Streaming platform Azubu is once again making headlines regarding allegations of non-payments, this time within the Dota 2 scene.
For fans of CS:GO, the allegations and nonpayment issues regarding Azubu is old news. The streaming platform has been in the spotlight involving streamers and CS:GO World Championships organizers E-Frag.
The World Championships were held in October 2016 and by June 2017 Azubu had still not made payments. According to E-Frag, the issue was being brought to litigation.
“We are currently in the process of procuring the prize money of the event which was signed contractually to be paid by Azubu at the immediate end of the event. After not paying we decided to hire lawyers in California to discuss this with them. Bearing in mind Azubu not only owe us prize money and months of contractual funds, but also many other event organisers. They asked us to accept a very small amount of the money owed and that we must tell the teams we had the prize pool paid to us. We then took Azubu to arbitration and are currently in the process of getting the money that is owed. Azubu has been telling us that they do not have funds even though they recently purchased Hitbox for millions ”
It was around that same time that Azubu purchased Hitbox for reportedly $40 million and then rebranded as Smashcast. Apparently, investors of Hitbox were still waiting for money from Azubu for that venture in September 2017. It seems that the Azubu financier then had his assets frozen and then after some time sold Smashcast.
According to Danish esports outlet, Dust2.dk, Azubu had evaded E-Frag continuously until lawyers were able to get involved.
Azubu and Dota 2 allegations
Jump to Dota 2. ProDotA Cup CEO and owner, Sam Manuelson, told GosuGamers that Azubu owes the tournament organizer more than $60k for prize pool money that was agreed upon during their exclusive 2-year contract.
The two signed a legal and binding contract spanning from December 2015-2017 to hold ongoing monthly events across various regions with regular prize pool payments made 30 days following completion of each event.
During the February 2017-August 2017 period for ProDotA Cup EU #14-20, Manuelson was forced to delay the prizes to teams and eventually he paid the winnings out of pocket in order to avoid tarnishing his own reputation any further. At that time he then decreased the prize pool in order to make any future payments more manageable until Azubu resumed paying.
When asked why he continued to hold the events despite the nonpayments, Manuelson told GosuGamers that Azubu kept promising payments and he was under contract to hold the event monthly until the end of December 2017. He was afraid of becoming in breach of contract, making it more difficult later to claim the owed money. Instead, he chose to ride out the remainder of the contract, continuing to attempt to reach an understanding with Azubu and keep his organization afloat.
Starting with ProDota Cup 21, Azubu/Smashcast started to resume monthly payments and the tournament contract finished out as written.
However, there is still the case of debt owed – in the amount of a staggering $64,837. In all attempts to resolve the issue. Manuelson says he continued to be evaded or strung along. Several times he was informed that the COO or other managers were no longer with the organization — due to lack of payment and unease about the financial situation —and he and the buck were passed along to a new contact person – with no closure.
Earlier this month Manuelson was again told it was the top of their priority list, but when he inquired further, he once again reached a deadline of communication. At this point, Manuelson feels he has no other option but to continue to pursue a legal avenue as the debt owed is too extensive and already started accumulating over one year ago.
Gosugamers has reached out to Azubu and current manager requesting a statement or open discussion regarding the allegations but has received no response either.
ProDotA is a tournament organizer that has focused primarily on the tier 2 scene in the Americas, Europe and SEA. For over 3 years, they have brought together events in the form of monthly cups as well as a National Cup in September 2016 and ProDotA Grand Masters — a $50,000 event in May 2016 featuring teams such as Liquid, Alliance and Na’Vi.