Ex-Longzhu Gaming players Ku “Expession” Bon-taek and Kim “Emperor” Jin-hyun say their former organization failed to pay their salaries on time.
In an exclusive set of interviews by Inven, translated by Inven Global, two anonymous sources from inside Longzhu as well as Expession and Emperor accused the organization of consistently late payments to the players and staff. Head coach Kang “Hirai” Dong-hoon also offered statements on the matter.
Expession’s contract expired in November, and he said he hasn’t received “tens of thousands of (US) dollars” in incentives owed to him. Hirai allegedly told him the payments would go through by December, but he told Inven he has yet to be paid the full amount — five months later. Expession also alleged that this was an issue for the whole team where payments would be months late, only being told by the organization to “wait a while.”
Emperor told Inven he never received any money at all while playing for Longzhu. He was under contract for the 2016 season and said the the payments did not go through until after his contract expired. He also said he is still owed money.
A member of the staff also told Inven payment for staff members was delayed and the players for this split were not paid until March, two months into the split, even saying that the team was “on the verge of collapse” in February.
Hirai reportedly confirmed the claims in a separate conversation and said the issue came from the recent replacement of Longzhu’s finance team in September. He even offered to pay the amount owed to Expession out of his own pocket, a gesture Expession reportedly declined as he was still in talks with the team to retrieve his dues.
The Korean e-Sports Association plans to take action regarding this issue. According to a report by Inven’s Kim Hong-jae, a source from KeSPA said even though KeSPA does take action to make sure contractual agreements are met, it is “realistically not easy to check if every player is individually being paid without issue.”
Since this report, KeSPA and Riot Games reportedly “ordered the sponsoring company to immediately correct this error” and are “working to prevent this from happening in the summer split.”
UPDATE: Longzhu Gaming released a statement through Facebook and offered an apology as well as further clarification to the original report by Inven. According to the statement, Longzhu paid Expession and Emperor in full before the article went public, and the delay was due to “changes within the organization” and the recent “reinforcement of China’s policies regarding foreign currency.”
Longzhu also specified that other payments yet to be distributed are about 10 percent of October’s pay from last year, which comes from the fees of transferring funds across country lines and was not properly paid by a new financial manager at the time.
On the topic of the rest of the missed payment during 2016, Longzhu promised to take care of them as soon as possible and requested evidence of missed payment from the players, but four players have yet to deliver the necessary information, which has delayed the process.
In a report by Daily eSports’ Lee Si-woo, an official from Longzhu said that there are no problems in the payment for the players that have signed in 2017 despite the delay in contract signings, something that they have “asked the understanding of Riot Korea, the Korean e-Sports Association, and the players themselves.”