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LG Hyena throws Ubisoft under the bus

Now that regular sports have gone by the wayside for the moment, esports have come into focus as a potential alternative. Video game tournaments can be held remotely, so the show can go on even while players remain distanced from one another.

It's worth noting, however, that the world of esports is far less polished than the world of professional athletics. While outfits like the NFL, NBA, and so on have players unions and collective bargaining agreements, pro gamers are mostly left to fend for themselves.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the controversy surrounding Luminosity Gaming's exit from the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League.

Siege has come into its own as a major esports title these past few years, even going so far as to float the idea of a LAN league for more serious competition. When it came time to negotiate entry into that league, however, Luminosity couldn't come to terms with Ubisoft. Luminosity told members of its Rainbow Six Siege team it would be releasing them due to the lack of a deal with Ubisoft. All of this sounds mostly normal. Unfortunate, but normal.

Here's where things get weird, though. In a normal sport, you'd expect that a player could simply sign with or be traded to another team. And you'd expect the league they play in to help facilitate that in some way, to ensure that good players stay in the league and make the product worth watching. That isn't what Ubisoft did, however.

According to LG Hyena, a Siege player on the Luminosity Gaming squad, Ubisoft completely shut his team out of the conversation. While Ubisoft and Luminosity continued to negotiate, Hyena and his fellow Siege players were reportedly ghosted by most of Ubisoft's esports staff. This led Hyena to post a huge statement on Twitter, bashing Ubisoft for its actions.

"Naturally, I thought that since LG is pulling out, that us as players would be able to look for another org," LG Hyena wrote. "Of course with it being ubisoft, we cant really assume a rational course of action so we dm'd multiple people at ubisoft about our org situation and we either didn't get a response or told that we could not be helped."

Hyena gave a shout out to Lisa Napolitano, one esports employee at Ubisoft he felt actually cared about his situation and his team's plight. He did not have kind words for Ubisoft Esports Director Robb Chiarini, however.

"@jedirobb try this one, you are grossly unfit to be an esports director, your body of work within the industry involves the For Honor and Brawlhala esports scenes, both of which are DEAD now, and r6 will join them if this dude is in charge," Hyena said. "Having your name associated with two failed competitive scenes, one would assume that Ubisoft wouldn't give this clown an even bigger game to f–k up, but I am surprised by this company's decisions every day!"

Those are what many would consider "fighting words."

While it sounds like most of Ubisoft has turned a blind eye to LG Hyena and his fellow Siege pros, there does seem to be one voice coming to the player's defense. Fellow pro player Pengu posted a response on Twitter, stating that both Luminosity and Ubisoft should open up about what happened.

"I personally think its now time for LG/Ubi to come out clean and explain in full," Pengu tweeted, adding, "I want FULL transparency and visbility [sic] from sources."

At the moment, it seems as though Luminosity and Ubisoft are choosing to remain silent.

It's not hard to sympathize with the situation LG Hyena and his teammates are facing. Now is not the best period to be out of work, given the state of the economy. If Hyena and his squad do end up being released from Luminosity, they'll have to move out of the team's house at a time when travel is both tricky and dangerous.

If nothing else, the whole debacle really speaks to how esports are still in their infancy. It's really tough to imagine this scenario playing out in a major professional sports league, where unions have protections in place to ensure players aren't left high and dry, and the leagues are more accountable to fans. It might not be a bad idea for pro gamers to explore something similar — if not for their specific games, then for the industry as a whole.

We'll keep an eye out for any news on LG Hyena and his team. Hopefully they're able to sort the future out sometime soon.