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Unpaid Pro Paladins Player Goes Public With Hi-Rez Hate (Updated)

Paladins pro player Patrick 'sleeppyy' Ratzow publicly let loose on developer and publisher Hi-Rez Studios. Is the company holding out on paying its esports scene?

Esports, like its more physical counterparts, is not without its own controversies or drama. Payment of players has been a particular area of concern and interest among fans, players, and companies since the inception of professional gaming teams. It would appear that Hi-Rez Studios, maker of the competitive games Paladins and Smite, is the latest to come under fire amid accusations of financial mismanagement when it comes to its esports scene.

Patrick 'sleeppyy' Ratzow, former team captain for Mousesports’ Paladins team is bringing out some of those harsh accusations against Hi-Rez Studios. In a no-holds-barred Reddit post, he attacked Hi-Rez, viciously, explaining that he and several other players that attended Paladins tournaments never received their winnings from the event.

Hi-Rez is NOT paying their esports players. from Paladins

These attacks come as no surprise to some, but Ratzow is out for blood at this point. The 17-year-old Paladins player attended the Spring Masters LAN Gauntlet in Atlanta, GA, last April 2017, where his team at the time, Wolves eSports, finished in third place. The winnings amount to only $2000 USD (split among 5 people), but he claims this isn’t out of the norm for the company.

“The Gauntlet was a special way of qualifying with only the winner taking home a LAN spot,” Ratzow explained. “Everyone but the winner (was supposed to get) cash prizes.”

I caught up with Ratzow and asked him to detail things a little further.

“I got a Google Forms link emailed to me on April 24, 2017 that I had to fill to get my money,” he began. “Two days later, I got tax papers sent that I had to fill which I did. A couple months passed and I had heard nothing from Hi-Rez, emailing them several times with zero response. I ended up having to message a Hi-Rez employee outside his employment times on Discord to finally get an response. I hadn't filled one of the tax papers, which was totally my fault, so I accepted it and moved on, waiting for my money. More months passed and emails sent, zero response. I ended up having to post about all of this on Paladins' Subreddit (a few days ago as of this publication) to get a response from Hi-Rez, which happened within hours of my post as it rose to the top of the Subreddit.”

Ratzow hails from Denmark, explaining that tournaments are sometimes big to-dos if they are out of the country for him.

“It's utterly disgusting that a company as large as Hi-Rez Studios' has such big problems paying their players from tournaments. Some players take a day off work to prepare for big tournaments and expect to get their money paid by Hi-Rez.”

He continued to explain his distaste for Hi-Rez, going into a story about how communication isn’t their strongest suit.

“Back when my old team was transfering to the organization Mousesports, we literally got told by Hi-Rez that we had to send them pictures for player profiles 4 days before they were to be published.” Ratzow explained. “Mousesports wanted proper pictures, so they sent us to Poland to get photographed. We got told we had to fly to Poland the next day. Personally, I didn't mind that, but it certainly added stress as we had to cancel practice to pack and prepare for the trip.”

At the time of publishing, Ratzow, who plays under the alias sleeppyy (pronounced “Sleppy”), is currently with the team StraightOutOfCasuals at the time of this writing, but when the issues happened, he was the lead player for popular team, Mousesports. He left them around November 2017 due to schedule conflicts (and the fact that he’s under 18). He hopes to be signed on another major team very soon.

Source: http://www.mousesports.com
Ratzow was the team leder for Mousesports for a short period before moving on to StraightOutOfCasuals.

He explained how the leagues work from behind the scenes and how this is affected by money troubles.

“Hi-Rez pays World eSports Association (WESA) organizations to participate in the Paladins Premier League, (also known as the PPL),” he explained. “They pick up or form a roster and that roster then represents the organization, very akin to how the Overwatch League did it. A PPL player openly told me that Hi-Rez haven't paid the WESA organizations in 3 months, resulting in organizations having to pay their player salaries with their pocket money until Hi-Rez decides to finally pay. I've heard rumours of some organizations not being able to pay the salaries as they can't dedicate that money to their Paladins' section as of now. I am not allowed to disclose the minimum salary for PPL teams, but it’s certainly a decent full-time wage.”

Another tipster that wished to remain anonymous gave additional insight into the escapade.

“The most recent event (in November), which was the Worlds Qualifiers, was said to have a $50,000 prize pool but none of the Gauntlet teams got any of it. I was the only one that actually got money from that on my team. Each player in my current team is waiting over 1000 euros (About $1200 USD) each, at this current moment (from the Gauntlet). We’re waiting on money from before November now, but Brazil is even worse, waiting over a year in all scenes.”

The anonymous tipster’s accusations were unverified as of publication, but like Ratzow, he is also a prominent player within the Paladins community on a well-ranked team.

This isn’t the first time Hi-Rez Studios has been under fire for bad management. Hitting a 2.2 out of 5 on Glassdoor out of 60 reviews, Hi-Rez employee reviews hit the company as subpar at best and are written like marketing material at worst. Many of them state the managers and CEO are the problems in the company on a consistent basis. Those that did respond negatively mention that the good reviews they do have is due to Hi-Rez incentivizing high marks on Glassdoor from employees.

Heading back to the original post on the Paladins Subreddit (which has amassed 882 upvotes and 130 comments as of publication), multiple people have chimed in to state the lack of payment from Hi-Rez Studios for the Paladins Premier League, with numerous people stating that emails tend to be ignored quite often. The rumor among the Subreddit and players is that the person in charge of maintaining funds and dispersing them left the company at some point. This still doesn’t explain the long wait period of over a year in some cases. Twin Galaxies has reached out to Hi-Rez Studios multiple times, for comment on this article, to no avail as of yet.

We will keep you all updated as this story unfolds.

Update: Ozon3TV (1/3/18 4:30 PM PST)

In regards to the bravery of Ratzow's original move, multiple pro Paladins players are coming out and talking about money owed to them from Hi-Rez Studios. Team Toxicity player Ozon3TV spoke out about their time at the North American Paladins Global Series. Having played in Phase 3, 4, and 5, they racked up wins in each series, taking the crown and becoming known as the best North American amateur team.

"My team placed 4th during the PGS Phase 3 Finals, which the prize was $750. We won the entire tournament and took the prize pool of $2000. This (all) totaled to $4750 in prize winnings that we have not received. When my team member and captain contacted Hi-Rez, we have been either blatantly ignored or was told 'next week'. We, then, received contact in December after the lack of payments was brought out by Vapor's twitter post. We filled out the paperwork and were supposed to receive Tax forms which we still have failed to receive. Currently, we are waiting until after Hi-Rez Expo (which begins on January 4th, 2018) to pursue any further action towards Hi-Rez as we are assuming they are busy with the event and will not look into payment until after. We are hopeful that Hi-Rez will pay us as we are semi-professionals looking to make it in Paladins esports as players, streamers, and all around Professionals."

Update: (1/4/18 2:30 PM PST)

The beginnings of a resolution! Todd Harris, COO of Hi-Rez, has spoken up.

 

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