Sector One, a Belgian esports organization that closed shop on January 17, owes over €9,000 in outstanding salary payments and about €3,000 in tournament winnings to its former Valorant and League of Legends squads, according to multiple sources that spoke to Dexerto.
The Belgian esports organization ceased operations on January 17 because of the current economic climate, where “where ROI and financial inflow is insufficient”, according to a statement posted to Twitter.“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the indefinite halt of our esports activities, both on regional and international levels,” the statement said.
Sector One started as a local League of Legends team in 2014 and grew to become a household name in Belgian esports as it expanded into other titles, like Rocket League, FIFA and CS:GO.
Dexerto spoke with former players and staff members on Sector One’s Valorant and League of Legends teams who said they are still owed prize money and tournament winnings. In total, the outstanding fees could amount to €12,000, approximately $13,000.
In June 2022, Sector One revamped its League of Legends division and signed a whole new lineup and a new head coach. At least two of the players were offered year-long contracts even though the Summer Split of the Elite Series – the highest tier in the Benelux region – lasted about a month.
In August, after a fifth-placed finish in the league, Sector One terminated the team’s contracts.
Sources close to the team said that a number of players experienced delays in their payment, with some still owed their final two salaries, about €3,000 in total.
Two sources claimed players were also paid less than agreed upon.
When the players asked for an explanation for the late payments, Sector One claimed Riot Games was investigating the team for potential match-fixing in the Elite Series and told the organization to freeze all payments, according to multiple sources. The CEO of Sector One, Damien Rapoye, confirmed this when contacted by Dexerto and said only two players had been cleared in the investigation.
Riot Games has not responded to a request for comment on the matter.
Rapoye further said the repeated late payments to the League of Legends team are an industry-wide problem, pointing to late payments from tournament organizers as an example of the issue. When asked about players being paid less than what was agreed upon, Rapoye said he couldn’t comment on the allegations without knowing the specific player contract.
“We don’t owe anything to any League of Legends players anymore,” Rapoye said. “I know that some players have claimed that they wanted to be paid more than what was agreed upon. But it is not because a player says so that we need to pay more.”
Troubles in Valorant
In 2022, Sector One also had a team competing in the French VRL League, organized by Freaks 4U Gaming. Sources close to the team and the organization said that some players are still owed salary and prize money from their time competing under Sector One. One source also said a player is owed a termination payment after his contract ended.
When asked about the outstanding tournament winnings, the Sector One CEO said two of the three players that left the organization after Split 1 of the league were not given prize money. (The third player received his share of the prize money as the payment of this fee was included in his termination agreement.) He claimed these players had a month-long window after leaving to claim the prize money from the organization and only inquired about the payment several months later.
“It is not my task to hold their hands,” Rapoye said. “You could say in theory it’s owed to them, but on a legal basis it’s not owed to them anymore because they had their expiry date. I think it was even three months after the date on the termination agreement was done that they only started to ask their agent to contact us in terms of the prize money.”
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The outstanding tournament winnings amount to €3,000, according to multiple sources.
Sector One were let into the French Challengers League for 2023 and had their former academy team set to compete in the league. The academy team is also owed tournament winnings and reimbursements for travel and expenses while under the Sector One banner, one source told Dexerto. According to Rapoye, the league spot is in the hands of the players now and the team was never signed to the organization.
When asked about the outstanding salary payments to the Valorant team, Rapoye claimed that because of the amount the org was paying in salary to the players, they were advised to register the players’ deals as sports contracts. He claimed government red tape and bureaucracy caused significant delays in registering the contracts in Belgium.
“I could say we are to blame for that, because we need to do the research. But then again, it was new to us, we didn’t know that that would take that much amount of time,” Rapoye said.
He further claimed that some payments to players have been blocked by the Belgian government, specifically the Social Security office, because they were “uncertain if everything that was set up was done correctly.”
Rapoye said the organization’s accounts were frozen at the end of 2022 because of this, so the academy team couldn’t get their prize money or reimbursements.
The former Valorant team is owed over €6,000, according to multiple sources.
Dexerto contacted an agent representing a former Sector One Valorant player about Rapoye’s explanations for the late payments. The agent said that these were some of the many excuses he heard from the org as to why his client had not been paid.
“Their first excuse for the delays was that since their biggest sponsor only sponsored their LoL division (the sponsor didn’t like promoting in shooters) and they lied to this sponsor in order to pay Valorant players out of that budget, the sponsor got pissed off at them and they had to stop. After that it was because the crypto sponsor pulled out, then they blamed their payment operator (while claiming multiple times that they already scheduled the payment), then some other bulls**t. The government excuse did come up at some point, but we consider it just another, very convenient, excuse,” the agent said.
Sector One cease operations in January 2023
Rapoye told Dexerto that Sector One is liquidating its assets, including gaming gear and its office in Brussels, which should generate about €100,000.
The Sector One CEO blamed some of the organization’s financial issues on a failed cryptocurrency sponsor agreement that would have helped fund their Valorant operations. The sponsorship deal fell through as the crypto market started to collapse in June.
Former players and staff can file a claim after the liquidation to the entity that will oversee the process to receive the money they are owed, according to Rapoye. The teams formerly under Sector One in League of Legends and Valorant have retained their spots in the Elite Series and Challengers France under new names, Benelux United and BLX UTD respectively.
“In the end, I really hope no one will trust these people with any business again and esports will be better off without them,” one source said about Sector One shutting down.