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ESIC commissioner Ian Smith releases detailed report clearing NiP's management

Aditya Singh Rawat
5/Sep/2019 01:06 pm

Cover Image Courtesy: Ninjas in Pyjamas | Thumbnail Image Courtesy: Ninjas in Pyjamas

A day after handing over his report to WESA, Ian Smith - sports lawyer and commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), has released a detailed report that dissects the allegations made against Ninjas in Pyjamas by Fifflaren, Niklas Fischier and others. The report is an outcome of him being commissioned by the World Esports Association (WESA) of which NiP is a member, to examine the complaints and the status of their resolution. He includes a caveat that the material relevant to this case were exhaustive and while the need for a quick public outcome was essential, he would ideally require more time to be absolutely definitive about his findings.


A Quick Summary Of The Investigative Report

Through a detailed twelve-page report, he concludes that a bulk of the criticism against the Stockholm Esports Productions AB (hereinafter referred to as Oldco) through its bankruptcy and the early years of Ninjas in Pyjamas Gaming AB (hereinafter referred to as Newco) is justified. However, he also states that the extension of that criticism, by speculation and insinuation, to the current iteration of Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) is not justified.

Complaints Undertaken


The following were some of the prominent complaints which Ian Smith resolved through the investigation. 

Allegation
Complainant
ESIC Findings

Players owed money from tournaments in 2013

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson

True.

Former management moved money from Oldco to Newco

Niklas Fischier

No evidence found on this matter.

Players not allowed to have girlfriends

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson

Did not spend much time on this. No such rule exists today.

That the previous COO of Newco had been fired without the Board’s knowledge and that HC has told the Board that the COO had quit

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson

Clear from the documents that the board was involved and informed throughout. Could not find any evidence of wrongdoing by the company.

A suspicion that the company or someone in the company misappropriated charity money from a PayPal account

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson


&


Richard Lewis

Found very little evidence related to this. The complaint is not relevant to the present NiP. Beyond the scope of this investigation unless someone submits concrete proof rather than speculations.

That there is a NiP player in Sweden without a current Visa

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson

False.

That the Fortnite roster was not paid

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson


&


Richard Lewis

No economic settlement needs to be made. The matter stands resolved as far as the records and interviews with management have to say.

Hicham Chihane (HC) resigned from the Board of Xtrfy as a result of allegations against him and NiP

Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson

False.HC resigned from the Xtrfy Board in May 2019. Paperwork was finalized in July 2019. Allegations arose in July and August. 

Xizt's departure wasn’t handled well

Richard ‘Xizt’ Landstrom

All complaints of this nature will be treated as normal and natural. Documentation indicates that there was a three-way deal between Xizt, Faze and NiP and all parties were in agreement at the time.

Friberg's departure wasn’t handled well

Adam ‘friberg’ Friberg

NiP have done nothing wrong with respect to this complaint. Friberg failed to meet contractual obligations with respect to streaming on Twitch. NiP lost 19,862.50 USD as a result which was withheld from friberg at the time of financial settlement with the player.

[Private Complaint]

Mikail ‘Maikelele’ Bill

Not a legitimate complaint as per a legal perspective.

HC refused to pay half of the Dota 2 team's manager's salary and she had to sue NiP and to receive a payout

Michelle Knudsen

False. The case was resolved.

Multiple allegations about HC not fulfilling promises and treating him poorly

Kevin Mikkelsen

Little concrete evidence to go on since much of the communication was verbal. From a legal perspective, matters are resolved.

Misled about payments and jobs at NiP as a graphic designer

Mara Designs

The bulk of the complaints were morally, if not legally, justified.

Poor treatment of a volunteer social media community liaison

Benji Janssen

This complaint was morally, if not legally, justified.

Volunteer misled and mistreated about paid positions in NiP

[Private Complainant]

The matter is resolved, but it is true that Oldco's behaviour was poor with regard to this person.

Poor handling of Crunch release from NiP PUBG roster

Adam ‘Crunch’ Escobar

This was handled poorly by NiP, the manager was unprofessional and NiP have held their hands up to that publicly.

Not paid prize winnings from 2014

K0u

This complaint was valid. He was paid the correct amount on the 9th of August 2019.

As a final statement related to all the complaints, Ian Smith goes on to say that,

“It is clear that the period up to early 2014 under Oldco was shambolic for a number of reasons. Similarly, the period 2014/15 at Newco was poor. The tax decisions shed some light on this. It is altogether a good thing for NiP that the people central to that period are no longer involved with the company, except, Hicham Chahine.”




Hicham Chahine Involvement

According to the report, Ian Smith makes the following point about Hicham Chahine (HC),


It is Crystal clear that HC was not involved in day-to-day management before 2016.

HC was an investor trying to be as involved as he could manage to protect his investment, but nowhere near enough or with enough cooperation from former management to do that effectively.

HC has enough power to veto major decisions, but not enough voting power to push them through. Being a shareholder, as in most other economies, was not involved in the daily running of an entity and that is exactly the case through 2014-15.

HC being an investor would be present to watch games at some events over the years. He also tried setting up monthly calls to ensure his money was being well used. These frequent attempts have been misconstrued by Fifflaren and others as evidence of actual daily management.

When problems arose in 2015-16, the former management was removed and HC came in as CEO, pumping a considerable amount of additional money into NiP. It is worth noting that HC has put more than SEK 7 Million of his own money into NiP since Feb 2014.

After stating his case against HC, Ian Smith goes on to say that,

“At the end of 2015, the company was just 5 players, a coach and two staff. Today almost 50 people work with the company with offices in Stockholm, Landskrona, Berlin and Sao Paulo. They have a solid investor base and have clearly shown significant growth while developing professionalisation. My own assessment is that HC saved NiP from bankruptcy in 2016.”


Based on his investigation, Ian Smith also believes that he has "seen nothing to indicate that HC and NiP management and staff are doing anything other than their best to move NiP forward in a responsible and professional way."

“I hope the report goes some way to restoring balance to what has been a very unbalanced attack on NiP and has had a very detrimental effect on NiP’s standing as a legacy organization in the esports community of 2019.”

NOTE: To read the complete report submitted by Ian Smith click HERE.



WESA Statement


Soon after, WESA took cognizance of this report and released a statement of their own where they state that,

"WESA Commissioner Pietro Fringuelli concluded that the activities of Ninjas in Pyjamas and Hicham Chahine do not merit any formal consequences. Therefore, NiP will remain a full member of WESA and Hicham Chahine will continue to sit on the WESA Executive Board." 

Mr Pietro also went on to state that,

“WESA has taken the allegations against NiP very seriously and will continue to offer a platform for a fair and independent review of allegations against our member teams in accordance with WESA’s industry-leading regulatory framework.”

NOTE: To read WESA's complete report click HERE.



It was certainly a great call to action by WESA and an overall professional investigation done by Ian Smith. But NiP being a part of WESA and HC being on its executive board had some people from the industry doubting the whole thing.

For now, everything seems to have fallen in place for NiP as most of the blame rests on Oldco while a few problems point towards the interim period of 2014-2016, where Hicham Chahine is being hailed as the saviour of NiP as it exists today.



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Aditya Singh Rawattwitter_link

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Aditya Singh Rawat is the in-house CS:GO editor at AFK Gaming. While his understanding of the esports space is not restricted by geographical borders, his current focus lies in the Asian region. Understands and follows almost all major esport titles.