The Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), the parent company of Immortals, MIBR, and the Los Angeles Valiant, have taken legal action against Argentinian organization 9z. IGC claim that 9z have failed to pay the agreed transfer fee for CS:GO player Ignacio ‘meyern’ Meyer.
The North American company have filed a complaint to the Superior Court of California claiming a breach of contract from 9z over the $35,000 transfer fee agreed in June 2020, documents obtained by Dexerto show.
According to IGC’s claim, 9z have “never paid the buyout fee, nor any portion of the buyout fee” despite stating “numerous times that payment would be forthcoming”. The suit seeks unspecified damages that include, but are not limited to, the unpaid transfer fee.
Dexerto has obtained evidence showing that attempts to settle the matter out of court were to no avail, with 9z often taking weeks to provide updates on the efforts to settle the fee.
The case will be heard in a Los Angeles County court as permitted by the deal that was signed when the transfer agreement was reached. If the court sides with the IGC in this dispute, it is possible that the North American organization will take this matter to the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), which could apply sanctions to the Argentinian organization.
Calling out “bad actors”
Contacted by Dexerto, Tomi Kovanen, IGC’s chief operating officer, explained that the company’s intention in taking the matter to court isn’t so much about getting what they are owed as it is about rooting out bad behavior in the esports industry.
“Like other nascent industries, esports has an issue with bad actors abusing others for financial gain,” he said. “Teams sign players to punitive contracts, illegally withhold pay or refuse to honor agreements, and tournament organizers disappear without paying out prize money.
“Luckily, very few experience it directly, but everyone in the industry is impacted by the erosion of trust.
“We must collectively demand more. It’s possible to reduce these issues by collaborating between teams, ESIC, and the various tournament organizers, but it requires us to act collectively.
“Whether our legal action helps us collect, we hope it can serve as a catalyst for greater collaboration among the stakeholders in order to discourage bad actors in the industry.”
Mariela Silvi, public relations director for 9z, told Dexerto that the organization has attempted to pay the transfer fee to IGC.
According to her, the payment was made “on time and in the agreed manner”, which was the reason meyern was able to compete for 9z.
“What happened was that, at that precise moment, in June 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, the Central Bank of Argentina adopted new regulations that, among other restrictions, limited bank transfers in foreign currency and transfers in dollars for the payment of debts,” she explained.
“Given this situation, it was agreed that 9z should make the payment with certain characteristics, which for confidentiality reasons we cannot disclose.
“We have always fulfilled our commitments, and that has always been our wish. That is why we have been working to solve any incident that may arise in the best possible way.”
A rising star
Meyern was signed by the Immortals Gaming Club to their MIBR CS:GO team in December 2019 in a transfer from Portuguese organization Sharks Esports.
The Argentinian player was touted as a future star, but he struggled to show the sort of dominance he had displayed in his previous teams. He was moved to the bench after just six months, later admitting that he didn’t think he was the right fit for the squad.
On June 29 2020, 9z announced meyern as their newest player in a transfer from MIBR, labeling the player “the [Lionel] Messi of CS:GO”.
That comparison proved to be wide of the mark. Before the end of the year, meyern announced that he had been given permission by 9z to explore offers from other organizations. Since June, he has been on loan with Furious Gaming.
Claims of outstanding salaries
Over the past year, there have been multiple claims of unpaid salaries involving 9z. Brazilian League of Legends coach Philipe ‘Joe’ Mazetti Gonçalves claimed in October 2020 that he was owed four months’ salary and revealed that he had started legal proceedings against the organization in a São Paulo labor court. According to 9z, the court ruled in their favor.
In March 2021, José Manuel ‘Beto’ Franco Contreras, another League of Legends coach, and Fortnite duo Santiago ‘Sanku’ Busso and Leandro ‘Riquelmee’ Marconi all claimed that they were owed salaries and prize money.
9z took to social media to address this sequence of claims. In a statement, the organization stressed that they had not failed to fulfill any contractual obligations and denied having received any legal contact over the issue.
Comunicado oficial. pic.twitter.com/mqxxc7pz2E
— 9z Team (@9zTeam) March 4, 2021
Questioned about these accusations from former players and coaches, Silvi told Dexerto that 9z “always work to fulfill our obligations” and that, in these particular cases, the organization attempted to offer “an adequate resolution” to the issues that were raised.
She added that Beto did not show up to a court hearing after lodging a legal claim against 9z for a breach of contract.
“Beyond the reports in the media that have come out on certain occasions, we have only had one single legal case, which was ruled in our favor,” the 9z public relations director said.
“This demonstrates that our wish has always been, and will continue to be, to act professionally and with the best practices that the market allows us.”
Founded in 2018, 9z are one of the biggest esports organizations in Latin America, with active teams in several games, including CS:GO, League of Legends, Valorant, Rainbow Six, and PUBG.
¡FALTAN 2 DÍAS! 👀
En tan solo dos días se estrena SUEÑO VIOLETA, nuestro documental sobre la #BLASTPremier
— 9z Team (@9zTeam) September 27, 2021
Their CS:GO squad have qualified for the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown, where they will be aiming to go even further than in the Spring season, when they managed to shock French giants Vitality in a best-of-three series.