BearClaw Gaming was accused of not paying the organization’s management and Valorant players back in February. Now, the organization’s CEO is speaking out on exactly what happened and why.
BearClaw had signed a Korean pro Valorant roster. Without any support being given or payments being made, all of the players and staff had their contracts terminated a short time later. The Valorant squad decided to continue competing together under a different banner. But BearClaw was left to be judged by a community that felt the organization was responsible for the unpaid staff and players.
Since then, a lot has come to light. BearClaw founder and CEO Harley “Reaper” Elizabeth Ipolani Parks, who is just 17 years old, spoke to WIN about the situation and what really went down last month when BearClaw’s Valorant team was in the spotlight for not getting paid.
What happened in February when your team’s players announced that they didn’t get paid?
Reaper: In December we were promised funding by a holdings company, Plynius. We were told to bring on good teams and that the players and management would get paid. But when the time came for the payment, I wasn’t paid and the players weren’t paid. By February 15, BearClaw staff actually talked with the Valorant players to coordinate our released statements. We also announced that we were breaking off from Plynius since nobody was paid at all.
????Announcement to all the fans in Esports????
I appreciate the retweet, this is a huge issue and I hope other people know about this.
리트윗 부탁드립니다. 여러분들의 도움이 필요합니다! 꼭 널리 널리 퍼트려주세요. 이스포츠에서 이런 일들이 다시는 일어나지 않아야 합니다. pic.twitter.com/rebXiluBOl
— Steven Kim (@StevenKim_96) February 14, 2021
Not long after that, Plynius posted my termination letter without my consent. They also tweeted that everyone was paid on a particular date, which wasn’t true. Luckily another team came forward that day as well, Starlight Gaming. And they had a similar experience with Plynius. They posted everything. Soon we heard that 62 other employees from various organizations [associated with Plynius] had not been paid.
Message from @SLT_Gaming_ pic.twitter.com/PYYKvXngv7
— Starlight Gaming (@SLT_Gaming_) February 15, 2021
Did BearClaw have some type of agreement with Plynius? Was there any guarantee that you or the players would be paid?
No, we signed an MOU [a memorandum of understanding, typically a non-binding agreement of terms].
How did you feel when esports community believed that BearClaw was purposefully withholding money from its Valorant roster?
At first, before other people started coming out [in support of us], a lot of people believed we weren’t paying. But after things came to light and it was Plynius who broke their agreement I felt more at ease. It wasn’t me.
All the contracts were between us, the players, and Plynius, not BearClaw. I had zero control over accounting or finances at the time. A lot of the players and management are really good friends and we have all tried to clear up this mess, and many have stood up for me.
At the end of the day, even though I’m not responsible for paying them right now, I am still taking money out of my college funds to give the players a little bit so they can still survive. I’m doing it morally, not on behalf of Plynius. They were promised a living wage and they weren’t given it. I felt bad and wanted to help until they win a couple more matches.
What has happened since these issues with Plynius came to light?
Right now we are all banding together, a bunch of us that weren’t paid from different organizations. We are trying to recover and speak to investors and new people. We are thankfully getting a lot of support and have people willing to step in. So we will get a lot more teams and start competing like we originally wanted.
We are very grateful for all the offers. We are thankful for what’s happening. Adults are coming on board to support us. I have a strong executive team with experienced people. Now it’s not just me. Now it’s a full team.
What are the future plans for BearClaw Gaming?
We want to get back into Valorant. We’re doing PUBG, FIFA, Super Smash Bros. We would love to get into League of Legends and Overwatch. That’s pretty much it at the current moment. We might expand in the future, but we want to get into the main Riot games and a couple of Valve titles.
Why has it been important for you to contineu working on BearClaw Gaming and to be involved in esports, even after this happened?
From a very young age, I’ve played games. My parents would play game with me when they had time. My dad is in the military and loves Call of Duty. I still have this love of gaming and computers. I’ve taken on a lot of leadership roles and always been very business-oriented. I wanted to put those together and enter esports. It’s my dream. I always saw FaZe and knew it was what I wanted to do.
I didn’t see many women in the space and not a lot of diversity. I wanted to break the stereotypes, include women, and support the community. It will take time but we are recovering very well. We have a new Valorant and PUBG team in Brazil.
Is there anything else you want to say?
No matter what, we’re not giving up. We want to be further than any other organization. We want to be pioneers and trailblaze in the industry. We want to prove that dream. Dreams are going from zero to 100 and people are making these big organizations… I want to live out that dream and show people that it’s possible, and break down stereotypes.