Let's talk poaching
Let’s talk about poaching.
It’s unprofessional, affects team/org stability and creates an environment of selfishness and entitlement. It’s bad... We all know that.
Do I blame orgs who poach? No. They are acting in their own self interest and trying to make the strongest org. Do they have my respect? No.
How do I protect my org from poachers?
- Contracts *this is not legal advice, just my opinion from my experience/knowledge. Do your own research.
No... I’m not talking a 1 paragraph contract saying ‘you play for me for 3 months you stay with me yes? Sign here’ that is fucking pathetic.
Do your research and construct a contract that will hold up on small claims court (this is probably the place you will be disputing your contract if it goes south). If you don’t know how to construct a contract, get help. You don’t have to use fancy legal speak. Think of EVERY scenario that can possibly happen and write a clause for it. Be CLEAR, SPECIFIC and have MEASURABLE consequences. The broader you make your contract statements the more likely they will be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Having a clear, measurable, fair consequence for behaviours will ensure your players know exactly what will happen if they perform their duties and if they do not.
Get a subscription to adobe, write up your contract in PDF and have your players sign it digitally.
You will constantly need revisions resolve issues that you may not have thought about, adding a clause and having a player to resign is no big deal.
Ok, so you have worked hard on your contract, your players agree and they sign. Suddenly your player gets offered 5k to go to another org (yeah yeah, hypothetical... ok). They leave and you are saying...’but.... my contract... you have to stay... ‘ Player says.. ‘hahahahahahaha what you going to do? I don’t care’. Here is what you do. GROW SOME FUCKING BALLS, CALL A LAWYER, AND TAKE THEM TO COURT FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT. If you don’t have the means to do that, then stop reading here. You will get poached and you have no one to blame but yourself.
Can I guarantee that you will win? No, but if you lose you will learn a lesson about your contract and how to create a better contract for the future (if you really want to make sure it will hold up spend some $ and go talk to a lawyer about drafting a contract for your situation).
Sometimes it's not worth the effort to take someone to court. Maybe they are a sub, you were getting rid of them anyway, your contract might not hold up. Speak to the other org and try reach a smooth transition, even a simple apology from them (maybe they didn't know your player was contracted) may preserve relationships for the future. But... If you let players constantly get away with breaking contracts without some effort to communicate with you it shows to them (and to courts) that you aren't serious and they aren't binding. There is always room within a contract to adjust the terms if both parties can agree. Communication people. This goes for players as well as owners. Talk to your org if you are unhappy, work with them to solve the problem. If you cant solve a problem ask them out of your contract, if you talk to your org they will be more likely to help you work a solution. If you just break contract and try leave they will be pissed.
Create an environment where your players WANT to stay with you. Provide VALUE for your players and they will pay you back with loyalty. Sometimes they will get an offer they can’t refuse, but a happy player is not going to break contract and risk getting sued. They will at least wait until the contract is over or mediate with the orgs to discuss transfer terms. If your org provides no value and expects brand loyalty you need your head checked.
Reach out to other owners/managers and open lines of communication. HOPEFULLY this will enable discussions with management about player transfers to take place BEFORE approaching players (not always the case).
What else can help the scene move forward?
I am in the early stages of creating the ‘Oceanic Esports Council’
What is the OEC?
The Oceanic Esports Council (OEC) is a group of organisations aimed at promoting a healthy, professional, respectful environment amongst each other across all competitive game titles.
The group consists of reputable orgs of all sizes which work together to provide a clear Code of Conduct (including a player transfer process). The OEC is also a central hub for managers to find contact details. The OEC may also act as a group mediator if a dispute arises between orgs.
As Oceanic esports grows it is important to work together on some of these issues to promote a healthy environment for the future.
It is difficult to make the OEC legally binding BUT as a group we can put an immense amount of pressure on the ‘difficult’ orgs to comply and we can show the wider community that certain negative behaviours are not tolerated. This will have a flow on effect to the larger orgs losing fans, sponsors, respect to orgs who promote a supportive, positive esports environment.
If we want to move forward in the world of esports as a region these are the cooperative attitudes we need to employ.
If you made it this far. Well done.
If your org is reputable and interested in joining the OEC click the contact section of jam.gg (above) and send me a message on one of those platforms.