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