitter account has been changed to Monkey Mode Gaming and has been retweeting community responses to the situation. All former players and staff are listed and the bio has been changed to say that they are a part of a free agent Valorant team. Mamba has not tweeted since December 7 when he announced a roster move for the organization, and has since been silent across all social media.
This is not an uncommon occurrence in the early part of a game's esports lifecycle. Many players in titles such as Overwatch, League of Legends, and Fortnite have played under a small organizations banner only to not be paid for their time or given their winnings and have the owner vanish with a quick paycheck, never to be seen again. As Valorant and the game’s community gets bigger and Riot Games takes a closer look at who is participating in its esport, this type of grifting will hopefully be rooted out.