After an issue with delayed payments, which was followed by a guarantee that those payments would be made, the H1Z1 Pro League will be shutting down, scuttling the second part of the first season and a planned second season.
ESPN reports that Daybreak’s Jace Hall, who is also the co-chairman of Twin Galaxies, the organization in charge of the league, informed teams last week informing them of the news and absolving them of any future responsibility to the league. According to ESPN, a “dwindling player base and interest in H1Z1” are the reasons behind the move.
At the heart of the issue is the payments from Twin Galaxies/Daybreak to the teams, which would then be used to pay players, many of whom had no other source of income. The H1Z1 Pro League was to consist of two splits, with payments due seven weeks before the start of each split. The first split took place as scheduled, starting Apr. 21, with payments occurring as scheduled seven weeks before. The second split was to begin on Sept. 15. No payments were made, in part due to the issues regarding the game’s future in the wake of the Nantworks partnership. When that was cleared up, the second split was rescheduled for a mid-January start, which would have placed the seven-week deadline right about now. Instead, the league is shutting down.
When asked about the affair on a livestream last month — “Why don’t you pay H1PL players?” — here’s what Hall had to say:
“You may have noticed that when those comments are tweeted at me or they’re brought up, I don’t respond to them. The reason that I don’t respond to them is because the answer can create some consternation between teams and players, and I have no interest in trying to exacerbate already a challenging situation.
“But I will answer your question. First of all, I personally don’t have to pay anybody. Let’s be clear about that. But I’m assuming you mean the H1PL. The league doesn’t have contracts with players. The league doesn’t pay players. There’s no player for the league to pay. So when you say, ‘Why doesn’t the league pay the players?’ what it tells me is that you don’t necessarily have the complete understanding of the context of what you’re trying to ask. The NBA does not pay Lebron James. The Lakers pay Lebron James.
“So if there are players that aren’t being paid, it is because their team is not paying them. Now, all of the teams in the H1PL – [or] the vast majority of them – are paying their players. Some of those teams are not paying their players.
“So it’s inappropriate to conclude that the league pays the players; it doesn’t work that way. The league has a contract with the teams, and the league has a contract to provide those teams a certain amount of money within the league calendar year. It has already provided half that amount and plans to provide the entire amount within the scope of the contract …
“This is the whole thing: There have been some teams that have had some cash flow issues. And in addressing that, they cite the league’s shift in its payment schedule – because the second split moved out – as the reason why they don’t have the money. That gets into a different scenario because all of the teams had to represent a certain financial health to get a league slot.
“So the reason I don’t go into all of this is because it just is not helpful. It doesn’t do anything. [At] the end of the league calendar year, then come and see me if the league has not paid what it’s supposed to pay to the teams. But meanwhile, all that other stuff is between teams and players, and let me tell you: Players negotiate different deals with their teams. They’re not all the same. I don’t have visibility into all that stuff, what teams are telling players or anything like that. That’s not what I do.
“The prize money was paid out. All that’s been taken care of, all within the scope of the agreed-upon contract.”
In a technical, and possibly legal, sense, Hall is correct. The league was to pay teams seven weeks before the split began. If the split never began, then they don’t have to pay. Whether that’s the right thing to do is debatable.
To his credit, Hall stated (via ESPN’s report) that “the League is still working to pay teams and resolve that matter.” We’ll wait and see whether or not that happens — and whether any teams would place their trust in Hall, Twin Galaxies, and Daybreak Game Company should the league ever re-form.
UPDATE: VPEsports leveled a number of accusations at Hall regarding the league’s troubles, including lavish spending, paid viewers at live events, and issues regarding its sponsorship with Facebook and viewer manipulation, as well as character accusations regarding his character from former employees. Hall has since rebutted nearly all the claims via a recording on Twitter.