Ex-Team Secret players claim team took unagreed cut of prize winnings and money was spent on “drones, a porn star and models”

Team Secret logo

The Dota season is just about revving back up after the post-TI mini-break, with the odd tournament taking place ahead of the Boston major qualifiers at the end of this month. Team rosters are set until after the major, but that doesn’t stop the flow of drama. Over the weekend two former players from Team Secret wrote tell-all blogs – one totalling over 7,000 words – about the team, its management, payment issues and indiscretions.

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The full story and breadth of the allegations is humongous, and summarising all of it would be almost impossible. However, the most serious problems are outlined in the blog of Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy’ Mao, who was a part of Team Secret for 12 months ending in August this year. While the original went offline almost immediately due to a humongous traffic surge from the Dota 2 subreddit and other interested parties, its since been mirrored in full on Github.

In it he reveals that it was only after doing well at several tournaments did the players discover that the organisation was taking a 10% cut of their prize winnings. That’s not particularly unreasonable by itself, but the team had originally agreed that all prize money would go to the players. He also explains in detail how money was diverted from the Dota team to other sources.

At the very end of the blog, Envy also brings up that “Secret bought like drones, hired a porn star, and a few models during TI. They also flew in two of the CSGO girls. Doing all this is fine, but the lessons from this year told me that it probably indirectly comes from the players’ pockets.”

Beyond the money problems, another common theme is the attitude and temprement of Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, one of the most famous Dota 2 players in the world and generally thought of as a cool, calm captain. According to the blog, this is not the case. Envy released this video of one of Team Secret’s practice rooms, which was reuploaded to YouTube:

“Kuroky and Zai were playing some custom game and were having ‘way too much fun’ [so] Puppey got mad and threw his headset at the monitor,” explains Envy. “The monitor did break by the way, so Secret had to pay for a new one. When I asked him about the incident, he said he was just putting down his headset angrily, and that the monitor was defective and that’s why it broke. He didn’t know at the time I had the video though. This was right before Shanghai Major, [where] I showed him the video. He told me that if I ever leaked the video he’ll kick me from Secret.”

Envy also recounts multiple occasions where arguments on the team would end with Puppey challenging team-mates to a fistfight, often backed up by aggressive body language or desk slamming.

“During MDL S2, where we have been having bad results for some time,” remembers Envy, “W33ha [Aliwi Omar, another ex-Secret player now with Digital Chaos] and Puppey got into an argument. Puppey gets up from his chair and goes all up in W33ha’s face and screams ‘DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT? STOP BEING CANCEROUS.’ Everyone just stayed silent after. He was always bullying W33ha throughout the entirety of Secret.”

Another former teammate, Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen (also now of Digital Chaos), posted his own blog later on. He explains that he did eventually receive money he was owed – after being specifically called out as missing dozens of thousands of dollars in Envy’s blog – but that he had his own endless series of discussions to get to that point.

Both of the full blogs are worth a read if you want a glimpse into the murky belly of eSports teams. The upshot of it is the same as always – sign physical contracts and get a HR department. While nobody from Team Secret has said anything officially, the team has withdrawn from the upcoming Summit 6 tournament they were invited to take part in.