After Mixer folded into a merger with Facebook Gaming, their headline streamer Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins was left with no place to call home. Now, livestreaming giant Twitch is apparently competing alongside YouTube for Blevins’ signature.
Before his big-money-move to Mixer, Ninja was the number one most followed streamer on Twitch, with over 14 million. His channel is still intact, as is his follower count, but it’s not clear if he will ditch the platform once again.
The value of having Ninja on your platform can’t be understated (although it wasn’t enough alone to boost Mixer to a sustainable position). His fanbase are bound to follow him to whatever platform he lands on.
According to Stern, a deal should be reached with one of the platforms “by end of summer, per sources.”
Of course, Ninja already has a big presence on YouTube, thanks to his regular videos that he’s been posting for years. With 20 million subscribers, it’s actually his most-followed social media channel, ahead of Instagram (15m), Twitch (14m) and Twitter (6m).
However, while YouTube might be Ninja’s biggest platform, Twitch is still the home for video game livestreaming, even if YouTube Gaming has been making some big leaps forward in recent years.
One of Ninja’s frequent collaborators, Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop, made the switch to YouTube in 2019, not long after the Mixer moves. So far, it’s been a successful switch for him.
The question also remains over the future of Michael ‘shroud’ Grzesiek, who moved to Mixer a month after Ninja, and similarly is now free to explore his options on other platforms. He could opt to return to his 7.1 million followers on Twitch, or his 6.3 million YouTube subscribers.
Mark ‘Boq’ Wilson, an esports commentator, has spoken out against tournament organizer G-Loot due to alleged late payments.
Over July 3-5, G-Loot operated the Trovo Challenge — a $10,000 event for Riot Games’ new shooter Valorant — on behalf of the live streaming platform. For the North American arm of the competition, Boq was hired to cast alongside Leigh ‘Deman’ Smith, Alex ‘Vansilli’ Nguyen, and David ‘SIMO’ Rabinovitch.
Weeks after the event wrapped up, complaints were posted on Twitter regarding G-Loot’s tardiness in paying for the work fulfilled. Dexerto learned that the casters agreed on a Net 60 payment term, meaning they should be paid within 60 days of fulfilling their duties.
G-Loot don’t appear to be short of cash, having raised an investment what they describe as “one of the largest esports fundraisers globally” of $56m in October 2020. While this is indeed after the event, in which it’s possible they didn’t have a lot of money prior to securing the investment, they’re now looking to grow their player base and optimize their service. Players and casters are still allegedly going unpaid despite said agreements, however.
G-Loot were responsible for the competitive operations of the event.
Vansilli publicly revealed that he invoiced the tournament organizer on July 9 and was clearly disgruntled on October 1 when sharing that he was yet to be paid. They stated that he may have to wait until October 23 to receive payment, which is weeks after the agreed term.
Vansilli confirmed to Dexerto at the beginning of November that the payment had finally been sent, but that’s still not the case for Boq.
As of November 25, he has been waiting for 143 days to be paid. He spoke with Dexerto about his experience with G-Loot, the struggles of trying to get the money that’s owed to him, and the typical circumstances casters have to operate within to get hired for events.
The Payment Challenge
“My experience with G-Loot has almost been no experience,” Boq told Dexerto. “They’ve been quiet, unresponsive, and unwilling to work with us to get things resolved. Everything has been on their timetable, not ours. They were very sporadic with responses, an email would come once every 20 or so days and they’d point out an issue then we’d hear from them again 20 days later.
“It’s clear that they don’t really value talent; forcing us to jump through hoops and giving us crazy dates, far in advance, that related to funding rounds and giving us the run around in general. I am still actively pursuing payment. I’ve given them everything that I was told was needed and they said payment was going to be sent.”
One of the major problems across many esports titles, from the top tier of competition down to amateur events, is the loose use of contracts for broadcast talent. Agreements are made through platforms like Twitter and Discord, with talent being reluctant to request for arrangements to be made official for fear of seeming ‘difficult to work with’ and potentially losing out on future opportunities.
“Like many situations, I did not receive a contract,” he said. “It’s pretty common that I don’t get a contract for an event and if I do, I’m actually blown away by the preparedness of the talent manager. I’ve signed contracts after an event has concluded and had to wait on contracts to send invoices before. It’s definitely common that I don’t get a contract, it’s all verbal or a Twitter DM. Once the flight is booked for a LAN event at least there’s a guarantee, but online there are no guarantees.”
Reminder that its been 141 days since @trovolive Challenge ended and @GlobalLoot still hasn't paid me for casting.
There’s an emerging topic among freelancers in esports regarding the application of late fees to invoices, theoretically deterring tournament organizers from either paying late or not at all by charging them extra for any delay. As of now, there are often no repercussions for such actions and that again is due to the leverage these companies possess according to Boq.
“It’s hard for talent to enforce late fees because the concern is that they just won’t use you again in the future, they’ll be frustrated because you’ve enforced a rule,” he said. “We don’t have as much leverage or power as them. There are a million casters out there who all want to work and get these gigs so it doesn’t matter how large your brand is, ultimately you can easily damage your name beyond repair. The smaller your name is, the easier that is to do.
“Tournament organizers have this tremendous power over some of the smaller names in broadcasting because they don’t have the leverage to get the payment that they’re due. This happens constantly when you look at Tier 2 or 3 scenes and in collegiate and high school when tournament organizers pay late, or at all, and the only option that these people have is to go public.
On why he has chosen to speak out against G-Loot, and why a better system with increased accountability for all parties needs to be put in place, the caster explained that this is more than wanting money — it makes esports a worse place and damages the industry as a whole.
Boq is best known for casting shooters such as Counter-Strike and, more recently, Valorant.
“It destroys the ecosystem that’s in place,” said Boq. “It’s important that we don’t allow tournament organizers that practice those behaviors to continue to survive because the ones that don’t are competing against them and sometimes losing. I hate to see companies that raise millions of dollars because I know they can crush a lot of the competition, some who actually do pay their talent but perhaps don’t have the same budget so they can’t increase their exposure with better hires.”
While other broadcast talent may now have been paid for their work on the event, that is not the case for Boq. Who knows if there are others out there across titles and tournament organizers that don’t feel as if they can speak up and still get hired going forward?