Clash Tournaments part ways with M2K and Armada over controversial EMP sponsorship
Empire Arcadia have long been a controversial name in the world of competitive fighting games, with stories circulating about shady practice and no small amount of speculation concerning their operation from people with less-than complete knowledge, but today’s news that Clash Tournaments have ended their relationship with two star players they shared with EMP, Jason ‘Mew2King’ Zimmerman and Adam ‘Armada’ Lindgren, has created a new fan furore. Rather than gathering all the rumours into a messy post, we went straight to CT’s own Mark ‘ChiboSempai’ Korsak to bring you to the heart of the matter.
Hello Mark, thanks for talking to us. First up, the decision to release M2K and Armada was based partly on recent reporting on EMP, or so we understand. Have you have any issues with EMP personally, or as an org recently?
I haven't had many issues with them personally recently, I've tried to keep my distance with them. I've tried my best to work with them on a professional level through Mew2King and Armada without it getting to me, though eventually it got to be a lot.
I feel like I was able to view the relationship between Mew2King and EMP personally from an unbiased position (not the most unbiased I suppose, but at least since I wasn't directly involved), and after a while it was not something I could support anymore personally.
Triforce also once said (I believe last year) that it was time to get me in contact with Nintendo, though that never happened. The only reason I mention this here is because he posted this publicly on Facebook trying to bring hype and attention to it, though I was skeptical. Nothing did ever come from that.
One rumour circulating is that you wanted M2K to move away from EMP, but he said he wouldn't/couldn't due to a contract, can you comment on that?
Ah yes, as I mentioned earlier EMP eventually became a thing I did not want to or feel safe with supporting with Mew2King. I worked for a long time in tandem with EMP for Mew2King, as you often saw him recognized as CT EMP Mew2King, not CT Mew2King or EMP Mew2King. I did this not for the benefit of CT, but for Mew2King, as I wanted what was best for him and to follow what he wanted.
Things began to change though as time went on. Some news sites such as EventHubs refused to put the CT tag in front of his name, and he showed up at Apex all three days (earlier this January, the largest Smash tournament in history) in an EMP shirt rather than his usual CT one - without first asking me or bringing it to my knowledge. Sort of felt like I was instead funding an EMP player, right?
Between this change in trend that was continuing to happen along with a new direction I'm heading in for the CT company, I couldn't let it continue the same way. I never forced anyone to leave CT or EMP, though some plans with the players that were made prior to Apex were changed. I offered both players a new deal and contract, though this required them to be solo-CT based on the reasonings I mentioned.
I understand that players like M2K have a specific need and value that they should uphold, and I did my best deliver a very strong offer that would be sufficient for them both. The way I saw it as, we can't deny the negative press EMP yields. Even if it were all somehow false, we see the news on various sites, posts on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I saw this as a way for them to not lose out on the money they deserved as world class players, while being able to work on their representation in that regard.
This was offered before M2K was locked into any contract with EMP. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement. Because of that though, the CT EMP tags still continued for both players, they were not dropped then. Never forced to leave EMP, but were given an offer that required it had they accepted it.
How would you sum up what M2K and Armada were able to do for CT in their time with you?
Unfortunately Armada's relationship with CT was short-lived, I was excited to see more come from it. He only came onto the roster as of this January. We had announced and set up a plan for him to stream regularly to our channel, but ran into some complications regarding that. I still helped him out where I could financially even if it wasn't the most, and intended to when he visited the states this year, until this decision took place.
M2K's contribution to CT has been huge. I truly felt that it was more like a normal crew of friends that were building this company together. I've known him since I joined the scene myself in 2006 and have traveled along with him consistently since 2008 when Brawl came out. That's why it was such a natural decision that when I decided to sponsor players through CT in 2011, he was one of the first two players - though I did this originally without knowing he was in EMP, nor did he even tell me back then.
When EMP stepped on the scene and became more involved, I went along with it primarily for M2K's benefit, and I didn't have anything against it then. Despite that M2K has still been a great member practically living in his CT shirt, attending tournaments on a weekly basis, placing outstandingly, and he's also helped set up many interactions with other team members. In fact if it weren't for him, Armada would have never been on the roster as well.
Now, every man and his dog have had a say, but is there anything you feel the fans are overlooking in this case, or would benefit from knowing?
I feel one thing that's kind of glanced over is the debate of what qualifies a company as a true sponsor. I see so often people are like "oh wow is ___ going to get picked up by this sponsor now??" And mention the usual suspects like EG, Curse, Dignitas, C9, etc. Yes, it's clearly true they are bigger at the moment, but companies still need time and opportunities to grow. To give an example of the amount of growth I could offer my players from 2011 when I started sponsoring to now without naming any specific figures, my last offer to M2K that I mentioned to the last question was over 10 times the amount of money I initially paid him in 2011. That amount of growth in 2 years is insane, and consider that with only having 2 players in 2011 compared to multiple paid players and expenses I have now in 2014.
I never worked with contracts previously. I like to think I'm a really kind, approachable, and believing person, and trusted my players with what I offered them. I kept up my end of the bargain and continued to pay them for years, but unfortunately it makes it really easy for players to leave on a sudden urge or offer. I'm now working with contracts for certain players, as that's how our scene seems to be shifting these days.
I also want to say that we do work with many other companies on great terms. This isn't about not sharing players or working with others, and is more the unique case with EMP here. Recently one of our best players Hungrybox got picked up by Team Curse. I was actually very involved with this transition, and even met with one of the staff members of Curse myself during this transition as well. We're on great terms, and Hungrybox actually still writes content regularly for our website. I'm excited for the opportunity he got, and am glad to still be working with him and Team Curse closely.
This obviously frees up a big chunk of your budget, so can we expect big news from CT in the next few weeks as you take the next steps forward?
Oh yes! I've been teasing some huge upcoming plans for CT actually, especially if you've been turned into the r/smashbros subreddit (everyone check it out if you don't already subscribe). These plans are also completely unrelated to what we just discussed about here with M2K and Armada. Definitely keep an eye out for us in the coming weeks. I don't have an exact date for such reveals, but we're less than a month away. I've been calling it the biggest change to CT since I started the company. In fact, I would love to have a follow up interview with you about it after it's announced!
Although the signings of Mango and PPMD to Cloud 9 and Evil Geniuses respectively might have been heralded as bigger news for the Smash community, there is no doubt the end of the relationship between Mew2King and CT represents a sizeable change in the face of the game across the scene, and could have further repercussions for all parties. Whether or not EMP can continue to survive this assault on their reputation is one thing, but this is far from the last you’ve heard from CT or ChiboSempai, that’s for sure.