Winstrike Team, the Russian org involved with CSGO, Dota, and Apex among other games, again came under fire online for failure to pay wages to former players. In this instance it was Aidyn “krizzen” Turlybekov making the allegations, claiming on Twitter that he was still awaiting payment of wages due in 2020.
Specifically, krizzen alleges he is missing salary from as far back as October 2020, as well as prize money earned during his time with the org. What is perhaps more damning are the replies, where another former employee alleges they faced the same treatment, this time as part of the Apex Legends team.
Petr "Desertuk" Myagkov, a Belarus-based Apex Legends player, replied to krizzen claiming that he has been waiting a year for his last payment from the org, and has exhausted all options for potentially ever seeing the money he is owed. There are other pros in the replies talking about unpaid wages, and this is far from the first time Winstrike has been accused of such behavior.
A 2019 report by Jarek “Dekay” Lewis alleged that Quantum Bellator Fire was withholding wages to their players at the time, with the report spread far and wide before any response was offered. When the QBF CEO finally did speak, however, it was to allege that his players had essentially offered to break their contracts and move elsewhere if they weren’t offered the salary increase they felt they deserved in the wake of their major run.
The team that ended up "rescuing" them was in fact Winstrike, who signed the lineup a few months later before going on to sell Boombl4 to Na’Vi for what was undoubtedly a significant profit. Unpaid wages and contract disputes are sadly a common theme in certain parts of the esports ecosystem, and CSGO is one of the more affected areas.
It was also only a month ago that former Winstrike coach Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov released a Twitlonger stating that he and his team had terminated their contracts with the org following ‘constant breaches of contractual obligations by the organization’. The player stated that he wished to make no further comment on the issue, wishing instead to ‘handle the situation professionally’.
While recent stories have focused on tiers 2 and below, it wasn’t long ago that one of the most legendary brands in esports was called out for shady practice. Ninjas in Pyjamas built their entire legacy on the back of the godlike CSGO lineup that dominated the beginning of the game’s lifespan, but it turned out those players felt the org had profited unfairly off their labor while withholding fair reward.
With more and more stories like this, some sort of protective entity for the players seems even more necessary, but CS:GO has long struggled to get one established. Game's developer Valve has largely stayed hands-off, while the CSPPA — the currently existing players' association — has not been successful in defending players in these situations.
We contacted the players involved for comment, as well as Winstrike Team, and will update the article should we hear back.