Ninjas in Pyjamas Reportedly Behind on Sticker Payments to Players

Ninjas in Pyjamas competing at ELEAGUE.
Ninjas in Pyjamas competing at ELEAGUE. / Daniel Shirey/GettyImages

Swedish esports organization Ninjas in Pyjamas is in a dispute with several current and former players on its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team over payments players have yet to receive from sticker sales at the canceled 2020 Rio Major, Dexerto reports.

These in-game stickers went on sale after the event had been canceled — a casualty of rising COVID-19 cases in Brazil at the time — and then-NIP player Tim "nawwk" Jonasson is said to believe players have a contractual claim to revenue from their sale. Nawwk is pursuing action against NIP to enforce payments to all the relevant players, each of which could be owed between $200,000 and $300,000, based on sales of stickers from teams of comparable profile.

Nawwk's case is built around section 5.4 of the contracts players signed, which reads as follows:

"Team shall receive 16.67% of the team stickers money earned by the Player. The Player shall receive the remaining 83.33% of the team stickers money divided with his teammates.

"The Player shall allocate 2% of the Player’s stickers money to a marketing fund dedicated to the CS:GO team. Team shall when receiving the stickers money deduct and transfer to a dedicated bank account. The funds shall be spent on initiatives approved by the CS:GO team. Minimum four (4) members of the CS:GO team have to approve how the monies are spent.

"The Player shall receive 100% of the individual stickers money, which is allocated to the players."

For its part, NIP interprets this clause as organizer Valve allowing teams to retain all the proceeds from sales as a form of mid-pandemic financial relief. Chief Operating Officer Jonas "calc" Gundersen put forth this understanding in a group text sent to the players and reviewed by Dexerto.

"These were ‘Capsules’ created by the teams, and Ok’d by Valve, in order to survive the pandemic and keep paying salaries without any cuts, despite the complete lack of sponsorships and exposure," he wrote. "Therefore it’s not stickers as it would be normally – because there was no major. This was a desperation move for many teams because elseway something like half would have pulled out of CS:GO altogether.

"I know many teams treated this differently and some paid portions out to the players – we opted not to do that and keep salaries intact and the business running normal, adding more support staff around the team to make it an even better place to win majors. There’s also very different contracts on teams based on the normal sticker money, where you guys get almost 100% and either way everyone does things individually."

The three players remaining on NIP's roster since the Rio Major — Fredrik "REZ" Sterner, Hampus "hampus" Poser and Nicolas "Plopski" Gonzalez Samora — have refrained from commenting publicly on the situation. They have forwarded their concerns to the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association for review, per Dexerto.

NIP has come under fire for failing to pay players for stickers in the past. The team owed $340,000 in backdated prize money and unpaid sticker sales in 2015, and some players still had not received their payouts as recently as 2019. The resulting investigation by the Esports Integrity Commission was widely criticized for its brevity.

Neither NIP nor Valve has yet commented on nawwk's claims.