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Hi-Rez Todd Harris Speaks Up On Pro Paladins Pandemonium (Updated)

The unpaid pro players of Paladins spoke up and, in an amazingly quick turn of events, Hi-Rez Studios listened.

Only one day since news broke on the Paladins Players League not paying all of its pro players, we already have an update. In what is probably one of the quickest follow up responses we’ve ever seen, Hi-Rez Studios’ own COO, Todd Harris has reached out to our original subject, Patrick “sleeppyy” Ratzow and issued a statement in the form of a short interview on Reddit detailing the situation and how they plan to solve it.

As mentioned in our breaking story yesterday, Ratzow submitted a scathing exposé via Reddit on December 31st, 2017. In his lengthy explanation, he accused Hi-Rez Studios, makers of the games Paladins and SMITE, of not paying their pro players. He utilized multiple people and the comments rushed in, giving their insights and stories of not being paid as well. In not only the Paladins Players League, but in semi-pro and amatuer tournaments, competitors started talking. Once he stood up, others followed suit.

Today was the first day of the Hi-Rez Expo (HRX), hosted in Atlanta, GA, which focuses on everything Hi-Rez Studios does. Hi-Rez announced a new Battle Royale mode in Paladins akin to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, aptly named “Battlegrounds”. They announced news about two mobile games, Bot Smashers and Paladins Strike. They announced new characters and mounts from already established games and even confirmed upcoming presence on the Nintendo Switch platform. But, they started their day dealing with the backlash from yesterday’s article.

Todd Harris, COO and co-founder of Hi-Rez Studios, reached out to Ratzow on Twitter. Just two hours after his keynote at HRX, he sent a direct message. At the conclusion of the conversation, Ratzow copied the the conversation and gave them to Twin Galaxies to show proof and gave permission to share it in an article.

We will present them, unaltered, as they were handed to us in screen capture and a transcribed version below as well.

Source: Patrick “Sleeppyy” Ratzow
Source: Patrick “Sleeppyy” Ratzow
Source: Patrick “Sleeppyy” Ratzow

Harris: Hey. Are your payment issues sorted out yet?

Ratzow: Cooper told me they are taking care of it at the start of this year, I presume after HRX is over.

Harris: Sorry to hear about that delay. Unexeptable

Harris: Regarding PPL fall however I would be very shocked if players haven’t been paid because that money was wired long ago

Harris: The payment flow for PPL is hirez>Wesa>team orgs>players

Harris: So if players are not getting their $$$ we need to dig in and see why

Ratzow: A PPL player from NA told me hadn’t been paid so I assumed it's either WESA/his org that hadn't paid yet then

Ratzow: There's been rumours about PPL org(s) not paying in NA for weeks now

Harris: Got it.   That would be bad

Harris: I’ll probably just put my email out there later today for players to contact me if

they haven’t been paid.  We need to get this fixed ASAP

Harris: If you aren’t taken care of post HRX hit me up.

Ratzow: Sure, does the email part count for PGS players too? Or only PPL?

Harris: I’ll put it out there for everyone.  PGS is even more challenging because beyond the “standard” paperwork some non-US regions are major pains in terms of getting money to players

Harris: But either way I want to understand who is owed and get it taken care of

Ratzow: I know several players that don't know precisely what tournaments they are owed money from because it's been over a year in some cases, these would count too right?

Harris: Of course

But, wait! That's not all!

Afterwards, Harris took to the Paladins Subreddit. Moderator DrYoshiyahu “interviewed” Howard from the HRX floor and posted the official statement as an “exclusive”. The entire post came off as a measure of a company saving face and is completely (obviously) staged, but it at least shows headway for the future of their pro players. He has offered an olive branch and a call to action for those players that have not yet been paid, explaining that the issue is all in tax paperwork. He noted that the issue may be in paperwork at the World eSports Association (WESA) or even the individual organizations, but the money is “consistently being wired”.

“We're legally required to collect tax information from our players before we can issue payment,” he explained. “Sometimes, if those players are minors, it then requires signatures from a guardian. Sometimes, outside of the US, there's a whole additional level of paperwork that's required. So, in general, what tends to delay payment is related to that.”

Todd Harris on Esports payments - an exclusive interview from Paladins

Additionally, the interview corroborates Ratzow’s direct messages and references them. In a show of faith, Harris not only reached out to a player directly, but did it during his own expo and two hours after his own personal keynote.

While the problem won’t be solved overnight, Ratzow, known as “sleeppyy” in the pro Paladins arenas, spoke up to Twin Galaxies on his thoughts and hopes after having Harris reach out to him.

“It's really nice of someone that high up at Hi-Rez to communicate with the players about it. He clearly showed concern. I believe Todd will follow up on his word and make sure that everyone gets their money, as he dedicated the time talking to me to make sure everything was getting handled. It was very warming that he said he would make it right for everyone.”

“I am a bit concerned,” he continued, “about the fact that a certain org hadn't paid their players. I've later found out that most players had received salary, but at least one org hadn't. In an association such as WESA, it would be absolutely unacceptable to have an organisation that doesn't pay their players.”

As of publication, Twin Galaxies has reached out to Hi-Rez Studios multiple times, for comment on this or any article, to no avail as of yet. We will keep an eye on this story as it progresses and keep you updated. Stay tuned!

Update (1/5/18 9:00 AM PST)

Ratzow has contacted us again to say that he has been paid officially. He was incredibly thankful. Although it was a small amount, $400, he is glad to see some respolution to the problem. One of his friends in the Brazilian scene has also been paid as of today, but the amount was not disclosed. As explained in the original article, the Brazilian players had been waiting upto a full year for payment. 

The anonymous tipster has not yet been paid, so we're not completely out of the woods just yet. As Hi-Rez is currently dealing with their own Hi-Rez Expo in Atlanta, GA, we expect to hear more positive stories in the coming weeks. As with everything, we will keep you all updated as we learn more.

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