Dota 2 Stars Arena and Solid Dota 2 Challenge – two tournaments organized by Chris Lombard – have yet to pay out $9,000 in prize money to the winning teams despite having received the funds from sponsors. All four winning teams – ProDota Gaming, Flipsid3 Tactics, Power Rangers and Danish Bears – have confirmed that the organizer has failed to pay or respond to any attempt at contact since the tournaments concluded. LootMarket, one of the sponsors, has also confirmed that Lombard was paid the $4,000 prize pool for Solid Dota 2 Challenge.
For the teams that miss out on the bigger prize pools of The International, the Majors and other premium LAN events, online tournaments are the ideal platform and the most common place for players to gain their earnings and momentum.
The process is simple. The organizer contracts with a sponsor. Teams compete against each other. People tune in to watch them play. Some teams win and then are paid. The sponsor pays the organizer – who in turn pays the teams. Or doesn’t.
ProDota Gaming won Dota 2 Stars Arena and were supposed to receive $3,000. PR seemingly secured a handsome $2,000 for the second place in the same competition.
A few weeks later, Flipsid3 Tactics (then known as !Rebels!) won the Solid Dota 2 Challenge. The CIS team was anticipating a $2,500 prize, while the runners-up, Danish Bears, were counting on their $1,500 share.
What do those four teams have in common? They’ve competed in different tournaments organized by the same person – a seemingly well intentioned guy who didn’t raise any red flags at first, but disappeared without a trace when it came to paying out the owed prize money.
Both Dota 2 Stars Arena and Solid Dota 2 Challenge were organized by the same person, Chris Lombard, in March and April, respectively.
At the time, Chris Lombard was not a known figure in the scene. It has become almost a commonplace of the Dota 2 scene for smaller online tournaments ran by new faces to pop up all over the place.
When Lombard approached ProDota Gaming, Power Rangers, Flipsid3 Tactics (then known as !Rebels!) and Danish Bears, none of the teams hesitated to accept the invites to his events. They didn’t question Lombard’s legitimacy, as valid sponsors such as LootMarket and GameKit were already in place. LootMarket sponsored Solid Dota 2 Challenge, providing the $4,000 prize pool, while GameKit handed over the $5,000 prize fund for Dota 2 Stars Arena.
A normally responsive and active organizer during the course of the events, Lombard has since become unresponsive and Missing in Action.
For smaller online events, most teams typically get their prize money in 30 days upon the tournament’s completion. When that time came and went, the teams started making inquiries, and rightfully so.
ProDota Gaming manager Ivan “Ivan” Karpov has told DotaBlast that he has tried multiple times to make contact with Chris Lombard. According to Karpov, Lombard told him earlier in May that the sponsor, GameKit, had deposited the owed prize money directly into the bank account provided by the team. Since the money didn’t go through, ProDota Gaming reached out to Lombard again, but to no avail.
ProDota Gaming owner and CEO Maxym “Max” Dyakonyuk has stated:
Unfortunately, there is nothing to say. Everything is crystal clear – it’s just simply fraud.
Power Rangers manager Nikita “BigStar” Shastakou has confirmed that his team has also not been paid or managed to have any contact with Chris Lombard.
Flipsid3 Tactics and Danish Bears are in the very same situation, but for a different tournament. After trying to seek out Lombard, they went directly to LootMarket to track down their earnings. LootMarket provided them with proof of paying Chris Lombard via PayPal almost immediately upon the tournament’s completion.
It is sad that things that were happening in 2012-2014, when we were more heavily involved in Dota, still persist. It is my advise to any sponsors of smaller, less reputable events to make sure their money goes straight to the players. As a tournament organizer myself in Dota (long ago) and other games (CSGO, SF5), if a sponsor took responsibility for paying players it would be a load off. You can de-compartmentalize your production staff from your players via sponsor payouts. You can use one to pay players and one to pay yourselves (for a very easy example). Sponsors who do not want to be involved in this mess should focus more on making sure their names do not end up in these situations. I feel for LootMarket in this situation and I feel terrible for our players. As a community, I think it’s time we start forcing newer organizations who want to run tournaments to do it our way and not the other way around. It is 2016 and it is absolutely embarrassing that this continues.
– Hector “Frost” Rosario, Flipsid3 Tactics owner and CEO
LootMarket has no basis on which to dispute the transaction or request a refund from PayPal or the organizer, since Lombard upheld his end of the agreement. Kevin Wimer, LootMarket CEO, explains:
Our agreement with Chris Lombard was pretty simple. We pay him for a certain set of deliverables / exposure (overlays, links, on-air site usage, etc). He was pretty easy to work with and the results were great for us. I’m not sure how we can help to prevent this from happening in the future, since compensation to the winners falls outside of the scope of our involvement. I can assure everyone that we will not be cooperating with Mr. Lombard again for any events.
DotaBlast has reached out to Chris Lombard and has not yet received a response.
Notorious cases of tournament organizers gone rogue
While Valve maintains a permissive free market approach, not holding any exclusivity rights to tournaments, anyone with money or a plan can submit a request to Valve for an in-game ticket and hold an online or LAN event. The process is relatively simple and open to all.
The results can be detrimental to the players when an event is organized by someone with bad intentions, looking to make a quick dollar or milk the cash cow.
- Back when he was playing for Basically Unknown, Ionuț “Ar1sE” Turtoi talked to DotaBlast about the challenges of being on a sponsorless team:
Basically Unknown did not have a sponsor, nor did we win a lot of tournament money. For a group of younger, starting players financial security is very important, it generates confidence and motivation. Not only did we not have a sponsor, but also most of the tournaments that we’ve won so far have yet to pay the prize money, some being delayed longer than three months.
- A year ago, Burden United, 4 Clovers and Lepricon and London Conspiracy were invited to attend DOT.Fair – a LAN tournament featuring $15,000 cash prizes. The organizers decided to pull the plug on the event, leaving the teams to foot the bill.
It is not always the smaller, sponsorless teams that are affected.
- Major All Stars failed to pay champions Invictus Gaming, after more than a year since the tournament’s completion.
- Infamously, WCA has yet to pay out prize money owed for tournaments held in June and December of 2015.
Alliance won the WCA 2015 in December and is entitled to a prize of $370,200. According to the team’s former manager, Kelly Ong Xiao Wei, the prize had not been paid as of March. Jimmy “Demon” Ho was a part of the Summer’s Rift lineup that took first place in the Americas Pro Qualifiers, in June 2015, and should have received the $50,000 first place prize. According to Ho, that didn’t happen either, more than eight months later.
DotaBlast reached out to WCA for clarification two months ago, but has not received an answer as of yet.