Oceania Pro League team Tainted Minds, currently ranked fifth in the Australian circuit, finds itself mired in a potentially devastating contractual dispute. With the assistance of Jessep Entertainment and Sports Lawyers, members of the organization have filed a legal notice of termination with Tainted Minds, citing multiple instances of contract breaches by the esports organization, as shared by former coach Nick “Inero” Smith and manager Fasffy.
The allegations made against Tainted Minds, as heavily supported by an extensive collection of timestamped chatlogs of the last three months, include failure to secure contracted necessities in a timely manner – the team house lacked basic necessities for two months, the team was forced to practice via a local net café for two weeks, the PCs provided were insufficient for their purposes, plus sanitation and mold issues persisted despite repeated requests for the organization to address the team’s living standards.
All that, and the power kept going out when the laundry machine was used – or for the entire half of the house. All without AC, in the midst of the Australian summer.
But the issues were far from just the practice environment. Inero’s attempts to buy out his contract before the contract lock were delayed, eventually leading to a mediation request with Riot Games – which ultimately went nowhere.
After contacting Riot, they agree to set up a mediation session with the management of Tainted Minds to help resolve the issues we had been facing. A house inspection and a mediation session before the start of OPL are both canceled despite the issues remaining. Another meeting is set for January 22nd, but is ultimately canceled due to a public holiday. The next meeting is set for January 26th but is also canceled. The next meeting is set for February 6th, and ultimately goes through. This happens after I have already announced my free agency on twitter, and I believe my announcement is the only reason for it going forward after the multiple cancelations prior. The contents of the meeting are under NDA with Riot Games and are not meant to be published.
Despite the meeting being held, none of the issues were resolved with Tainted Minds, and the ongoing internet issues worsened. We missed 2 weeks of scrims OPL season (Weeks of practice before Week 2 and 3 of OPL) due to the internet issues. Our performance in OPL was restricted heavily by the lack of practice. I was still working without a PC, despite my contracting stating that I would have one that met the same conditions as the players. The computers that were provided were still having issues with random crashing and poor performance. Tainted Minds began to start upgrading the computers slowly over the week prior to us sending in our notices of termination. We were advised to contract a lawyer if we felt the issues still existed in Tainted Minds
A lawyer was eventually recruited on part of the players, and a notice of termination was sent to Tainted Minds on February 13 as the team left the house. But that wasn’t the end of it.
Tainted Minds obviously rejected our claims of free agency and announced on February 17th that we were still under contract with them. After this statement was made, we begin hearing multiple claims from people [in gaming] that Tainted Minds have put most of the blame on us. They claim to have provided 3 internet lines, computers, and everything that would ensure players' happiness. They accuse Fasffy of "poisoning" the relationship between the players and Tainted Minds, despite her constant effort to improve things on both sides. Unfortunately the people who have sent us these chat logs have asked that they are not released, due to it breaking their trust with the other party. If you would like these chat logs to be provided to ensure that I am being honest, please contact me and I will provide them to you.
Riot’s mediation is in itself a point of contention for the former members and their lawyer, citing multiple conflicts of interests specific to their situation.
On February 18th, Tainted Minds had 13 players listed on the Official Contract Database. The same day, our lawyer contacts Daniel Ringland and forwards a list of all the breaches that he has deemed applicable in our current situation with Tainted Minds. This letter is on the tab labeled "Notice to Riot." He includes in this letter a mention of Tainted Minds violating Rule 3.2 which requires that all teams have no more than 10 players listed on their roster. On February 20th, we notice that the contract database has been updated to only have 10 players total on the roster, but the "Last updated" date has remained the same. I believe this was an attempt to cover up the situation, as Riot Games have obviously permitted the organization to field more players than should be possible on their roster so that they could play on the weekend following our departure, despite the fact we already had 5 substitutes. February 22nd, the database is updated to show that it has been last updated on February 19th, despite our photos on February 20th with the database saying "February 16th." I believe this is due to the information going public, as an old Rioter pointed out the violation on twitter as well.
Ultimately, it is my belief that Daniel Ringland showed a clear case of bias in the way this entire situation regarding our issues with Tainted Minds was handled. John McRae let us know verbally prior to all of this that Daniel was a key part of convincing him to invest in the OPL. Riot Games is also running a High School League in New Zealand that's partnered and operated by LetsPlayLive, a business owned by John McRae. Multiple mediation cancelations and allowances given to the organization seem very misplaced with the urgency that we showed to Daniel in our attempts at reaching out to him. Chris Schubert, of Riot Games, let us know that he did not handle our case due to his clear case of bias with Fasffy, as they are friends outside of work. I believe that Daniel did not take this same level of care and it resulted in the prolonging of this situation.
The Database is a key point of contention as well. As has been drawn up during the poaching allegations levied at North America’s Echo Fox, a player’s presence on it is the sole determinant as to whether or not they can be approached by another organization. But not only is the Database often spottily maintained, with even significant regions like the LCK outdated for weeks to months at a time, the conflicts of interest at play are preventing the Oceanic players in dispute with Tainted Minds from furthering their careers elsewhere.
According to our lawyer, we have legally terminated our contract for cause and are not bound to represent Tainted Minds any further. The only way we are currently bound to Tainted Minds is through the Riot Contract Database. Tainted Minds have opted to make no move on the matter, and because of this inaction, Riot continue to keep us within the database.
Chat Logs will reveal a few more of the issues we have had with Tainted Minds, but what I have listed above summarizes the main problems that we had during our time representing this organization. We tried to work with TM internally and it ultimately failed. We approached Riot as a last resort before the season started and were stalled for nearly a month. We have tried to solve things peacefully through every avenue possible, and continue to look to do so. I have had no interest in making public comments that would damage Tainted Minds's reputation, but due to the current situation, I feel it is appropriate that I defend the reputation of myself, and the players I worked with, to the best of my ability.
As of this writing, PVP Live has been informed that the legal representative of the players, coach, and manager are waiting on Riot’s legal team. We've contacted Riot Games HQ and Tainted Minds for a statement about the situation.