Euan “Tadpole” Ingram is a Welsh Rocket League player who was supposed to play in the upcoming Gfinity Elite Series, but is now left without a spot. In a Twitlonger post he sheds some light on his situation during the past weeks, which paints a lot of involved parties in a bad light.
The TLDR reads something like this: Tadpole turned down an offer from Method to become their substitute player, because he had another offer from Reason Gaming on the table, giving him the possibility to play as a starter in the Gfinity Elite Series. But the higher-ups of Reason didn’t sign the contract, so when Reason announced that they’d be out of a spot in the Gfinity Elite Series, Tadpole and his two team mates saw their chance of playing the Elite Series vanish into thin air. They contacted Unilad, one of the new orgs in the upcoming Gfinity Elite Series, who were according to Tadpole very interested in signing them, but who then cut all contact and signed six other Rocket League players after two weeks of no communication.
After Tadpole published his post, the Rocket League community accused Unilad and especially their esports manager Kurtis Stocks of “disgusting” behaviour. Rocketeers.gg reached out to all involved parties in order to clear the air.
Tadpole, first of all: Sorry to hear that you won’t be able to play the upcoming Gfinity Elite Series. No matter who’s to blame for that, if it’s just a series of misunderstandings or the result of bad communication (we’ll get to that in a moment), it has to suck on an emotional level to set your mind to play such a huge tournament and then not be able to do so. How did you deal with the situation when it first unfolded? And how do you deal with it now that a couple of days have passed?
It’s very difficult to put into words how much the whole thing hurt us. When we were told about Reason losing their Elite Series place we were all obviously distraught, made even worse by the fact there wasn’t even an inclination that Reason were leaving the Elite Series, as far as we knew, we were set, and I was making travel plans on the very day we lost our contracts.
Then we were offered a bit of hope hearing that Unilad eSports wanted to talk to us, and it ended up hurting us more again. In esports people tend to forget the personal impacts that these sorts of events have, our excitement as we told our families about the contracts, the prospect of earning decent salary while trying to progress in the competitive scene, Ronaky leaving school in hopes of pursuing Rocket League in a more serious manner, and more than anything else finally putting our names out there and being proud of achieving something, all of that was taken from us in an instant with no thought for us from Gfinity.
When we were informed of Reason losing their place and our contracts becoming void, myself, Ronaky and Andom stayed in discord for quite a while and talked through our feelings, mainly of feeling let down as you’d expect, but we also spoke about where we’d go from there. Now that time is passing as a team we’re progressing every day to become one of the best teams in Europe, regardless of the Elite Series we’re looking forward to seeing just how far we can go as a team and we’ll work hard to prove ourselves and get new opportunities.
“In esports people tend to forget the personal impacts that these events have”
You put up a Twitlonger explaining your point of view on the whole situation. Let’s walk through the situation step by step, as it can be quite confusing. At first you were approached by Method. They offered you to become their sub. An opportunity you turned down, because at the same time Reason Gaming got in contact with you and wanted you to play Gfinity Elite Series for them alongside Ronaky from Denmark and Andom from Finland. Give us a little background info: How did you guys meet and how did it happen that you became a part of their Triple Trouble team?
Playing Rocket League at a high level with a relatively small pool of players means that the majority of people run into each other quite often, even just through ranked matches, and this is very much the case for myself in relation to my teammates. Before Andom joined the original Triple Trouble roster alongside Ronaky and Kassio I hadn’t seen much of him as a player, but with the results that their roster of three picked up in such a small space of time it was clear to see that all three had potential to grow not only into a solid competitive team but even the potential of becoming professional players. I first noticed Ronaky’s skill level during RLCS Season 4, prior to this I had played against him countless times in tournaments, every time a close series. I ended up playing against him and his team at that time in the Top 128 Qualifier of RLCS, he impressed me a huge amount in that series, and kept my respect ever since.
We’re through to top 128, thank you to everyone who supported myself and @RonakyRL‘s streams, here’s one of Ronaky’s brilliant defensive plays that helped us get through!https://t.co/fkKqKNAema
— Euan ‘Tadpole’ Ingram ??????? (@TadpoleRL) 25. Februar 2018
When the Triple Trouble roster of Ronaky, Andom and Kassio were offered a contract with Reason Gaming in the Elite Series, they were left in a tough spot when they realised that Kassio was not able to travel to the Elite Series or other major events such as Dreamhack. With that said, Ronaky and Andom were left to either lose out on a huge opportunity, or find a new third player to join them, enabling them to play the Elite Series, they decided on the latter, and I was the first player that Ronaky approached. As much as I would love to be a part of an organisation of Method’s stature one day, it was a clear and obvious decision for me to join Ronaky and Andom, I had followed their teams impressive results over the weeks previous and I was extremely grateful to have Ronaky offer me the spot with them. Since that day we’ve had some impressive results of our own in both tournaments and scrims and we look forward to becoming a better team together.
So, obviously a starter position in the Elite Series for Reason sounded better to you than being a sub, even if it would be as sub for an established org such as Method. Were the Method guys angry about your decision or could they understand it?
It was Method captain Rix Ronday that I was in contact with during this time, Rix approached me regarding the sub spot obviously knowing that I was from the UK and that it was possible for me to travel to the event each week. Another factor outside of the Elite Series was that if I was to join Method I would also miss out on RLRS Qualifiers, as I would also be down as the Method substitute for that.
Rix was very understanding of the situation I was in at the time and respectfully gave me enough time to sort it all out, he was disappointed that I had decided to go for the Reason contract as they were looking to build the strongest team they could, and I very much appreciate Rix, Borito B & Shakahron for offering me the role they did, if it had been any other time I’d be Method’s substitute now, but I couldn’t turn down a starter role with a very good team and I hope they understand the decision I made.
We leave the @Gfinity #EliteSeries as Rocket League and franchise champions. It was a great 2-season run and we enjoyed every minute of it. Best of luck to @UNILAD – Do our spot proud! pic.twitter.com/2cbFeEuLht
— Reason Gaming (@ReasonGaming) 13. Februar 2018
Unfortunately the deal with Reason fell through. They had – for some reason – lost their Gfinity Elite Series spot. Was that something to be expected or did it come out of the blue for you and the guys who run Reason Gaming?
As aforementioned, the news that Reason had lost their place in the Elite Series came out of nowhere. At the time we figured the meeting would be regarding either travel plans for the Media Day, or about the planned announcement of the Rocket League team which was planned for the day of the meeting. Within 30 seconds everything had changed and we were without an organisation, contract and place in the Elite Series. This was also a similar situation for our manager Josh, who had found out about the news earlier that day and it also cost him his own place within Reason Gaming.
“I apologise to Reason for the negative press I’ve given them with this story”
How did Reason handle the situation from your point of view?
This is a difficult question to answer without more information regarding the Reason Gaming/Unilad eSports switch from either the organisations themselves or Gfinity. However, if this huge change in the Elite Series went through as swiftly as Reason have made out to us, then I cannot fault them, Josh Raven was both very informative and extremely accommodating to us in the aftermath, even going as far as to contact new organisations on our behalf. If it is the case that it was out of their control, I wish Reason all the best in growing as an organisation outside of the Elite Series and apologise for the negative press I’ve given them with this story.
Contacting Reason Gaming
Rocketeers.gg reached out to Reason Gaming to hear their thoughts on the matter. So far Reason has not responded to our interview request. We will add their statement as soon as we hear back from them. They responded to Tadpole’s initial post with a couple of tweets though. Here’s their take on the whole affair:
Us losing our spot in the Elite Series was a big of a shock to you as it was to us. It’s a shame Unilad didn’t pick you up along with our SFV roster but we did everything in our power to try and make it happen. Best of luck in the future.
— Reason Gaming (@ReasonGaming) 28. Februar 2018
As an organisation, as soon as we found out our number 1 priority was to alert the players. Everyone was told within around 15 hours of us finding out. The transition was so fast we still have whiplash.
— Reason Gaming (@ReasonGaming) 28. Februar 2018
The Elite Series is slightly different as the spots are franchises and so Gfinity have almost complete control over who can use the spots.
— Reason Gaming (@ReasonGaming) 28. Februar 2018
Players don’t really “earn” a spot in the Elite Series though. For the main teams there is no qualification stage, they need to be picked up by a franchise.
— Reason Gaming (@ReasonGaming) 28. Februar 2018
Apparently you had signed your contracts but the higher-ups of Reason hadn’t done the same, meaning that the contract was void. Were you aware of the fact that they still hadn’t signed the contract?
We knew that the contracts hadn’t been countersigned, I signed my own contract 4-5 days before Reason lost their Elite Series place, Josh told me at time he received my contract that the owner of Reason Gaming needed to sign the contracts before the announcement was made, obviously this signature never arrived with Reason losing their place in the Elite Series to Unilad eSports.
How long have you been in negotiations with them over the contract?
Personally I hadn’t been in talks with Reason long at all, however this wasn’t a surprise at all given the fact that in reality I had just taken Kassio’s place in the roster with the exact same contract, if anything it made negotiations easier as I live in South Wales as opposed to Kassio travelling from France.
The reason it all fell through, is because Reason lost their Gfinity Elite Series spot. In your post you assume that Reason’s spot in the Gfinity Elite Series was bought by Unilad. Is that confirmed? Is there proof or is it just a suspicion you have?
It’s a complete suspicion from me, there is no evidence for it whatsoever, other than the fact that I cannot think of any other reason that Gfinity would change out one organisation for another so close to the event, especially when it’s apparent that not only Reason Gaming did not want to leave the Elite Series but it’s also apparent that from the replies of Unilad’s head of eSports that as an organisation they have bigger financial capabilities. It seems to me that Gfinity have a lot to answer for.
Rocketeers.gg contacted Gfinity Elite Series to get a statement regarding the whole situation. This is what a Gfinity spokesperson mailed us following our request:
“The search for and recruitment of players is the business of the teams. Wherever possible, we work with all franchises to ensure that any released players looking for a new team have the best possible opportunity to find one.”
We replied with follow-up questions about whether or not Reason’s spot was bought by Unilad, but haven’t heard back from Gfinity yet.
Your contact over at Reason, a manager called Josh, got you in contact with Unilad. Did you at that point suspected that they had bought the spot?
When Josh had the initial meeting with Unilad eSports none of the Reason teams were told who the organisation actually was, only that he was talking to the “new organisation” that had taken Reason Gaming’s place, Josh remained professional in not releasing who the organisation were to us until the public announcement from Gfinity was made. It was at the time of this announcement that we entered the Twitter group alongside Kurtis from Unilad and Joel from Gfinity.
What was your initial impression: Was Kurtis for sure interested in signing you guys as Unilad’s Rocket League team?
The initial meeting between Josh and Unilad was to discuss the prospect of Unilad eSports picking up the teams that Reason had given contracts to. This was proven to be even more true now that Unilad have signed the Street Fighter players originally signed to Reason Gaming. After the previously mentioned meeting Josh informed us of the positivity of the meeting, and we were placed in a Twitter group chat with Kurtis Stocks (Head of eSports at Unilad) and Joel Darby (a franchise lead and coordinator for Gfinity) which, subconsciously at the very least, gave us more hope that there was a good chance we could have serious talks with them regarding contracts, especially considering at this point they had approached no other team to our knowledge and that Joel’s job revolves around monitoring talks between organisations in the Elite Series and the players/teams their interested in.
Kurtis then messaged us, asking for our preferred method of communication and that we could work out a time, in his words “tomorrow ideally”, to talk through things. This was the last communication we received from Kurtis or Unilad eSports until Kurtis’ replied to my tweet on the 28th February, over two weeks and a team announcement later.
So coming up first we are pleased to announce our #RocketLeague team for Season 3. Welcome to the UNILAD team @CalixRL, @FluxRL_, @Speed_Rl, @tehdaRL, @Caro__RL and @Jnr_LFT! #LetsGo
— UNILAD Esports (@UNILADEsports) 27. Februar 2018
They signed six players, but not one of you guys. Was that the first time it became clear that you won’t be playing for Unilad?
Over time it became more and more obvious that Unilad not only were not interested in the Triple Trouble roster, but didn’t really care about the Rocket League team they were going to pick up as a whole. It should be out there that since the announcement of Unilad’s Rocket League team I’ve had confirmation and evidence from another high level ‘bubble’ team, Placebo (Godsmilla, Al Dente & Mccluvin), that Kurtis had approached them and asked them for a form of communication in a similar manner to how he did to us, and then also completely ignored the messages passed this point despite Godsmilla’s numerous attempts to contact him.
Godsmilla even went as far as to offer advice on who to pick up if it wasn’t to be his own team Placebo, which was also seen but yet again never replied to. Upon seeing the evidence of these messages I also noticed that the thread of messages began on February 13th, the EXACT same date that Kurtis and Joel began their group with our roster.
I’ve been accused of so much today who knows at this point, one minute its i didn’t respond, one minutes its we got reason kicked out, one minute its i was looking for a cheaper deal. I don’t owe anything.
— Kurtis Stocks (@Apoccc) 1. März 2018
Your TwitLonger got a lot of feedback and spawned quite some online debate between you, many Rocket League fans and Kurtis Stocks from Unilad. Did you expect that the community would pick up on that story that quickly?
I expected a backlash to it, the Rocket League community has unfortunately had a lot of experience in it’s time with unprofessionalism from organisations that have joined it. Kurtis not being able to reply to the tweet or any other questions by others in a serious or even remotely professional manner went a long way to proving my point of Unilad eSports lack of overall professionalism over the passed few weeks.
A lot of the people who got involved with the tweet also realise how much time and effort players go through to get to the level where paid contracts are even a possibility, so they know how hard we’ve worked to get an opportunity like this and they understand to a big extent how much the whole thing would have done to us in an emotional sense.
Rocket League is quite different to other esports out there, it’s not like your stereotypical FPS or MOBA games. Rocket League began as an indie game that the community as well as Psyonix had to develop to get to where it is now, the Rocket League community, as much as it has problems, is very close and everyone cares about the development of both the game and the esports side of it. So was I surprised about the reaction the tweet got? Definitely not, but it was extremely humbling and gave me a brand new respect for the community as a whole.
“It gave me brand new respect for the community”
Kurtis says that you guys didn’t have a confirmed follow-up meeting. Is it possible that you might have misread the initial situation and over-interpreted their interest?
I wouldn’t say over-interpreted would have been the correct term, at the end of the day if we had been told that they weren’t interested in us as a roster we would have had to come to terms with it, and moved on. With that said, it was more that it was dragged on with Unilad.
In hindsight, is there any part that you’d like to have done differently? Has there been a moment where you guys could’ve handled the situation better to prevent the end result?
I don’t think there’s any other way myself or my teammates Ronaky or Andom could have acted differently towards either organisation, we acted in a professional manner at all times until all rosters were confirmed for each Elite Series team, even enabling Ronaky to sign for ARES in the draft allowing him to at least experience the Elite Series. Personally I could have kept on the discussion in the aftermath of the tweet itself but there was nothing we could have done differently prior this point, we were absolutely powerless in both losing our contracts and what team Unilad eSports would eventually decide on.
What are your plans for your Rocket League career after this setback? Will you continue to play with Ronaky and Andom?
Myself, Andom and Ronaky will continue playing and developing as a team under the Triple Trouble name, our first main focus will be RLRS Qualification on 11th March, regardless of whether we make RLRS that day or not we’ll evaluate all of our options after that point. At this time we’re all enjoying playing with each other and believe we can prove ourselves as competitive Rocket League players as we were hoping to do in the Elite Series.
After our interview with Tadpole we also reached out to Kurtis Stocks and Unilad to give them the chance to share their point of view. Initially, Kurtis said that he’d surely answer some questions if we send them over. Here’s what we wanted to know:
– There’s been a heated discussion on Twitter about recent events surrounding your engagement in the Rocket League scene. How have you experienced the past days?
– How and when did you first get in contact with Tadpole and the rest of the Triple Trouble roster?
– Tadpole says you guys had a confirmed follow-up meeting, which you deny. Have you ever had any interest in signing the Triple Trouble roster?
– If not: Do you have any idea why he might have come out of your initial meeting with the interpretation that you guys have strong interest in signing their team?
– There’s the suspicion floating around that Unilad bought Reason’s Gfinity Elite Series spot. Is that just an untrue accusation or the truth?
– In hindsight: In how far could you have handled the situation better, so that it wouldn’t have escalated the way it now has?
– You recently signed 6 Rocket League players. Please tell me a bit about your new roster and what your goals are with this team.
– Are you afraid that the Twitter drama might have an impact on your new players and also on the way the Rocket League community sees and welcomes them to upcoming tournaments?
After sending over our questions, Kurtis told us, that they would be forwarded to Unilad’s PR team. Unfortunately, a couple of hours later Kurtis messaged us: “PR team have told me to decline”, which is why we are not able to provide you with Unilad’s point of view on the whole situation.
Off to a bad start
In the meantime, the community seems furious. If you browse through the responses on Tadpole’s initial post, the majority of them are quite negative towards Unilad (and Gfinity for that matter). We can only assume that Unilad pictured their entry in the competitive Rocket League scene quite differently. As orgs such as Mock-it have learned in the past, the community can be pretty unforgiving. Unilad are certainly off to a bad start.
This really goes to show how some orgs out their literally don’t care about the players, and sometimes I get the feeling that they ain’t even in it because they love the game, only go get money out of it. You will get picked up by a good organisation, only time will tell. GL Bro.
— GrundyRL (@JakeGrundy5) 28. Februar 2018
The new mock it ?
— Shotts (@Shottssss) 28. Februar 2018
There needs to be a code of conduct for orgs and players in esports, this a part of regular sports. If devs or leagues want this to be truly successful they need to have procedures in place for handling these issues. It’s a shame you had to go through this. Look forward mate
— Nate (@nategraphics) 28. Februar 2018
Just goes to show how untrustworthy some people and orgs can be tbh, sorry to hear this man don’t let it effect you playing, especially since ive known you for so long. Keep working hard and things will open up ❤?
— FlamE (@FlamE_RL) 28. Februar 2018
I don’t understand all the politics at gfins end but how they can just swap an org for another last minute.. It seems ridiculous especially with reason being last seasons winners. Just a lot of people being screwed over so someone can make a few extra bucks smh.
— Exst (@ExstRL) 28. Februar 2018
Lead Image: Tadpole (in the middle) at Dreamhack; Credit: Jennika Ojala / Dreamhack