H1Z1 Pro League to shutter amid payment issues

H1Z1 launched its battle royale pro league in April of last year at Caesars Entertainment Studios in Las Vegas. Provided by Daybreak

The H1Z1 Pro League will close months after its April launch, according to a message sent to its teams and players from Twin Galaxies co-chairman Jace Hall obtained by ESPN on Friday.

"It's with a heavy heart that a letter has been sent to the League's team organizations providing notice that the 2nd Split has been suspended indefinitely, and that a second league season will not be renewed or scheduled at this time," Hall wrote in a group-messaging server. "As a result, teams have been immediately released from their League specific obligations."

The news comes after a number of issues within the league, including delayed payment of stipends for the league's teams, as well as incorrect visa classifications for its players, according to a report by VPEsports confirmed by ESPN.

As a part of participating in the league, each team was to receive $400,000 per year -- collectively $6 million across 15 teams, sources told ESPN. The $400,000 would be paid out in two installments: one for the first split of the year, another for the second split. Of the money provided per split, $125,000 was meant for player salaries, with the other $75,000 given for content creation and other expenses. Per the league participation agreements, those payments were due to teams seven weeks prior to the start of a league split.

The second split of the league was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, with the payment scheduled to be made by July 28.

Despite requests from its teams, the league has repeatedly failed to pay the second split stipend, sources said. Many of the league's teams -- including major esports organizations such as Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, Team Vitality, Rogue and others -- have continued to pay their players at a net loss, sources said, while their players do not compete as a result of a continual postponement of the second split.

Other teams that relied on the contractually obligated league stipend have had to stop paying their players. In September, Obey Alliance became the first team to formally withdraw from the league.

Based on the league participations agreement, the second split was required to begin at least by the end of the 2018 calendar year, no later than Dec. 31, sources said. That would obligate the league to have paid the team stipends by Monday, which according to team sources, it did not.

Despite continuous missed payments, in his message on Friday, Hall explained to the teams that the league is still working to arrange payment to its teams.

"The matter of the remaining League stipend payment is independent of this notification," Hall wrote. "Nothing has changed in that area and as discussed previously with teams, the League is still working to pay teams and resolve that matter."

In his message, Hall cites a dwindling player base and interest in H1Z1, one of the first games in the battle royale genre that has become incredibly popular on the back of Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout mode.

In April, Twin Galaxies and H1Z1 developer Daybreak Games partnered to launch the league in at the Caesar's Entertainment Studios in Las Vegas. The league paid for a significant amount of celebrity talent, including "American Ninja Warrior" host Kristine Leahy and award-winning actress Michelle Rodriguez, as well as professional live streamers Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek and Jaryd "Summit1g" Lazar.

Despite its large spend, the H1Z1 Pro League failed to gain much traction. On April 21, its first day of competition, the league saw 7,900 peak concurrent viewers on Facebook, which it signed an exclusive streaming rights deal with prior to the launch of the league.