FunPlus Phoenix's deal for Heroic roster in jeopardy as es3tag leans towards Astralis; Flashpoint spot uncertain *
The Chinese organisation is considering calling off negotiations with Heroic for a deal that everyone thought was done after seeing es3tag snatched from under their nose by Astralis, who are looking to add a sixth player to their squad after a series of mixed results.
Widely known for their world champion team in League of Legends, FunPlus Phoenix officially announced their entry into CS:GO on March 15, two days after the Flashpoint group selection show, in which the Danish team was already referred to as being part of the Chinese organisation. Later that day, Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer's troops made their debut under FunPlus Phoenix in a 2-1 defeat to Cloud9.
This last-minute twist raises questions about FunPlus Phoenix's future in Flashpoint, in which the founding partner slots belong to the organisations. According to 1pv.fr, the Chinese organisation was exempt from paying the $2 million buy-in fee upon joining Flashpoint as the league organiser hastily tried to find more partners before the launch of the competition. FunPlus Phoenix reportedly only needed to pay the franchise fee after 12 months and in case they decided to remain in the league. This claim has since been refuted by Dan Fiden, Cloud9 president and interim CEO of Flashpoint, who stressed that the trial period for the Chinese organisation "was never true".
Should the deal collapse, the Danish players are likely to return to Heroic, which could leave FunPlus Phoenix without a team to field in Sunday's lower bracket match against Orgless. This would place another stone in what has already been a rocky start for Flashpoint, which launched with just eight partners and not ten as initially planned and was recently forced to shift to an online setting because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Heroic were initially set to compete in the ESL Pro League but had to forfeit their slot in the competition following the team's move to FunPlus Phoenix. They were replaced by BIG, who are sitting at the top of Group B with two victories from as many matches.
UPDATE: Erik Askered, CEO of Heroic, provided the following statement to HLTV.org: "I am unable to comment at this moment, as we are making legal preparations. This is due to the fact that we know and can prove that Astralis has acted in bad faith, and have considerably affected the sale of Heroic to FPX."
UPDATE 2: Nikolaj Nyholm, CEO and Founder of Astralis, issued a statement on Twitter after his organisation confirmed es3tag's signing. According to him, "no actions were taken to the detriment of Heroic or FPX", and Astralis offered es3tag "an employment agreement starting July 1" after being informed that Heroic wanted $800,000 for a player who had three months left on his contract. His full statement can be found here.