Bpro, Outlaws in contractual dispute
Bpro Gaming and Outlaws, two of Bulgaria’s biggest esports organisations, could soon be involved in a legal battle regarding the contracts of Nikolay "niki1" Pantaleev and Nikola "NK4Y" Radushev.
Since the start of the month, Nikolay "niki1" Pantaleev and Nikola "NK4Y" Radushev have been playing for both Bpro and Outlaws in different competitions, leaving fans confused as the two organisations have remained silent on the topic. Both players have been part of Bpro since January 2016 with the exception of a brief period at the start of this year in which niki1 represented MK before the team disbanded.
niki1 has been playing for Outlaws since the start of this month
The chaotic situation saw niki1 and NK4Y take on (and defeat) Bpro earlier in the week, in a Hellcase Cup qualifier match. Days earlier, the pair had helped Outlaws to secure a spot in the closed qualifier for ESL One Cologne, in which Bpro were eliminated in the Round of 32.
"The two players are playing for the team of another organization without our permission, which is against the commitments outlined in their contracts,” Bpro said in a statement given to HLTV.org.
"We raised the issue publicly on April 3, and a meeting was arranged with UltraPlay [the company behind Outlaws]. We did not reach an agreement.
"The situation was very bad for us because the players would not even show up for our matches, which had to be cancelled or moved if possible. Later on, we agreed with the two players that they would show up for some of the matches, at least for the time being.
"While this was happening, Outlaws benched Acl and Partodis, and continued to field our players, signing them up for multiple tournaments, including the ESL Southeastern Championship, the ESL One Cologne Open Qualifier, the Hellcase qualifier and the Balkan Pro League.
"So far, negotiations have been fruitless. The only thing Outlaws have asked us is to not make too much noise about this, but it is difficult not to."
Contacted by HLTV.org, the two players in question claimed that they are no longer tied to Bpro after submitting resignation letters with a two-week notice earlier in the month, explaining that, under Bulgarian law, that is standard procedure for service provider agreements like the ones that tied them to the organization.
"I cancelled my contract with Bpro at the beginning of April as per the contractual terms and resignation period, and I am currently playing as a free agent without an organization," niki1 told HLTV.org.
"I am in negotiations with Outlaws to join their organization, but have not signed any contract yet."
Bpro confirmed that they have received the duo’s resignation letters but claimed that the documents are not legally acceptable. They are now ready to take the case to court to defend their position and keep the players in their ranks.
"As an organization, we have invested a lot of resources in these players and thus they have grown to become valuable players,” Bpro added.
"Additionally, to support the team we have provided the players with high-spec gaming equipment and attended to their requests as they were raised. To this day, the two players are still using this equipment while playing for Outlaws.
"Bpro has followed the commitments outlined in the contracts in terms of payment, the last of which came through in April 2017. With great disappointment and reluctance, we intend to take legal action against the two players and against the organization Ultra Play/Outlaws."
HLTV.org knows that tournament organisers will refrain from getting involved in a matter of this nature at this point and will wait for the two organisations to reach an agreement or for the Bulgarian justice to make a ruling.
As for Outlaws, they remain confident that the players are no longer contracted to Bpro, even though they have yet to tie them down to contracts.
"Outlaws respect and work according to the professional ethics and standards of the global esports industry,” the organization told HLTV.org.
"Rumors and unfair game cannot be tolerated and are subject of legal actions by Outlaws and the organizations supporting the team.
"Any allegations without concrete facts are working against the professional eSports ecosystem in general, and moreover the teams that are playing so hard to make the difference and are trying to fulfill their dreams."