Updates to this story have been added below
After the conclusion of the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League Malaysia/Singapore Season 5 (MPL-MY/SG S5), people were left wondering about the fate of Orange Esports Reborn. Reborn (previously known as Saiyan Reborn) was sponsored up by Orange Esports earlier this year for MPL-MY/SG S5. They survived the qualifier gauntlet and finished at a respectable third place in the playoffs, losing to Resurgence SG, the team that would go on to win the whole tournament against Geek Fam.
Based on a Facebook post by the team recently, it looks like not all is well – Reborn announced that they are no longer with Orange Esports, and as a result have lost their invitation to MPL-MY/SG S6. It seems that after their contract ended with Orange Esports, they couldn’t find common ground to work together. The team also claimed that their offer to work together with the organization being rejected.
There were some questionable decisions made by the team and Orange, mentioned in the post – according to Reborn, they weren’t even officially signed to Orange for MPL-MY/SG S5 because of some mistakes in the contract that Orange refused to correct. This implies that they were playing under the Orange banner unsigned during S5. In the burgeoning world of esports with countless stories of players being on the losing end of deals, not having all the details worked out is never a good thing.
On the other hand, this post highlights an issue with the current MPL invitation system. As it stands, invitations are given to organizations instead of players, so when organizations decide to release rosters, players who earned the right to participate at the tournament are out of luck. To play in the upcoming MPL season, Reborn will have to go through the grind of open qualifiers and qualifiers to earn their spot again. Orange can just sign another squad to keep their spot in the league.
While this rule is in place to protect organizations from being taken advantage of by players, there’s nothing to protect players in a reverse situation (like what happened to Reborn).
Esports teams aren’t like traditional sports organizations – where the popularity of a sports team comes from its legacy, and sometimes location (a lot of people support their home team just because). In esports, a lot of viewers will choose to follow players regardless of their team. With less physical barriers in place in the world of video games (thanks to the internet), players swapping teams is a matter of simply editing their in-game details. Some players have even created their own organizations to put their own interests first (OG, Team Nigma), instead of having to answer to upper management and investors.
Who should tournament organizers strive to protect? Players who do the heavy lifting of playing the game, or the companies that financially support players to do so?
At the end of the day, there’s no perfect solution to the problem at hand, as we have learned from other scenes. For example in Dota 2, there was a point where invitations were given to players instead of organizations – this led to an imbalance in power dynamics, with all the negotiating power on the side of players instead of organizations. Companies had little incentive to sign teams since they could walk away at any time with no repercussion. However, the shift in power has been fluctuating to and fro. Game companies and tournament organizers are still trying to find that sweet spot.
At this time of writing, we’re unsure of how the situation will play out. We’ve reached out to both Reborn and Orange Esports for their comments and will update the article accordingly. If Reborn do compete in the open qualifier and make it to the regular season, you can be sure that matches between them and Orange are going to be a bloodbath. Grab your popcorn, it’s going to be an exciting season!
We spoke to the manager of Reborn and he had these points to add:
- Orange Esports was only a sponsor for MPL-MY/SG S5 – Reborn are their own organization.
- There were numerous mistakes in the contract which stopped Reborn from signing it.
- They claimed that Orange Esports had promised them corrected contracts, but management kept delaying them.
- He was particularly upset about the contract lasting only two months – ending just before the MPL-MY/SG S5 playoffs. Also, he believed that the contract should have been for at least a year.
- They didn’t speak out against Orange earlier because they had hopes of settling the issue amicably. Unfortunately, their offer was shot down.
- Despite not signing the contract, Reborn still gave up a cut of their prize money to Orange Esports.
- Moonton has refused to comment on the situation.
- He believes that in the future, invitations should go to organizations that own the team, instead of sponsors – like in this case, they should go to Reborn and not Orange.
Orange Esports has not directly addressed the statement by Reborn, but the organization posted on Facebook their participation in MPL-MY/SG S6 with an unrevealed roster. They also published screenshots of emails from Moonton regarding the organization invitation to the tournament.
Reborn has qualified for MPL MY/SG S6 going through the opens – this is going to be spicy!