FURIA CEO: "This contract is an incentive and reflects the trust in our potential for the following years"
We caught up with Jaime de Pádua, FURIA's CEO and founder, and enquired him about the team's new contracts and the leak of an alleged old deal.
The length of the new deal has sparked fierce criticism in the community due to the ever-changing nature of the esports ecosystem. It has also evoked memories of the four-year contracts that the old Virtus.pro team signed in December 2016, shortly before things began to go sideways.
Adding even more fuel to that particular fire was a recent report from Dexerto revealing excerpts from an alleged old FURIA contract according to which the players had a $200,000 buyout despite making $1,400 a month, and kept just 40% of tournament winnings.
In written answers to questions from HLTV.org, Jaime de Pádua shed more light about some of the terms of the current deal, even though the actual numbers remain a mystery. He also reiterated that the five-year contracts will allow the organisation to secure better commercial deals and include significant performance-based bonuses for the players.
The five-year contract extension was quite controversial as it is not common practice in esports. Why did you feel that it was necessary to tie the players down to such long deals?
A longer deal allows for more commercial security for the big brands that are looking to partner with FURIA, this way diminishing the apparent risk that comes from joining a relatively new project. Besides, we can continue the work that we have been doing in terms of bringing more value to the professional career of our athletes, going beyond in-game aspects by also taking care of their image and building alternative ways that they can make money off their own brand through excellent commercial deals and partnerships, among other things.
Many people look at this new contract as a way for FURIA to make it even harder for its players who have been on MIBR’s wishlist to leave. What is your take on that criticism?
I think the criticism is natural but unfounded. The buyouts were merely adjusted based on the players’ new earnings. Besides, we came up with multiple scenarios in which the buyouts are reduced, like in the case a player gets benched, for example. The buyout figure has nothing to do with the length of the contract and is perfectly within the market norms.
In the past, KSCERATO had already been targeted by MIBR, and now it was yuurih's turn. Looking at MIBR’s history and the appeal that this name generates in the Brazilian community, it is perfectly normal that these players at least considered leaving FURIA, which ended up not happening. How is it possible to guarantee that these players are fully committed and that the team continues stable, especially at a critical time of the year like this?
Both the entire team and players individually have had offers from countless organisations. However, they are all mature and professional enough to be focused during practice and in tournaments, regardless of what could happen outside of the game. That is one of the reasons that have been performing so well. Perhaps our biggest investment since the beginning has been on the psychological part. We are all very focused.
Many have drawn parallels between FURIA and Virtus.pro, whose team started a painful decline shortly after the players signed four-year deals. Don’t you think that there is such a risk now? Because VP’s initial thought was to bring stability to the team, which is precisely what did not happen…
We believe that this contract is an incentive and reflects the trust in our potential for the following years. In the document we predict different scenarios in which the players’ earnings can increase or decrease according to performance or popularity. However, we are confident that the players will continue playing at the highest level and that our trajectory has just begun.
This Monday, details were leaked about an alleged old contract signed by the players. Could you confirm the legitimacy of those clauses? Why a contract written in English? Did the players have counsel to understand every clause in the contract?
There was a lot of ill will in all of this. Firstly, what was leaked was not our contract. It was a document that was not even signed. Even if that were a draft, which is something that we cannot verify without knowing the reporter’s source, these elements were clearly cut out deliberately to try to damage our organisation. Our player contracts have a base salary plus a big part related to performance bonuses. Either the document that the reporter used was not ours or it was edited to try to substantiate that senseless remuneration. That whole story was very poorly fabricated. The reporter in question said that he contacted us, which is a lie. He never approached us to comment on this matter, only to ask which organisation was interested in our players. Besides, he sought the opinion of a lawyer who agreed to analyse a document that was not signed and had no author or owner. He judged how we treat our athletes based on a document that was not our contract. As I said, it was all very strange…
Much of the criticism was targeted at two key points: the huge discrepancy between the salary and the buyout, and the way the prize money was split between the players and the organisation (40%-60%). The first one had already been discussed at length when MIBR tried to sign KSCERATO (even though at the time no-one knew exactly what his salary was). What is the reason for FURIA to keep 60% of prize winnings?
That criticism was based on a document that is not our contract.
Our reality is quite different. Our contracts have varied revenue streams which, when put together, represent the exact remuneration of our athletes. I am talking about bonuses based on results, on the HLTV.org ranking, among other things. Besides, when it comes to prize winnings, we established different percentages based on the amount of prize money. The structure is much more elaborate and beneficial to the players than the made-up version that was published, and, given the incredible performances of our team, they have received a very substantial amount – high enough to make them resist the allure of other teams and renew their contracts with FURIA for an unprecedented five years!
What are the key differences between the old contract and the newest one?
The new contract was created together with renowned lawyers and is quite different from the oldest one. Under this new model, we created clauses that protect the players, like a reduced buyout in the event of benching and a higher base salary, among other things. We also kept the progressive performance bonuses, which are very interesting for the players and for the organisation. We proportionately adjusted the buyouts but nothing that goes beyond the reality of the market.
How can FURIA defend itself from the interest of other organisations in its players? Do you have – or are you looking for – international investors in order to be able to provide better conditions?
One thing that must be clear is that there has never been the case of a player not leaving FURIA because of a buyout fee. That has never been an issue for the big international organisations. When we say that the buyouts are perhaps even lower than those out there, we are being 100% honest. Buyouts have never been discussed; what has been discussed is whether players want to leave or not. We will continue investing a lot in the players, in the team, trying to provide better and better conditions for them to be able to continue to do their amazing work. And, more importantly, we will keep our relationship transparent and friendly like we have always done. This is something that makes them feel a part of the organisation and that seems to be absurd in the esports world.
Is there something else that you would like to tell FURIA’s fans and the international community?
FURIA only exists because of its fans. On behalf of the players, staff and organisation, I can only thank everyone’s support. This was not the first time that someone tried to do us harm, and it will not be the last, but we will always be ready to openly answer every question. Our history has just begun. Thank you for your trust.