QB.Fire co-owner on money-stealing claims: "Nothing to do with the truth"
After the CIS Minor we spoke with Vyacheslav Solovyev, co-owner of Quantum Bellator Fire, to discuss the alleged owing of funds to players.
A recent tweet from Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov caught the eyes of the community as the player revealed that between September 2017 and June 2018 a total of $95,000 was owed - whether this was to him individually or to the entire roster is unknown.
The tweet was in response to Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson, who had opened up about a list of issues involving his former organisation of NiP in an interview with Richard Lewis. In the two-hour-long conversation, the former Ninja detailed a list of wrong-doings on the part of the Swedish organisation, including outstanding payments to former and current players.
In a later tweet, Boombl4 mentioned that one of the individuals that were allegedly involved in stealing the money was at the CIS Minor. It later emerged that the person in question was Quantum Bellator Fire co-owner Vyacheslav Solovyev, who was at the CIS Minor as part of forZe's entourage.
The allegations were later confirmed by fellow ex-Quantum Bellator Fire member Savelii "jmqa" Bragin, who issued a statement to Cybersport.ru explaining that the team, who had raised eyebrows with a quarter-final run at ELEAGUE Major Boston, ended up turning down offers from other organisations with increased wages, bootcamps and other perks to give QB.Fire the necessary time to put together better conditions for the squad. The players would end up moving to Winstrike in the summer, making their first appearance with the new jerseys at Moche XL Esports, in late June, even though the organisation would not officially launch until August 1.
On Monday morning, as part of our coverage of the Minor Championships, HLTV.org spoke to Quantum Bellator Fire co-owner Vyacheslav Solovyev, who guaranteed that there were no outstanding payments and that all players had been compensated in full for stickers, prize money and other expenses. He went on to explain the situation, describing on-goings prior to the Major, post, and the complications experienced:
"Not too long before the Major, the wages of both the players and coach were increased to $750 per month," he said. "Due to technical difficulties, we weren't able to sign contracts with the players, and after their successful showing at the Major, the players returned to Moscow.
"Upon return, they stated that they wouldn't sign the contracts, instead asking for a pay increase to $5,000, saying: 'Teams at the Major receive this much, and even more', word for word.
"They started setting single-week deadlines, then two-week deadlines for the wage increase, saying that they would otherwise leave for another organisation. We were told that they received a list of offers: for example, we learned that k1ck esports had allegedly offered them a monthly compensation of 3,500 Euros, according to them."
"If I'm honest this was a terrible period of time because it felt like they weren't themselves after returning from the Major."
As negotiations continued, the two parties agreed that QB.Fire would have three months to make the transition "from a hobby to a business" in an attempt to meet the players' requirements, according to Mr. Solovyev. During this period, the players' wages "were increased to $2,000."
Despite QB.Fire's efforts, the organisation was unable to find the financial resources to provide the conditions the team required, leading to negotiations with parties interested in buying out the roster.
“The deadline was unfortunately very tight, and, importantly, the players lacked media presence," he explained. "Additionally, this was the only result the team showed, prior to that there had been nothing, and, unfortunately afterward there was nothing either. It was the only sort of 'splash' that they showed. As such, I was unable to negotiate terms with partners that would cover all of their wages and expenses.
"We started negotiations with organisations regarding the sale of the roster. At this point the relationship with the team got to a critical point, we constantly heard, 'we don't have contracts, we don't owe you anything and we want to leave'.
"At this point, my business partner decided to freeze any payments to the players' accounts until the deal was finalised. Initially, I was against this because I had hoped that the players' would come around and the stardom would subside, opting to remain and continue progressing with the organisation, or wait until we were able to close a transfer deal. I made them a promise and I came through with it.
"As things progressively heated up, I also approved the decision to freeze payments. I'd like to point out that they were fully aware of this, and no one ever told them that this money wouldn't be paid out, provided they delivered on their spoken promise of remaining within the organisation for the three months while we paid their wages. It was either they remain within the organisation and we provide them with better terms and wages, or we agree a sale.
"In the end, we agreed a sale with Winstrike, and as of June 2018 the roster represented their colours. Because the payments were frozen, and the players mixed Winstrike into the story, the deal has been on-going for a while and is yet to be finalised, but we are close to a logical conclusion. Two months later, Winstrike made the correct administerial decision to pay out the frozen sum to the players, subtracting it from the transfer fee. As a result, the players received all outstanding money, subtracted out of the transfer fee."
Solovyov detailed the financials of the transfer, stating that the organisation ended up agreeing to pay a larger sum than what had initially been stipulated:
“During the transfer to Winstrike we agreed the total amount of frozen payments that we owed and had to pay out as part of the transfer process, it was supposed to be part of the deal.
"Seeing as the process was delayed, Winstrike paid out, but preliminarily, accounting for taxation, bank transfer commissions and similar expenses the sum came to a total of 2,200,000 Rubles (~$35,000 as per xe.com, 29/07/2019). After the players had transferred [to Winstrike], and I don't know what the thought process was, but we told them that there were taxes to be paid, the money would be received by a legal entity, they said: "We don't care, the sum you owe us is 2,950,000 Rubles".
"At that point we agreed to the sum because we were tired of the stress involved with the players, we just wanted to finally close the deal. This sum included their prize winnings, sticker money and their last month of wages and a few other expenses. We agreed to the sum of RUB2,950,000 (~$46,000 as per xe.com, 29/07/2019), which was deducted from the transfer fee, and, in my opinion, we even overpaid. The prize money was distributed with a 75-25 proportion - 75% for the players and coach, 25% to the organisation.
"To give financial context on sticker money, players received 5% each, while the coach received 10% because we knew he didn't have personal stickers, so we thought it fair to compensate him."
Questioned on the allegations about QB.Fire stealing money from the players, Mr. Solovyov said: "I think the words about stealing are simply slanderous and may be based on personal resentment. It has nothing to do with the truth."