Since its creation, the North American Immortals have been successful in build a fan following, achieving competitive success, and avoiding major scandals. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to make it last no matter how hard you try. Immortals is no exception.
Through no discernible fault of their own, Immortals has found itself in the middle of a huge CS:GO scandal. Everything began back at the PGL Major Kraków, where three Immortals’ players, Vito “kNg” Giuseppe, Lucas “LUCAS1” Tele, and Henrique “HEN1” Teles went out to party on the night before their Grand Finals match against Gambit. Immortals lost. It’s unclear whether the partying was the cause for Immortals’ loss, nobody gave them hell about it online.
Then, DreamHack Montreal came. kNg had to travel back to Brazil to take care of his visa and come to Canada to play in the matches. Understandably, he was jet-lagged. Immortals made it to the Playoffs of the tournament. They were matched in the Semifinals against Counter Logic Gaming. According to reports, some of their players were a little bit late to the match. Immortals received a warning. Then, they won the match 2-0, earning themselves a spot in the Finals.
According to kNg, some players went back to the hotel to catch some sleep and overslept, being late for the Finals. This time, DreamHack officials weren’t in the mood to be lenient, making Immortals forfeit the first map of the Finals series. After that, Immortals lost Map 2 as well and lost the series.
After the match, CLG’s coach, Steve “Ryu” Rattacasa Tweeted, implying that several Immortals players were out drinking the night after. Pujan “FNS” Mehta also poured gasoline on the fire. While he probably intended to cheekily tease the Immortals players by saying that CLG is so bad that they managed to lose to a hungover team, kNg took it another way and threatened to kill FNS. It’s been reported that the Brazilian even went looking for FNS in the hotel.
Understandably, there was a huge backlash. kNg refused to apologize to FNS. The situation wasn’t made easier when other Brazilian players commented on the matter, making it worse. The diehard Brazilian CS:GO fans started threatening FNS as well. Even if the threats aren’t really likely to be serious, even the smallest probability of something bad really happening is unacceptable.
After that, Immortals suspended kNg, replacing him with Raphael “cogu” Camargo in the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 and their coach, Rafael “zakk” Fernandes at the EPICENTER 2017 Americas Closed Qualifier match against CLG.
That is where it gets truly confusing. Immortals started a best of 3 series against Counter Logic Gaming and lost the first map, Train, 13-16. Seems straight. Then, kNg appeared on the next two maps, Inferno and Cache, which they won, winning the series 2-1. Just after the match ended, Noah Whinston, the CEO of Immortals Tweeted, saying that kNg was not sanctioned to play in the match because of an internal suspension following the death threat debacle.
Soon after, kNg announced that he’s no longer part of Immortals.
Sometime later, the player released a statement, addressing the whole thing. Basically, he complained about his visa for DreamHack Montreal being delayed with the Immortals organization at fault for it, being extremely tired at the tournament. He denied being drunk the night before the Final, explaining that he just took a nap before the Finals match and overslept. There was no apology to FNS.
Speaking about the EPICENTER situation, he basically said that Immortals didn’t officially notify him of the suspension. Lucas “steel” Lopes, the Captain of the team, was the one to inform him of it. Later, after Immortals lost the first map to CLG at the EPICENTER Qualifier, steel, kNg claims, asked the team’s manager, Nick Phan, if kNg could step in and received approval. LUCAS1 and HEN1 have also urged him to play.
Okay, these are the facts, more or less. Now, let’s evaluate the whole thing, starting from the top.
First of all, there are two things which cannot be excused. Threatening violence and being late for a match. Let’s talk about the threats first. Esports is essentially an entertainment industry where the most skilled players in the world play a computer game for varying amounts of money. In general, esports players are not the same as the professional athletes, who could punch your lights out if you looked at them wrong.
In such an environment, physical threats are completely unacceptable. Esports is not about macho men proving who’s manlier. It’s about finding out who’s the best at a video game. We, as a community, should be well above such base behavior. Anyone who doesn’t agree should never be part of the scene in the first place.
Concerning being late, there’s also no excuse. As a professional CS:GO player, you get the honor of representing your team in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Events are expensive to organize; the viewers dedicate their time to watching you play. It’s inexcusable to disrupt that and being late for a match, any match, is unprofessional and disrespectful. Disrespectful to the team you represent, your teammates, the tournament organizers, and, most importantly, the fans.
You might be jet-lagged, you might be tired, but guess what, there are thousands of people who would jump at the chance to take your place. Out of all of them, you were the one fortunate enough to represent Immortals at DreamHack Montreal. People were excited to see you play all over the world, some might have even stayed up on the other side of the world to see the Final. You ruined that.
There is also the implications of going out drinking the night before the Finals. When Richard Lewis asked kNg’s teammates, steel and Ricardo “boltz” Prass, if they knew if kNg was drinking the night before, they answered that they didn’t know where you were.
Where you should have been was with your teammates, going over the demos for the next day’s games or in bed, making sure you were as rested as much as possible for the most important matches of the tournament.
Anecdotally, Richard “shox” Papillon of G2 Esports is said to have a good time on the night before tournament appearances, but he is good enough and established enough to get away with it. He also doesn’t cost their team the first match of the series in a Final. kNg is worse than shox, less established than shox, and cost Immortals a Finals.
The whole EPICENTER situation is a bit fishy. With the image Immortals has in the esports industry, it’s extremely unlikely that Noah Whinston would have signed off on kNg stepping in. There are two possible explanations for the situation. Either the manager, Nick Phan, gave his approval for kNg to step in without talking about it with the CEO, or someone’s lying.
We are leaning towards kNg trying to make the situation smell less like male cow excrement. We seriously doubt that Immortals managed to fail to communicate to kNg that he is suspended. Even if the org somehow did, the player admitted that steel told him about it. In circumstances like this, it’s extremely unlikely that a Qualifier match would be enough to lift a suspension after a screw-up of such monumental proportions as the one kNg found himself in.
This leaves LUCAS1 and HEN1 telling kNg to play. In the face of an ESPN report saying that the twins want to leave Immortals. With tinfoil hats on, we have to wonder if they egged kNg on to play in the qualifier in the hope of making enough trouble for the organization to be released from their contract.
Why would they do that? Quite simple, to be honest. They are quite friendly with kNg. All three players are the ones Immortals constantly have trouble with. Their coach, zakk, even said that he has to babysit them at events. With kNg gone, the Teles twins would have to keep playing without their friends for an organization they no longer want to play for.
If Immortals let them go, however, they could team up with kNg once again and start approaching teams, offering the Legend spot that would belong to them according to the Valve Major rules. According to the rules and regulations of the Majors, the Legend status and the invite to the Major belongs not to the organization but the players. The team which has three out of the five players who made the Playoffs of the Major is qualified.
This would be completely unfair to Immortals, but especially to steel and boltz, who were the professional ones on the team. They were never late, they were never the source of public drama.
Any team which signed kNg, LUCAS1, and HEN1 would be basically saying that they don’t mind fielding problematic players who can’t be bothered getting to the Finals of a tournament on time, party all night before important matches, and even threaten to kill other pros, as long as they get a spot in the next Valve Major. That would be a PR disaster.
That is being said with the assumption that Noah Whinston will agree to release LUCAS1 and HEN1. We hope he doesn’t. Make them play until the Major comes or sit them on the bench in the meanwhile, but don’t risk the Major spot. Unfortunately, the Immortals CEO seems like too good of a guy. He let Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo, his star player at the time, go to SK Telecom T1, Huni’s dream team, despite having a recently renewed contract. Whinston seems to have an admirable quality of putting the team’s values before competitive success sometimes. This is time to be a badass, in our opinion.