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Overwatch • Oct 17, 2018

Former Infinite Esports director accused of misconduct in Overwatch negotiations

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Former Infinite Esports director accused of misconduct in Overwatch negotiations
L: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment, R: Alicus

Former Infinite Esports & Entertainment director Ali ‘Alicus’ Saba has been accused of misconduct and unethical negotiating practices relating to the organization’s Overwatch Contenders teams.

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According to a report by VPEsports, Saba repeatedly mislead players during his time as Scouting Director for Infinite, the parent of various esports companies including OpTic Gaming, Houston Outlaws and GG Esports Academy.

It was recently reported by The Benchmob that GG Esports Academy, which in Season Two of Contenders NA acted as the academy team for the Houston Outlaws, would be removed from Contenders Trials for Season Three after failing to meet the roster submission deadline.

The Benchmob report also alleged the mishandling of negotiations with players from Last Night’s Leftovers. This latest report from VPEsports reveals that similar misconduct occurred back in early 2018 when Infinite was establishing its Contenders team for Season One.

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At that time, Saba reportedly contacted a group of players with an offer to play as the official Outlaws academy team. The situation grew more complicated, however, after the players discovered that through GGEA, Infinite intended to manage multiple teams in Contenders. This was also alleged at the time, with Over.gg reporting that GGEA could be running up to five Contenders slots.

After learning that the organization was also attempting to sign another squad, the players requested confirmation that the offer to play as the official Outlaws academy team – which would also require relocating and for at least one player deciding between pursuing Overwatch and enrolling in college – was firm.

Saba reportedly informed the players that the offer was stable, and repeatedly confirmed that their team would be connected to the Houston Overwatch League team via branding. He allegedly told the players that the other players being negotiated with would be placed on different Contenders teams for brands separate to OpTic and the Outlaws.

The players were then reportedly told they would be playing under the GGEA brand, rather than OpTic Gaming. After questioning whether this would affect their standing as Houston’s academy team, the players were told by Saba “I know players who are way more accomplished than all of you who would suck dick for this opportunity…I can show you my Discord.”

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According to the report, formal complaints were filed with Infinite over conduct of this sort from Saba, but no actions were taken by the organization at the time.

The players were eventually given multiple contracts over a period of days as the organization reshuffled which teams would play under which brands. The first reportedly listed the team as “Houston Outlaws Academy”, the second “GGEA Desperados or FaZe”, and finally the third as “Ace.”

Less than 24-hours before the roster deadline, however, Blizzard intervened to prevent Infinite from controlling multiple Contenders teams. Subsequently, the players reportedly had their contracts voided.

Though several of the players ultimately ended up signing with Simplicity in a deal facilitated by Saba and OpTic Gaming, two left the team to pursue alternative options and one quit competing altogether. One player told VPEsports that “the incident destroyed our team and likely ended the careers of most of our players.”

Saba was later moved to Director of International Development at Infinite Esports & Entertainment, and ultimately departed the organization on September 22, a move that was reportedly unrelated to these accusations.

When asked for comment, Saba told VPEsports: “GGEA is the org that was running this. I was assisting GGEA. My job was to do as I was told. They said they had things under control and they had deals with other [Overwatch League] teams and that it was cleared that GGEA can run a bunch of academies.”

The report comes at a turbulent time for Infinite, who recently replaced president Chris Chaney with Ryan ‘OpTicJ’ Musselman amid a series of staff lay-offs. Meanwhile, several high-profile figures have departed, including OpTic Gaming general manager Romain Bigeard and content creator Austin ‘Pamaj’ Pamajewon.

VPEsports’ full report on the accusations against Saba and Infinite can be read here.