After months of contract disputes, North American esports organization Luminosity Gaming and German team SK Gaming have settled their differences. The best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team in the world will begin competing under the SK Gaming brand starting July 1, the team's announced on their respective websites today.
The squad, led by legendary Brazilian Counter-Strike AWPer and in-game leader Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, will compete as SK Gaming at the upcoming ESL One Cologne 2016 major at the Lanxess Arena on July 8-10. The team will remain based in Los Angeles for the time being, but will regularly use SK Gaming's training facility in Cologne for practice prior to events.
The resolution of the conflict between the two teams comes after Luminosity originally accused SK Gaming of poaching and tortious interference with its players beginning this past February, as originally reported by ESPN. Prior to the Major League Gaming Columbus 2016 major tournament in March, the players in question signed a contract with SK Gaming stating that they would commence playing under the SK Gaming banner on July 1, a week after their original contracts with Luminosity would come to an end.
While that normally would not bring up any sort of predicament, Luminosity Gaming told ESPN in May that it had an outstanding letter of intent signed with the team, which awarded the team with a significant salary increase and a new gaming house, in return for an extended contract term of two years.
Although the official legal solution was not specified in today's announcements, according to Counter-Strike analyst Duncan "Thorin" Shields, SK Gaming's managing director, Alex Müller, claims that the letters of intent were found void due to Luminosity failing to provide a new contract to the players by the date specified in the letters. In turn, the Luminosity players signed with SK Gaming after SK had legal representation analyze the LOIs, stating letters of intent "always [have] an OUT."
Now, however, both teams claim to have come to an amicable agreement, with both Müller and Luminosity Gaming's CEO Steve Maida -- who at one point were at complete odds in the dispute -- claiming to have found a solution.
"We are very happy to have found a satisfactory solution for each party involved in the recent contract disputes," Müller said in the news release today. "Luminosity excels at scouting the greatest talent and we are surely going to see them on the big stage again soon. What they've been able to accomplish as an organization and team in such a short time is remarkable."
And while it's now been resolved in his and his organization's favor, Müller admits that, "This was a messy situation and neither party was completely right or wrong here."
Furthermore Maida echoes Müller's sentiment in his statement, "I'm glad that we could all come together and work out a solution. It might not have started off the best, but SK and Alex made it right in the end. I'm optimistic that SK will be a good home for the team's next chapter in CS:GO."
Before this conclusion, the players of Luminosity attempted to back out of the contracts, claiming they were misled by Müller and lawyers of SK Gaming.
Now, however, FalleN says that he's glad both teams settled their differences, and that he allowed emotions to affect his judgement as the leader of the team in this situation:
"I personally did many mistakes during this transition," FalleN said in the news release. "I let emotions take part on business decisions and that is something I regret and surely will take as a learning experience to the rest of my life. I want to say, Steve always did his best, and more than required to be more than just an owner. Travelling with us in all tournaments and sharing every moment was important to us and he is part of the family. I would like to thank Steve and LG for everything they did for us, and all the support last year."