SumaiL vs Evil Geniuses: Esports Legal Battle Trial Review
The court showdown of the decade is set to hit the Dota 2 esports scene on November 6th. Syed “SumaiL” Sumail Hassan, the ace midlaner from Team Aster, against his former squad Evil Geniuses.
Their first time around the courtroom will not be short on celebrities, as we’ve got some Dota heavyweights stepping up as witnesses. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev, Peter “ppd” Dager, Clinton “Fear” Lumis, and Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora will be involved in the proceedings in some capacity. Not exactly the EG reunion we hoped for, but it’s certainly popcorn worthy.
The Prequel: SumaiL’s Legal Gambit
To understand the gravity of this legal dispute, we need to rewind back to the March 11 this year. The initial revelations about this case were brought to light by esports journalist, Richard Lewis. According to the allegations, EG attempted to strip SumaiL of his shares in the organization, employing what have been described as “unconscionable and ambiguous terms” in contracts.
These terms were allegedly used to confuse SumaiL, who was characterized as “young and naive” at the time.
Another key point of contention revolves around SumaiL’s salary. From May 2019 to August 2020, he received a monthly salary of $20,000. However, things took a turn after The International 9 (TI9), when EG presented him with an amendment that reduced his monthly earnings to a mere $2,000. Yet, they still forbade him from participating with other teams, such as his brother’s Quincy Crew, except for the upcoming Major qualifiers.
SumaiL’s stake in EG
SumaiL’s ownership of EG shares further complicates the matter. Initially, he held 400,000 shares, but in February 2020, EG proposed to purchase them for $300,000 upfront, with the remaining $700,000 to be paid in three instalments after SumaiL finishes his career. Note that SumaiL was just 21 years old at the time of this proposal.
SumaiL’s legal team contends that EG deliberately obscured the true nature of their contracts, taking advantage of his limited experience in such matters. They argue that SumaiL received no value for his shares despite his substantial contributions to EG’s Esports operations. In their view, EG’s actions amounted to “multiple attempts to strong-arm Plaintiff out of the well-earned benefits of his labors and talent,” and they assert that SumaiL was coerced into signing a termination agreement.
During his tenure from 2015-2019, SumaiL contributed to $14.6M in overall winnings for the esports organization.
It’s important to note that EG vehemently denies all of these allegations, setting the stage for a courtroom showdown. The case has experienced several delays but is now scheduled for a jury trial on June 26, 2023. This date will mark a critical moment in SumaiL’s pursuit of justice and EG’s efforts to defend their reputation.
Where could this go and can SumaiL even win?
There is likely no arguing that Evil Geniuses didn’t create a clear contract that SumaiL signed while not being under distress. Unconscionability will be a hard standard to meet in every scenario. If the jury decides that the signed contract is the law, there is nothing the opposing legal team can do.
If there are arguments that Peak or Evil Geniuses mislead Sumail during Peak’s acquisition of EG or converted his shares, then there is a strong case for him. There may have been a “Mutual Release Agreement” signed between Peak and SumaiL allowing his buyout from the company, which may have been in breach of his previous contract.
If there is any proof of preferred shares being demoted or “predatory practices” in the buyout clause, a jury filled court may see a David vs Goliath battle scenario and side with SumaiL. However, unconscionability has to be proven to argue the rest of his claims and it’s a very hard point to prove.