Members of the Denial Esports staff plan to leave the organization Friday amid growing frustration surrounding Denial’s alleged inability to pay players and staff.
Nicholas “Karma” Primas-Hailey, Denial’s head of media, already posted his goodbye to the organization via Twitlonger. It comes only nine days after announcing he inherited the position. Karma, general manager Thomas Hajduk and the organization’s Editor-In-Chief, John “Mireu” Ryu, have all left or plan to leave the organization.
According to Karma and multiple other sources close to the organization, Denial has allegedly failed to pay players for its H1Z1 and Counter-Strike teams in addition to not paying staff. The H1Z1 team member Pineaqples announced Friday the team’s departure from the organization. He alleges Denial owes the H1Z1 team $22,700 in outstanding salary and prize winnings.
“As a team, we discussed that our primary goal is to continue in the H1Z1 and PUBG professional scenes, but we need to be fairly compensated so that we can devote the time and effort required to play at a competitive level,” Pineaqples wrote.
Denial’s H1Z1 team participated in “Fight for the Crown,” a contest that aired on the CW TV network. Karma told Slingshot the winnings were sent to the organization directly and have still not been given to the players more than three months after the event took place.
Denial CEO Robby Ringnalda issued a statement Friday saying Denial had not breached the contracts with the H1Z1 players and that $10,000 of the money owed isn’t even due until Sept. 10. He also blamed banking problems for the players not receiving their money from the CW event.
“Addressing the (Fight for the Crown) payment, I told the team we have had transfer issues with the payout that our bank has completely dropped the ball on, and if it was not rectified this week we would be fronting the money until we are able to get those issues sorted,” Ringnalda wrote. “In order to prevent these issues from possibly occurring again, we agreed to have the payout from DreamHack Atlanta go directly to the players and, as apology for the issue, agreed to not take our 15 percent cut from those winnings.”
Denial also allegedly owes money to its Counter-Strike team. The amount was unclear, but one source close to the players estimated the range was between $40,000 and $60,000. According to sources, some of Denial’s CS:GO players are so far behind in receiving payments they’ve had to barrow money from friends to stay afloat.
According to one source, Denial’s Rocket League roster, which parted ways with the organization in July, was paid late on multiple occasions, as was Chris “Chris T” Tatarian, a former Denial Street Fighter V player. Karma gave a loose estimate that Denial owes almost $100,000 to players. The latest round of alleged payment problems seemingly began in May, when the organization was dropped by Razer, according to sources.
“I have decided to leave Denial as the head of media following the revelation of a considerable amount of money that is still owed by management to many of Denial’s teams, players, and staff,” Karma wrote. “This revelation is unfortunate as I have really enjoyed working with my colleagues at Denial but simply cannot continue under its current management. I appreciate all of the support from fans, staff, and players whom I have met during this adventure and look forward to the the future and what it might hold.”
Karma and another source said Denial CEO Robby Ringnalda did not pay staff members and instead offered previous general manager Alex Gonzalez equity in the company. When staff members asked about payment, Ringnalda would defer the conversation by making vague comments such as “big changes are coming soon.”
Denial has faced previous allegations of failing to pay players. In January, Super Smash Bros player James “Duck” Ma left the organization after failing to receive two months of salary. A day after ESPN published a story about Duck’s departure, he said Denial no longer owed him any money. In August 2015, Denial failed to pay $3,000 to its Halo team, according to a Dot Esports report. In December of that year, the organization allegedly failed to pay its League of Legends team for two months, which contributed to the team leaving the organization.
Ringnalda did not respond to a request for comment.