Elevate who finished 9th-12th at the Call of Duty Pro League Finals is said to be the latest team whose players are not being paid according to contractual obligations. All this appears to be under the auspices once again of Zachary Smith, former manager and person in charge of Denial Esports.
Rumors of non-payment surfaced immediately after the World League finals as it was said players hadn’t been paid for two months or longer or given partial payments.
Elevate purchased the Excelerate Gaming slot in the CWL Pro League for $25,000 last April after problems surfaced between Excelerate’s players and it’s owner Justin Tan. When a video was released from Michael “Beehzy” Said, a former Excelerate player, he revealed an atmosphere within the organization that was oppressive, filled with lies, and one that paid its players late or not at all.
Brandon Hatfield, the current CEO of Elevate is said to be struggling financially with the esports organization and did not respond when asked for comment.
And if the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, more problems may be ahead for Elevate.
Elevate is now said to be run behind the scenes by Zachary Smith, formerly of Denial Esports. During his time at Denial Esports, Smith was accused of similar habits ranging from not paying his players, to forcing players to sign one-sided contracts, to charging back salary payments of players that were sent months before. The charging back of players and staff salaries often put them into a negative balance so any further payments made to them would just go to relieving the negative balance and not seeing positive cash.
InvenGlobal has previously reached out to PayPal but has been met with no response.
As a result of the allegations thrown at Smith during his time at Denial Esports, his reputation inside the Call of Duty scene and esports itself was in a free fall. After many of these allegations were proven true Smith tweeted that he would be leaving esports.
In a TwitLonger dated May 15, 2019 Smith wrote, “Effective immediately, I will no longer be handling the day-to-day business operations of @denialesports. @denialoracle will assume these duties.”
Smith didn’t explicitly deny the accusations but attempted to mitigate the damage stating that there wasn’t enough communication and that he had paid some players out of his own pocket.
“Recently, a former player has accused us of not paying him any salary for his contributions. While that statement is technically true, he did not say why he didn’t receive any payments characterized as “salary,” wrote Smith.
Hands Off Policy
The Call of Duty Pro League appears to have a hands off policy when it comes to players and disputes with their organizations.
When Denial Esports could not legally pay their two French players because they had participated in a Call of Duty Pro League event using tourist visas, sources told Inven that the CWL Pro League told Smith that was his problem and that there was nothing they could do.
Additionally, other players have come forward stating that anytime there has been a dispute between them and their organization in regards to money or contract problems, they have been told that is solely between them and the org.