Valorant Esports Website TheSpike Owner Accused of Owing $40,000 in Payroll
Valorant esports website TheSpike has come into turmoil after current and former contractors for the website accused CEO Artur Minacov of owing more than $40,000 in back payroll for months of unpaid work.
TheSpike Employees Accuse CEO of Gross Negligence, False Promises
The news broke when writers Mostafa Hossam and Shawn “Germanicus” Heerema published Twitlongers detailing months of being unpaid for their work on the website. These allegations were retweeted by the official TheSpike Twitter, causing the allegations to go viral in the Valorant community before being picked up by the rest of the esports community, who have rallied behind Hossam and Heerema.
Heerema says he’s owed around $2500 CAD for his work during this period, and Hossam claims that he’s owed seven months worth of work.
Both allegations say that all staff have messaged Minacov on Slack and demanded back pay, or they will not cover the upcoming Valorant Masters Reykjavik until they are paid. Minacov responded to these allegations on Twitter with an odd statement, saying that “all money due by me to former and current soldiers will be taken care of.”
According to a report from Dot Esports, Minacov gave a statement saying that he is very bad with money. He stated that he had given around $400,000 of his own money to small streamers in the Valorant community over the past year, but did not comment as to why he didn’t pay his staff at TheSpike. According to former staffers, the average monthly salary for a writer on TheSpike was around $500 – a huge disparity. Minacov also came under fire for posting pictures of new and expensive cars that supposedly belong to him, after this story went viral.
The report also states that some former TheSpike contractors were paid back in April – but that came with caveats too. He had frequently been late with payments, delivering excuse after excuse, including that his ATM Card had been eaten by an ATM in Kosovo, ignoring Slack messages about payment, waiting for checks to clear, et cetera. One contractor even pointed to a currency exchange which led to a lower than promised amount for his work.
This is not the first time that Minacov has been accused of missing payments. Back in 2018, he was the CEO of Envision Esports’ Overwatch team. Staff and players at the time accused Minacov of owing thousands in back payments, which were, apparently, not paid due to frustration with Envision Esports’ “lack of results.” This wasn’t supported by reality, as the team made top-4 in the Overwatch Contenders North American division, though it is worth noting that anything below Overwatch League has been notoriously underfunded. That team disbanded following this finish, and Minacov slithered into another position in esports that’s notoriously easy to take advantage of – the media.
While players were eventually paid, when contacted for comment on this story by Dot, he mentioned that the team had “something against him,” and even referred to former coach Robert “Roflgator” Malecki as a homophobic slur.
Minacov Vows to Leave Esports
Since reports from various esports websites began to go viral, Minacov has released a statement on the situation, stating that he’s done with esports. He’s also stated that he’s selling off his equity in TheSpike, leaving operations up to another owner.
“I would like to start off by officially saying that all my dues will be taking care off as soon as I can, and I will provide the proof to the community when it happens,” Minacov stated. “I had discussions with the people involved in private, and they are aware and I would like to apologize to everyone I have wronged. I honestly just wanted to do good, and it is quite unfortunate it has to end like this. I am no longer involved at THESPIKE.GG on any capacity. I remain a shareholder for the moment, but I am not looking to stay, as I am already in discussions to sell my part and fuck off somewhere far from the community I loved and wronged. So please do not penalize the hard working people that made it possible, the writers who came forward included. All the people working on the site deserve for me to not be involved.”
TheSpike is being picked up by another owner “within esports” that “you guys will like” according to Minacov. The new owners will be paying the debts owed to various writers in the community, according to his statement.