Documents show Heroic created NDA to prevent squad speaking about alleged cheating
Dexerto has obtained documents confirming the existence of a non-disclosure agreement created by Heroic to effectively silence their players from speaking about the cheating allegations or use of the infamous coaching bug for fifteen years.
In addition to these documents were parts of a conversation that showed that the Chief Gaming Officer for Heroic, Erik Askered, believed that their coach, Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen, was “taking a bullet” for the team and that he would “be remembered” for his efforts in doing so.
These documents confirm some of the allegations made by Petersen at the end of August who went public with claims about his former employer and colleagues, stating that some of the players knew he used an in-game bug to get a competitive advantage and that the organisation tried to cover it up. Petersen had used the bug on two occasions, once versus Danish rivals Astralis at DreamHack Malmo, in a series that they lost, and the other time in Home Sweet Home #5 against Team Spirit in a tournament they would go on to win.
After the existence of the bug became public Petersen publicly confessed to his use of the bug and cooperated with the Esports Integrity Commission’s (ESIC) investigation fully. At that time he stated that he acted alone and that the players had no knowledge of what he did, a statement he has since recanted, releasing public evidence that he believes incriminates René “TeSeS” Madsen and Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen, the latter now playing for OG.
Whatever the truth of these allegations, these documents and snippets of conversation show for certain that Askered wasn’t confident that the players were not involved and that there was a rush to create documentation that would prevent players from discussing the matter without legal ramifications.
Heroic’s NDA to block players talking about cheating
The so-called “Additional Agreement” was backdated to August 31, 2020, the day after the Heroic coach Petersen was banned for twelve months. The agreement adds specific language that precluded the players and Petersen, who remained at the organisation despite his punishment, from addressing any allegations related to cheating under pain of having to pay anything up to a $500,000 fine. The Heroic NDA was also set to not expire until the year 2035.
The specific language added to the initial agreement was that the signatories could not speak about:
- any information regarding the cheating possibilities, using of any bugs, exploits etc (whether used or not);
- any information regarding the any [sic] teammates or colleagues bans and any information related to this situation
- any internal discussion around coaches bans for whatever reasons.
This was later emphasised under another clause that stated the group “shall not make any public or private statements, publications, comments, judgements, assessments (including but not limited to on TV, radio, any other on-line or off-line media or other resource, social media, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, broadcasts, streams, printed media any other means known or that could be developed in the future) regarding the recent coach bans for exploiting spectator bug or any information related to this situation.”
Following a meeting about the new additions to the agreement, all squad members refused to sign. Our source explains that this is because the players believed that they would not be able to defend themselves publicly should they be falsely accused.
Attached to the documents were also screenshots of messages exchanged between Askered and Petersen that are believed to have been forwarded to ESIC. They reveal that the organisation believed that their coach “took a bullet” for the team and that the new agreement was designed to ensure that the players couldn’t break rank on the original version told to ESIC. Another separate conversation also shows that the team attempted to find workarounds to continue having Petersen in a coaching role and that he would be with the team for any non-ESIC sanctioned competitions. This was later changed after some discussion.
However incriminating this might be for the organisation and Petersen there was no compelling evidence contained within the conversation that suggested any players had been aware of the use of the bug.
Our source also explained that the reason for the public friction between their former coach and the organisation comes down to, among other things, the fact that large amounts of prize money was held back and not paid out in the agreed-upon thirty-day time period. The explanation for this was presented as being administrative problems as the brand transferred ownership from the Serenades Group to Omaken Sports, an acquisition that took place in February this year.
The backlog without payment ran back to ten tournaments and an amount totaling an estimated $127,500. In addition to this, the organisation hadn’t paid out a share of the sticker money from the Regional Major Ranking event. The source isn’t aware if these matters have all been settled.
These revelations will come at an inconvenient time for Heroic who have gone to some effort to alter public perceptions about them following the damaging allegations from their former coach.
A source familiar with their business dealings told Dexerto that they are currently requesting to join the thirteen teams in the Louvre Agreement that would see them partnered with ESL and DreamHack. As part of this process, they asked for a personal hearing to explain everything that has come to light with “additional context.”