Paradigm has been effectively banned from fielding future Smite teams by Hi-Rez Studios after the developers were forced to mediate contract discussions which saw players refusing a $1 salary.
The best LoL players in the world aren't being offered that sort of salary. Just saying.
The dispute had reportedly been raging for more than a week as Paradigm's players were being asked to sign a contract by management before competing in any more Pro League matches.
The team, currently second in Europe's Fall Split, was told on Tuesday of this week by Paradigm's legal representative David Fry: "You will sign your contract, today, or you won't play. That simple."
Details of the contract released by carry player Jeroen "Xaliea" Klaver in a TwitLonger yesterday show that the deal the players were being told to accept was for a salary of $1 per month, with a 75% share of tournament winnings (after tax and travel expenses) and 0% of in-game merchandise sales.
Further chat logs between team captain Emil "Lawbster" Evensen and manager Lydia Picknell suggest the original spark of conflict within the organisation had been miscalculated tax costs as a result of incorporating the organisation as a Canadian business.
Prior to these details coming to light, Paradigm issued a statement in which management claimed the players had been the source of conflict in the negotiations.
"Players wanted to keep it as a 100% split of earnings to themselves, without helping Paradigm pay business expenses, while management wanted to grow the organization," the statement reads. "Players were given plenty of negotiations and contract options which were all rejected over three months. Players then chose this week to look for a new sponsor without telling Paradigm in advance and asked us to hand over the spot to the captain. We were open to selling the spot but needed the cooperation of the players to find them a good deal out of respect for their hard work. They did not work with us and instead turned extremely hostile."
After learning of the impasse in negotiations on September 2, Hi-Rez began to mediate the discussion and investigate the circumstances of the failure in reaching agreeable terms.
"On September 5, 2016, we received information that Paradigm was demanding the Players sign contracts with grossly unfavorable terms," a competitive ruling released by the company states. "Before we were able to complete our investigation, Paradigm sent us an electronic demand letter on September 7, 2016, which alleged contractual and tort claims against us based, in part, on [a] temporary freeze. Then, on September 8, 2016, Paradigm went public, stating that it would be withdrawing from SMITE “[n]o matter what the outcome” was of our investigation. We concluded our investigation later that evening."
The conclusion Hi-Rez reached is to award the SPL slot to the players, who are now in discussions with another organisation Team Orbit, while effectively asking Paradigm not to return to Smite.
"We also kindly request that Paradigm abstain from involvement in any future eSports events or competitions hosted by or related to us, including those for SMITE and Paladins," the ruling concludes with.
Paradigm currently has an Overwatch team, a Paladins team (the future of which is unclear) and a Pokken Tournament player, though the entire organisation's future is uncertain as owner, Picknell, has expressed doubts about staying in the industry.
"I am going to be taking a few weeks to figure out what I want to do with my career going forward," she wrote in a since-deleted statement. "I don't know if I am built for esports - I am far too nice, naive, and trust the wrong people repeatedly."