Early Thursday morning, Jean-Louis "KnOxXx" Boyer announced via Twitlonger his retirement from professional gaming. Previously a member of the all-French organization Eagle Gaming, KnOxXx used his retirement post as an opportunity to publicize his and his teammates’ experiences with the now-defunct organization, saying that it had not been paying its players for three or four months prior to its liquidation.
According to KnOxXX, he first signed a short-term contract with Eagle Gaming in mid-November of 2017. "It was stipulated that as soon as I returned to France, I had to sign my employment contract to ratify my commitment," he wrote, adding that he never received said employment contract despite frequent request.
KnOxXx says he later learned that Eagle Gaming had never been approved to offer pro esports contracts, and by December, the players saw the first of many payment delays. Eagle Gaming’s management became increasingly hostile when asked for salary fulfillment and the players, focused on Contenders, soldiered on.
Then in July 2018, the players were notified that the organization had encountered financial difficulties because "some investors were no longer holding their commitments or even had retracted." By August, KnOxXx says he was informed that the organization would be liquidated in the near future due to its insurmountable financial challenges.
The following month, the roster went on to win European Overwatch Contenders Season 2 in front of a home crowd, and following their victory, Eagle Gaming announced that it would be releasing its players from the buyout clause of their contracts. This, they said, was done in order to encourage Overwatch League teams to recruit their players -- but per KnOxXx, Eagle Gaming had been collapsing internally for months.
The organization’s President and founder, Xavier Calvi, resigned last week, leaving Eagle Gaming’s players in dire straits. “The structure leaves today the players without contract and with great financial difficulties: we have not been paid for 3 or 4 months and have never touched the CP (gains of our competitions),” wrote KnOxXx.
He says that he and his former teammates are currently working with a lawyer. “Today we are 9 players in a labor lawsuit and the inactivity of Eagle forces us to unilaterally terminate our employment contract in order to continue our professional career,” he said.
Five of Eagle Gaming's former nine-man roster have since been signed to the Copenhagen Flames. KnOxXx, meanwhile, is retiring as a pro player, although he may return to the esports industry in some capacity in the future. "I just regret that my playing career ends on the failure of a French investor, Eagle Gaming, who has ruined the hopes of a team of talented players," he wrote.
Unfortunately, organizations taking advantage of and failing to pay their employees is not uncommon in esports, especially in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 scenes where there is less oversight and fewer tangible consequences for one’s actions.
Earlier this year, Dot Esports reported extensively on the now-defunct EnVision Esports’ refusal to pay its Overwatch Contenders players and staff for their last month of work. In similar fashion, EnVision’s players were suddenly left stranded and without pay when the organization imploded; they have yet to be compensated.
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Boyer' s original Twitlonger is in French. It was translated into English by an online program and consequently may bear slight inconsistencies.