Jacobson speaks about the WinOut CS team’s controversial departure
Only a few weeks ago the news broke that WinOut had acquired the Frag Dominant Counter-Strike lineup. The organization appeared to be very excited about its top tier squad and optimistic about its first steps into CS.
However, just this week news started to leak out that the team was no longer associated with the WinOut organization. This news was confirmed by both the players and WinOut earlier today. In a post on the WinOut site owner Doug Jacobson stated the reason behind the separation was a lack of professionalism by the players but did not go into detail.
This afternoon, Liridon “quas” Ademaj changed the tone of his original quote in a post on the Gotfrag forums. Ademaj claimed WinOut was very unreasonable and was essentially trying to take advantage of the players.
In the end I believe that Jacobson saw an opportunity to get exposure for his website and he took it. He felt that if he ever needed to drop us he would be able to without any problems, seeing as aZn had “unprofessional” issues with CGS and chE and evo with team EG and he tried to take full advantage of that.
We reached out to WinOut’s Doug Jacobson to see if he was willing to discuss the situation, and the interview is below.
First, thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview. To get things started, can you give us a breakdown of your time in eSports? Who have you previously worked with and how did WinOut.net come to be?
I started in eSports as a very competitive Counter-Strike player and lead Confederacy to CAL-Invite and CEVO-Professional. I’ve always been a very involved in-game leader, typing up and going over strats religiously and taking on the role of the Manager outside of the game, forcing my teammates to be professional on forums and IRC. I always knew in the back of my mind if I ever stopped playing competitively I would get into something along those lines. After giving up playing competitively, I made a post on GotFrag that I would be making a pay-to-join “team lesson” that would last for 3 months. It ended up pretty successful and it inspired me to do more in gaming and create WinOut.
For those who aren’t yet familiar with WinOut, can you give us a summary of the company, the business model and your goals in professional gaming?
It originated as a strictly subscription based website, with weekly content directly based on the map rotation of CEVO, provided by top players. We also provided a platform for top gamers to market themselves as instructors. It didn’t take long to see some success, and we started to look for ways to give back to the community. We covered CAL-Invite when other websites didn’t care. We even added an additional $500 to the prize for CAL-Invite that season, which CAL never paid out because of their own issues. After seeing so many great teams being moved into CEVO-Main this past season, and nobody willing to cover it, we stepped in. We’ve spent many hours writing predictions, creating videos, publishing Pro content and HLTV Coverage for nearly 50 teams in CEVO-Main this season, and I think the community took a great liking to it.
Being just past the 1 year mark, we’re still constantly changing to better ourselves while trying to provide something unique to the community. The success we’ve seen from covering CEVO-Main was quite unexpected and we’ve started to run with it, recently covering several local LAN events including VS Gaming, E-Spot and GameFrog. You can expect to see our custom event system in the very near future, with our extensive stats system to be released later this week.
Recently WinOut made front page news with the acquisition of the hot Frag Dominant roster. Tell us a bit about that pick up. How did it occur? Why did you choose this roster to be your first Counter-Strike squad?
In all honesty, it fell into our lap. The Thursday prior to ETS 2009, chE and Quas both started messaging me to tell me about the fallout of Frag Dominant. They made it clear they were looking for a team to represent at the event, but they needed the funding to attend. Since I’ve known all of these guys for years, after playing with Quas for a year in CAL-im, and then again for 6 months in Confederacy, evolution for a year in Confederacy (who stayed at my house for a week prior to CPL 2006), chE for a few weeks in Fear Factor and many, many east coast LANS both with and against aZn, it was an easy choice to take these guys on board.
With just 3 days notice, WinOut spent $375 sending the team to the event on a handshake as our newly acquired team. The agreement was pretty simple, WinOut would provide hotel and entry fee into events (travel not included) and if the team placed anywhere in the money, they would return the entry fee to us, and keep 100% of the winnings. If they lost, we lost the entry fee and they lost nothing. In return, they would be required to write a blog, take pictures at events, upload POV demos and create one 2-5 minute demo each month, which would then be turned into a WinOut Pro Tip video by one of our editors. Being that I’ve known these guys in person for something like 7 years now and the fact that they are (at least in my mind) the #1 team in the US right now, it was easy to ignore the fact that written contracts would be put off until after the event.
Early this week the news of the squad’s departure slowly came to light and the players played as #Delta-Elite-Force in their ESEA match. What exactly transpired that lead to the squad’s departure? The post on your site stated professionalism was at the heart of the decision. You stated “The team was absolutely incredible in-game, but professional gaming requires a lot more than the ability to win matches. You need a certain marketability to obtain sponsorship and a fan base for the long term. Sadly, this team just doesn’t have the skills or the professionalism required to do so.” What happened?
Following ETS 2009, it seemed very clear what had happened. It seemed they had used my good will to provide an upfront entry fee and hotel payments (which obviously I have proof of via PayPal) to get a free ride to the event. There were no blogs, no pictures because a camera had coincidentally broken, and one demo from each player was uploaded (except chE). The only person who actually did everything asked of them was Matt “Lim” Beahan, who was a stand-in for the event (and also a former teammate of mine in Confederacy).
A month later, still nothing from any of the players. I couldn’t even get an audio interview out of aZn. When confronting Quas about the issues at hand, I was honestly hurt. I told them that if they wanted to continue as WinOut, they would need to sign the contracts we originally agreed to. To which he replied, “It’s just business Doug. Drop us. Wanna pug?”
In a GotFrag forum thread, Quas responded to the WinOut post by claiming the players were offered nothing and leveled allegations that WinOut was merely out to take advantage of them. How do you respond to those allegations?
I don’t know what that means or how WinOut could use them? We were laying out cash for them to attend events. What did they provide for us? The team had refused to put into writing what we had discussed prior to ETS 2009, and they had suddenly felt that we were now required to buy chE a new hard drive (which I did not do), plane tickets for evolution, who they seemingly forgot to mention was moving to Florida a week after joining the organization, all after stating no travel fees would be needed for any of these local events since they were local (Oh, except for the guy who now lives in Florida. Woops.)
Here’s the funniest part about Quas’ statements regarding the contracts. None of them have ever even seen the actual contracts, including Quas. How would you like things changed or modified if you have not read them? The team was not remotely interested in even viewing them if they did not include a minimum $300 monthly player salary, with incentives leading up to $1000 monthly salaries. Prior to ETS 2009, it was clearly stated that WinOut would only be required to provide hotel and entry fees.
Another humorous point to bring up in this situation is frequently when a new organization loses a bigger named team, you generally have accusations that the organization never reimbursed the team for things they promised. In this case, it’s actually the exact opposite, and currently the team owes me money (which I can also prove) from the entry fee since they won the event. They claim they will pay this back when their ETS checks come in, except evolution, who seemingly has no recollection of the event whatsoever, and “just plays cs.”
Does WinOut have any future plans for Counter-Strike or has this experience changed your mind about fielding a team?
WinOut has huge plans for Counter-Strike. We’re dreamers, what can I say? The fact of the matter is, we never planned to pick up this team in the first place. We were merely doing them a favor by helping them out when nobody else would. We’ve done things like this previously with former ROCCAT at Assembly Winter ‘09. In this case however, it was for the long term. I honestly never would’ve expected such problems from people I thought were friends, especially considering I’ve run into them in my local neighborhood every now and again. You can expect to see our event system and coverage at many local events this summer, which is at the top of our priorities right now. The LAN scene is regressing quickly, and we’re going to do everything we can to give it the jump start we all know it deserves. As far as the former team changing my mind about fielding a team, I won’t let a few bad apples ruin the whole barrel.
Thanks again for your time. Any final comments, observations or shoutouts?
I’d just like to apologize to the community. Things like this make us all look bad, and for that I’m sorry. I hope to continue to have a professional relationship with our former team, they are great players and I wish them the best of luck. With that said, I’d like to thank our fans and sponsors, Sick Servers (www.sickservers.net), QPADUSA (www.qpadusa.com), Sponsored Gaming (www.sponsoredgaming.com) and Main Voice (www.main-voice.net).