With the infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into the industry, esports has come up from under the umbrella of being a niche, cult-like entertainment medium. Esports isn’t about $10,000 tournaments played in a basement or hotel ballroom anymore. In fact, everything has changed—just ask William “Meteos” Hartman, League of Legends player, now for Flyquest.
On Sunday, Meteos took to Twitter to announce that he had been traded to FlyQuest—a tweet since deleted.
Meteos’ tweets are the perfect example of a player living in the former esports landscape where the players were in control, could crowd-source a response, and potentially get out of a contract. Those days are over. The reality here is that in today’s esports world, the players have given up control for salaries and contractual perks—all very normal in traditional sports.
Meteos’s tweet provoked a response from his now former organization.
100Thieves in this response tells you everything you need to know as to why they moved Meteos; if you can read between the lines. In reality, though, 100Thieves didn’t need a reason to make the trade.
Indeed, the scene has shifted. Esports organizations are now owned by million or even billionaires in the attempt to leverage the entertainment value of the scene and turn that investment into a return. Orgs are paying millions of dollars to join marquee leagues and winning is more of a priority than ever.
Now, contracts with their complicated nature and cleverish language should be sending anyone asked to sign one to the nearest lawyer that understand professional sports.
Players are making a crucial mistake in the contractual process by signing boilerplate copies, thinking that the input the receive from their parents, friends, or even lawyers that do not have experience in contract law is knowledgeable.
Traditional sport contracts often include, through negotiation, provisions that include; a right to refuse a trade to certain teams (no-trade clause), a right to refuse reassignment to some minor-league teams, incentive clauses, and non-disparagement agreements.
Often, in esports, you do not hear of such provisions being included in current contracts.
The reality of the situation in Meteos’ case is that he truly has no control over this current situation. 100Thieves and FlyQuest are well within their rights to trade players between the two organizations and if they so choose, could “shelve” a player and sit them out, placing them on the Reserve Roster. 100Thieves went by the book.
Rule 3.3.2 from the League of Legends Championship Series Official Rule Book says that, “Team Managers are authorized to make changes to the Roster using one of the following methods: (1) Trading Players with other Teams; (2) Signing Free Agents; (3) Releasing Players from the Roster; (4) Moving Players between the Active, Substitute and Reserve Roster.”
We know this trade was approved as Rule 3.3.10 states, “All Roster modifications will be considered effective immediately upon approval by League Officials unless explicitly requested otherwise.”
Day after day, stories of players losing contractual control surface that make industry experts shake their heads in a collective disbelief. In today’s age, you can bet that esports organizations have some very smart business lawyers drafting up contracts for some unsuspecting players to sign. Every contract will have basic clauses that cannot be negotiated, however, player’s need to protect themselves by negotiating a fair and balanced contract that is a win for both parties.