SK Gaming accused of not paying developmental players, coaches

Steven Rondina • August 16, 01:48

One of esports’ oldest organizations is facing allegations of misdeeds from some of its former players. 

A team manager from SK Gaming Academy with the handle “Vivi” is accusing the SK Gaming organization of stringing players along with promises of contracts that were never realized. Alongside this were additional allegations from a former player at SK Gaming Academy directed at a former coach for the team. Vivi stated that attempts to actually finalize the specifics of the contract were continuously delayed.

“Right from the start, contracts were promised to each player. Players even received a sample contract back in August 2020, but actually contracting them got delayed month by month. One time, SK didn’t know about the budget. The other time responsible SK authorities weren’t available for talks, the lawyer had some concerns…The excuses ended in March 2021 after the players already played two splits waiting, still hoping to receive promised contracts and salary,” Vivi said in a post on Twitter.

According to Vivi, SK Gaming Academy was a group of three League of Legends teams under the SK Gaming umbrella, working as a developmental network behind national league team SK Gaming Prime. The top-performing SK Gaming Academy team was invited to be part of a boot camp at SK Gaming headquarters in Berlin, Germany, while the other two were never given any form of support from the organization either financially or developmentally.

Vivi criticized SK Gaming for the lack of support for the players’ well-being. Alongside this, a former SK Gaming Academy player accused a former coach with the team of sexually assaulting him. It is unclear if SK Gaming was made aware of that situation at that time or later. SK Gaming has not publicly discussed the matter at time of publication.

SK Gaming controversy unfortunately common in esports

The story of an organization stringing along players and staff with promises that ultimately go unfulfilled is an unfortunately common controversy. Dozens of organizations have been accused of this sort of ill practice over the years, with one of the most notable recent examples being a firestorm surrounding Ninjas in Pyjamas over its handling of numerous teams and individual talents. Pro players, organizational staff, and even content creators all accused the organization of misdeeds.

LCS Players Association executive director Phillip Aram discussed the controversy, noting that this is a common problem in the industry. Thus far, neither Riot Games nor league officials at the LEC have addressed the allegations.

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