Tyler “Spartan” Ganzaone of the best professional Halo Infinite players in the world, has voluntarily benched himself for the remainder of the game’s scheduled season, alleging that his team, eUnitedrestrains him from contracting under “inadmissible and oppressive” conditions.
Following the hectic rollout of Halo Infinite’s second season earlier this month, Ganza was one of the game’s most vocal pro-class critics. On social media, he skewered many failures of the update— focusing on how the patch introduced a bug that blocked guns—and did it with, uh, colorful language. He was fined $2,500 by the Halo Championship Series (HCS) organization, which cited a violation of the professional gamers’ code of conduct. eUnited followed that up with its own fine: $750.
But, he says, a $3,250 hit isn’t the reason he’s (temporarily) hanging up his hat.
“I’m officially on the bench. I would like to make it clear that I put myself here and it was no one’s choice but my own,” Ganza written in a TwitLonger statement early Saturday morning, adding, “It has absolutely nothing to do with the beautiful debacle.”
Ganza’s choice to bench is rooted in soap opera-worthy drama dating back to the start of Halo Infinite’s pro season, which officially kicked off in December. At that month HCS Major in Raleigh, North Carolina, eUnited performed well, finishing second. (Cloud 9 went gold.) Two months later, at HCS Major in Anaheim, CA, eUnited came third. (Cloud 9 also won gold at this event.)
The drop in performance could be attributed to a number of factors – the performance of sports teams fluctuates all the time – but Ganza attributed it to insidious behind-the-scenes dealings by eUnited. According to Ganza, teammate Ryan “Ryanoob” Geddes lobbied to sign veteran Halo and Call of Duty pro Matt “Formal” Piper. As for who Piper would theoretically replace? Nick “KingNick” Panzella. (Panzella and Ganza are known as eUnited’s tight-knit player duo.)
In the end, eUnited never made a transaction; Panzella is still on the starting roster and Piper is currently part of Optic Gaming’s Infinite lineup, having replaced longtime Halo pro Justin “Pistola” Deese. But the damage was done.
“Since then, the whole team dynamic has taken a hit,” Ganza wrote. “We have little or no trust in each other. Trust is out the window.
Last month Major HCS in Kansas City, the most recent pro event for Halo Infinite, eUnited finished in fourth place. Ganza said that following the Kansas City event, he has since garnered interest from other Halo Infinite esports organizations, but did not specify which teams have expressed interest. Ganza’s attorney and representative, Nate Drexler, told Kotaku in a statement that Ganza held a phone meeting with eUnited last Wednesday and requested that he be released from the contract. Apparently, a member of the team’s management suite allegedly told Ganza, “I won’t let you go anywhere. You are not exchangeable. You’re not for sale, and I won’t back down and let you go anywhere. You will only play for eUnited this season.
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, eUnited confirmed that it had indeed expressed “interest” – presumably from other organizations – but had not yet received a “formal takeover offer”. Ganza called the statement “laughable”.
“Tyler has made it clear that he will not be required to perform,” Ganza’s attorney and representative Nate Drexler told Kotaku in a statement. “We have seen that before from him. He doesn’t want to be silenced and he doesn’t want to be forced to play. We hope to find a solution that gives him the opportunity to play in a more favorable situation with another organization.
In a tweet, Ganza mentioned his demands amounted to having Geddes kicked off the starting roster. Geddes did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.
The whole situation has sparked a bit of a PR fire for eUnited, which has recently made inroads as one of Halo’s biggest pro teams. Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeSpartan gained momentum on Twitter. (Some fans misinterpreted it as #FreeSpartywho: lol.) On Reddit, Halo esports fans seem to get it the business motivations behind these decisions, but largely say they would rather see eUnited let Ganza go to another team. Like noted by Hayden Oberg of Dexetro, there’s even cross-discipline support for Ganza: a handful of professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive players have publicly lent their support.
In the interest of “objectivity” and “fairness” and those other journalistic “values”, it’s probably not for me to pass judgment here. But if you ask me as a simple person, yes, based on the information that’s publicly available, I guess I don’t see why eUnited can’t let him go. Dude is clearly not happy at eUnited and the team’s performance has steadily declined over the season, seemingly as a direct result of clashing personalities. At this point, unless, say, the contractual details are revealed, it seems like a small decision at best. And it’s not just Ganza who loses here! He’s really fun to watch in competition; ensuring he can’t play for the rest of the season means viewers lose out too. Additionally, letting him go to another organization could give eUnited management a chance to build a roster with better synergy. (Deese, for what it’s worth, says he is “grinding and staying in Halo shape for any opportunities that arise in the future.”)
Anyway, here’s Ganza and Drexler’s statement in full:
On May 14, Tyler announced he was benching. Tyler received strong interest from another Halo organization and asked his organization if he could be released from his contract as he was unhappy with his current situation. A few days before the Anaheim LAN tournament, Tyler discovered that his organization was trying to get one of his teammates replaced without his knowledge. Subsequently, the team lost its cohesion and Tyler based his decision on his inability to perform under the circumstances.
Regarding the contract, eUnited stated unequivocally that they would not move Tyler, then curiously announced that they were working with Tyler and trying to find a solution that worked best for all parties. We are contractually obligated not to provide details of the eUnited contract, but several attorneys are reviewing the contract as we believe certain terms are impermissible and oppressive.
Tyler made it clear he wouldn’t be forced to play. We have already seen this from him. He doesn’t want to be silenced and he doesn’t want to be forced to play. We hope to find a solution that gives him the opportunity to play in a more favorable situation with another organization.
Tyler was on the phone with eUnited last Wednesday. The call was on loudspeaker and it has a witness who can attest that the EU leadership said: ‘I won’t let you go anywhere. You are not exchangeable. You’re not for sale, and I won’t back down and let you go anywhere. You will only play for eUnited this season. If I have to bench you for 4-5 months and give you replacement pay and you’ll be out of Orlando and Worlds. I have done this to other players before and will do it to you.
Oddly enough, the EU management told Tyler and myself (with another lawyer present) that they would “never” retain a player from their organization who didn’t want to be there. This was before the signing of the contract. He said that to Tyler on the phone. He told me on the phone, and at the time he told me there was a second attorney on the same call. He gave assurances.
That said, the change in posture is alarming and unprofessional and we will continue to review the contract and seek all available remedies available to Tyler. In the meantime, he will continue to sit on the bench being paid next to nothing, and we will continue to monitor offers from other organizations.
Drexler added that he spoke to eUnited, which is “always looking for trades [or] takeovers that will be mutually beneficial to all parties. Representatives for eUnited did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.
Article source https://kotaku.com/halo-infinite-pro-tyler-spartan-ganza-eunited-benching-1848933234