Envy CSGO player reveals issue-riddled benching situation - Dexerto
CS:GO

Envy CSGO player reveals issue-riddled benching situation

Published: 15/Jan/2020 22:51

by Scott Robertson

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Following the decision from Team Envy to replace CS:GO roster member Jacob ‘FugLy’ Medina, the now inactive player took to Twitter to express his grievances with how the situation was allegedly improperly handled.

Benching can be a messy, drama-ridden process in the world of esports: just look at how both Aleksi ‘Aleksib’ Virolainen and Nathan ‘NBK-’ Schmitt closed out their chapters at their respective teams before joining forces on the new OG roster.

But in the curious case of Team Envy, the situation appears to have gotten downright ugly for FugLy, who finds himself sitting on the bench going forward as a “restricted free agent.”

A veteran of the North American Counter-Strike scene, the twenty-five-year-old rifler has not restricted himself to remain quiet while on the bench, and in a TwitLonger post aptly titled “Benched,” he explicitly states that while he doesn’t care that he was moved off the starting roster, he does take issue with how it was done.

According to Medina, the members of the Envy roster had decided to tell management they wanted to move on without in-game leader Noah ‘Nifty’ Francis in August.

Nifty allegedly found out about the group chat where the players were discussing this, leading to the removal of Aran ‘Sonic’ Groesbeek afterward, who would go back to ATK before that roster was picked up by Cloud9. Sonic provided an immediate reaction to FugLy’s story.

Following that, Envy management began allegedly hinting to FugLy that he would have to move with the rest of the team to Dallas at the beginning of 2020. According to him, an important reason he chose to sign with Envy was that he was told he would not have to move.

Fast forward to December, and Envy reportedly told FugLy he would officially have to move to Dallas or be kicked from the team. He told them that he was allegedly fine with that, but would need some financial help with moving due to the mortgage and bills he still owed in Arizona. He says the organization told him that he would hear back from them.

Throughout the month of December, he alleges that he was repeatedly put off regarding the moving stipend, and on top of that, claims his discussions with Nifty regarding the future of the team’s roster were repeatedly ignored.

EnVyUs win DreamHack Open Cluj⁠-⁠Napoca 2015
DreamHack
Envy have struggled to replicate the success of their French rosters since moving to NA.

This led to a series of roster changes that occurred without FugLy’s knowledge, which included one of his teammates in Bradley ‘ANDROID’ Fodor being benched, which was officially announced on New Year’s Day. Finally, after several instances of asking for an update on the moving process, he was reportedly told he was benched.

All in all, Jacob says he was “jebaited for over a month, lied to, [and] left on the backburner,” and that Envy “was not a team but one person making every decision for himself and no one else mattered, which the org is OK with.”

Numerous members of the CS:GO community replied to his story, wishing the NA veteran well in the future and commenting on the situation with Envy.

FugLy said that none of the issues with Envy stemmed from its owner, Mike ‘hastr0’ Rufail. We will update the story if and when statements from Nifty and/or Team Envy are made available. Envy announced during the roster move that additional roster changes are inbound.


Here is FugLy’s full Twitter post, as written on January 15:

As you are all aware now, I am being moved to the bench of Team Envy. It only came to my attention on the 14th of Jan. I just want to share this story to show what I was dealing with for over a month, whether it was intentional or last minute changes that couldn’t be seen which led to this, I was still ignored and kept in the dark for ALL of the off-season which is my issue. Don’t care in the slightest that I was moved to the bench, I just care how it happened. So just know all this was happening during the most important time for a lot of players.

Also, when I say I am talking to Team Envy, I mean the GM, not hastr0.

August:
I’ll start off with the whole Sonic situation that led to him being cut in late August. We were struggling a ton in practice/officials and it was obvious we just weren’t getting better. People started to get frustrated in the team including myself. I was already thinking that our foundation, everything we built just isn’t right and we need a change. We felt the best approach would be to get rid of Nifty (IGL – was not awping at the time, Sonic was). I will not say who approached who but eventually after 2-3 days of talking, we decide to make a WhatsApp group with everyone besides Nifty (Group chat was made at night). Everyone but one person felt it was a good idea, which is why the group was made. We needed everyone to feel this was the right move to make so that we can go to Envy and let them know. The next day after the WhatsApp group chat was made, somehow Nifty found out about it and immediately cut Sonic. No hesitation, no talking to anyone about it, just went to practice and heard he was cut and now we need to look for another player (everyone else was just as surprised). There was no discussion about it, that was final. I know that if we ever did go to Envy about this, it would not have ended well for anyone but Nifty.

Little backstory: A big reason why I chose Team Envy over the two other offers I had back in March was because I was straight up told by Envy that I did not need to move. I have a place in AZ and told them up front. They were cool with it and I had no issues at all.

Now, Sept 4th. comes along and they slowly start hinting that I might need to move come January-Febuary 2020 as the new Facility was being built and they wanted all teams over in Dallas. I told them I will have to think about it and that if they can help me past the minimal stipend amount. No answer or response about moving until December. From Sept to December, I didn’t think much about moving, was being reassured by players on the team that no way I need to move to Dallas. I already pay a mortgage and utilities over in AZ. Moving to Dallas would mean I pay Rent + utilities on top of what I pay in AZ. This is why I was hesitant at the start and was really waiting to hear back from Envy.

Now December 9th comes along, we are on break now. I get another call about moving and now its official. I either move to Dallas or I be kicked off the team. I told them that I am willing to move, I would just need a bit of help (which a certain amount was already a guarantee). All is good, I was told I would hear back from them soon! Now, I get a call from Nifty (Dec. 11th) asking what my plans were and what my ideas were for the team. We talked about ryannn who I felt we should keep. We talked about ANDROID, who I LOVE, but we were on the fence about. I said, OK talk to ryannn and see what he thinks as you know…he is a part of the team after all. Then we can hop in TS or a call together and discuss.

This is around the same time that Eley/Tailored were cut from the Coach and CS Manager positions. Again, had no idea about this beforehand.

December 20th, I get another call from Nifty. No news about ANDROID yet, ryannn has not been contacted from Nifty. We just talk about me moving and that if I am ready/not ready to commit to Dallas. I just said I was waiting to hear back from Envy. I messaged Envy the same day asking for an update and was told I will hop in a call with them over the weekend. December 23rd comes along (not the weekend btw, Monday) and I get a message from ANDROID that he has been cut. Weird…I message ryannn and ask if he knew about this because I told Nifty to talk to ryannn first. Nope. He just found about it as he got cut. I get a call the same day from Envy. They say “It’s the holidays now, we won’t know about your stipend until early next year”. Ok…January comes along, I message Nifty on the 3rd of January about potential players which he responds and agrees that “that” player might be a good option. Even names another potential pickup we get get.

Now to the 8th of January, I ask for another update from Envy which they replied that they are working on getting the team sorted out this weekend and to hang tight. I think at this point, it is just a bunch of bullshit so I message Nifty saying that I am committed to going 100% now. Lets just get this going. I ask if the plan is still the same, me/Nifty/ryannn +2. And he ASSURES me that everything is still going to plan and there’s nothing to worry about. We then start discussing options and talk about how EU is the way to go here. Now, I am thinking Envy are just busy with new Facility and that I wasn’t at the top of their priority list. After all, Nifty did confirm everything is going nicely and that the plan was still the same.

On the 9th of January, I get a message from a number I did not recognize asking “When are you looking to move?”. I message the number back but no reply. I message Nifty asking who this is, obviously he would know as he was the only one I told that I am 100% ready to move now. No reply for 5 days. I wait for the weekend to get an update from Envy. Weekend passes and nothing. Then on the 13th I see an artcle about Calyx joining Envy and ask ryannn if he knew about it. Which he did, and he also thought that I knew about it. That’s when I messaged Envy again and asked for a real update this time. That is when I got the call saying that I have been moved to the Bench. And also ryannn, who is still part of the starting roster, had no idea about me being cut nor about ANDROID getting cut.

So all in all, I was jebaited for over a month, lied to, left on the backburner and after all that, it ends like this. Sucks but it is what it is, I felt I was still very naive even after the whole Sonic situation where everyone on the team knew it was fucked and it was not a team but one person making every decision for himself and no one else mattered, which the org is OK with. They want him running the show as Nifty and Envy are very close. (CoD org)

Update from 1/15: It was brought to my attention that I was a part of the team up until the 13th when new options came to light. Yet, I had no clue about any player releases and player signings before 1/13…and I was being ignored since the 9th.

CS:GO

BLAST’s director of operations on maintaining integrity with online CSGO

Published: 24/Nov/2020 15:23 Updated: 24/Nov/2020 15:33

by Adam Fitch

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“This time last year our rulebook and our whole setup were based on LAN events,” BLAST’s director of operations and production Andrew Haworth told Dexerto. “We hadn’t really done a huge amount of work on how that would be replicated in an online world.”

Earlier this year, with the global health situation emerging, governments all around the world were forced to reduce the feasibility of hosting events, and thus, they were moved online — halfway through a tournament, in some cases.

Prior to the restrictions, tournament organizer BLAST managed to host their first big competition of the year in February, impressing many and unknowingly hosting what would be one of the only prominent offline events in the 2020 Counter-Strike calendar. They didn’t have the same privilege later in the year, however, as limitations had yet to be permanently relaxed in many locations. Nonetheless, they went on with their plans to host the BLAST Premier Fall Series, albeit online.

Another layer of absurdity was added as a factor of hosting an event, and that was the revelation of a spectating bug that spanned multiple years. With the Esports Integrity Commission — a body devised to maintain the integrity of competitive gaming — issuing bans to dozens of coaches, integrity questions were more prominent than ever during an online era, no less, where it’s harder to monitor the activity of teams and their coaches.

BLAST Premier Fall Series 1
BLAST
Commentators Scrawny and launders arrived at the production location early to accommodate local restrictions.

Haworth’s background working on major music festivals and the Olympics Games means he’s no stranger to crafting contingency plans to put in place in case of a problem arising. Prior to hosting the Fall Series, they went through sessions of scenario testing with key department leads to devise numerous methods of still getting the job done.

Considering BLAST have deployed everything at their disposal to maintain competitive integrity within their events, Dexerto spoke with Haworth to see how they adapted their processes to move to a remote production while monitoring the gameplay itself both in and out of the server.

Going back to esports’ roots

“We were fairly lucky in the timing of the outbreak, we just finished our Spring Series in February and didn’t have another live event till the end of May,” he said. “Other tournament organizers didn’t and were thrown into that halfway through a show. We had a bit of time, purely by luck, to have a look at what we need to do for our Spring Showdown and our Spring Final.”

While esports, like most other sports, is fundamentally an entertainment product, the need for competitive integrity is essential. Fans tune in to watch the best players in the world face off against each other, and that’s no different during an era of online competition.

“If the fans don’t have faith in what we’re putting on if our broadcasters and sponsors don’t have faith in what we’re putting on, and the teams ultimately lose faith in it, then none of us can stand behind it proudly,” Haworth said. “So competitive integrity is in integral to what we do, none of us are arrogant enough to think that we’re perfect in that.

“There may be things that we’re doing now that we’ll review and determine haven’t worked quite as well or are not effective. Some of the things that we have done we want to ensure, while maintaining competitive integrity at all times, doesn’t affect the performance of play. We don’t want to be taking up computer performance for the matches because that isn’t going to gain the right tone with anybody.”

BLAST Premier Fall Series 2
BLAST
The venue had no players in sight, with only production staff and broadcast talent being present.

With a change in circumstance comes a need to change the parameters in which events are run, and that filters all the way down to the gameplay itself. BLAST saw the need to adapt their guidelines early in the year, when LAN events no longer seemed possible, so all of the teams were on the same page.

“The rulebook gets issued at the start of every season, we generally review it and update it after every event,” Haworth said. “We did less of that last year — I think we only made one or two slight revisions from Spring Series into Spring Showdown because the former was very much for a LAN. We also have our competitive integrity policy, which is broadly drawn out of the rulebook and is a short, sharp summary to articulate to what we do. That’s on our website. We’ve worked with experienced tournament officials that have worked with other tournament organizers and in other settings, it’s important to us that they can see elsewhere what has worked, and equally what hasn’t worked, so we can pick up best practices.”

From bad to worse

All partners of ESIC — including the likes of ESL and DreamHack — vow to enforce rulings decided upon by the commission, and that was no different for BLAST. The spectating exploit utilized by at least 37 coaches rocked the CS:GO community and certainly begged the question as to what tournament organizers are doing to ensure fair play is had at all times.

Moving online adds another layer of difficulty to constantly and accurately monitoring the matches played, especially considering tournament officials can’t be present to see how teams are operating with their own two eyes. BLAST believes they’ve reached the pinnacle of monitoring at this precise moment.

“Some of the measures we put in place aren’t perfect but they’re the best available solution we’ve found so far,” Haworth told Dexerto. “There are methods that we’re developing and evolving. We are confident that the measures we have in place currently are giving the desired result in not allowing anybody to manipulate the system or take advantage of it.

“From a coaching bug point of view, the player cams that we’ve put in place have been a really useful feature. That’s something that we looked at, to start with, as a broadcast feature that had some great context and depth. It grew into something that we now utilize to ensure we can see what players are doing.

“We’ve worked with players on camera angles, we have down-the-line shots, coaches have cameras on them and we listen to TeamSpeak for both a broadcast feature and in terms of integrity,” he continued. “The MOss system is far from perfect but it allows us to know what’s open on someone’s computer, there’s a report sent to us post-match with that information.

Moving forward in the face of adversity

Despite having what they believe is a solid solution to both playing online and safeguarding the integrity of the tournament, it would be understandable if a tournament organizer decided to postpone an event due to the recent exploit revelation and subsequent disciplinary rulings. Haworth ensured Dexerto, however, that that wasn’t an eventuality BLAST considered.

BLAST Spike Nations
BLAST
BLAST have undergone plenty of growth in 2020 so far despite the difficulties, expanding into new titles like Valorant and Dota 2.

“We’ve never really moved our date around. We put our 21 days in the international calendar [that’s shared by all CS:GO tournament organizers] in April this year to try and provide full transparency,” he said. “We worked on this straight after the Spring Final, there were a couple of bits that we thought we could include like the coach cams but there were also a couple of things that weren’t ready for the Fall Series. We played around with them but wasn’t sure if it would cause performance issues on players’ PCs so we didn’t want to risk it.”

There’s not the only difficulty in providing a fair and stable environment for the players, BLAST have plenty of staff that are needed to execute a full production. Having staff at home using personal internet lines isn’t the most confidence-inducing prospect, but the company has managed to execute a means of working that allows for maximum efficiency given the circumstances.

While online play, and the copious amount of events that are taking place, may not be ideal, esports has proven to be resilient in the face of extreme and unpredictable challenge. The Fall Series was revered by industry professionals and Counter-Strike fans alike, but it’s clear that BLAST are not resting on their laurels leading up to the next phase of the competition.