UPDATE 04/08/2023 10:26pm BST: Esports Insider can confirm that G1 has started to pay teams and staff money that they’re owed since the publication of this report.
North American esports organisation Gamers First (G1) has not paid out prize money owed to teams in its women’s Rocket League circuit Women’s Car Ball, teams affected by the matter have told Esports Insider.
G1 was seen to be a saving grace for the league when it bought Women’s Car Ball from KC Pioneers in February 2023 — however the organisation has not paid teams since an initial payment when it first took over. Multiple people have also alleged that Women’s Car Ball staff have also not been paid since March.
Currently in its fifth season, Women’s Car Ball (WCB) is a women-only Rocket League league. It was founded in 2019 and purchased by KC Pioneers in 2021. Women’s Car Ball’s Season 5 has a $10,000 (~£7,900) prize pool, the finals for which are set to take place in just two weeks.
In February 2023, Esports Insider reported that KC Pioneers had not paid WCB staff since hiring them, nor paid out prize money to teams. The exact same allegations now face Gamers First, who resumed the league after taking it over in March.
One team owner explained to Esports Insider that when the league changed hands from KC Pioneers to G1, they received backpay for money owed by KC Pioneers, but have not received any money since the league restarted in March.
Additionally, a player for Endpoint’s women’s Rocket League team, Evie ‘Slumpii’ Leonard, said on Twitter (now X) that staff working on WCB had not been paid. The claim was later backed up by Jeff Simpkins, COO of esports organisation Resolve, which competes in the WCB league.
Gamers First declined to comment when contacted by Esports Insider. This article will be updated if an official statement is received.
Two sources told Esports Insider that while payments are late, the situation with G1 was better than during KC Pioneers’ reign because G1 did appear to at least have intentions to pay staff, teams and talent, while KC Pioneers did not.
However, a separate source said WCB players were unhappy when G1 took over because some G1 staff involved in the WCB deal were ex-KC Pioneers employees, alleging strong links between the two organisations. This sentiment was separately echoed on Twitter. LJ Browne, a founder of KC Pioneers, is now the President of G1.
The news comes alongside allegations that G1’s professional Rocket League team — which is currently competing in the RLCS World Championship — have also not been paid since March, per a post by Spanish Rocket League player Adrián ‘ByMateos’ Mateos.
Moreover, Finlay ‘rise.’ Ferguson, a British Rocket League player, tweeted that he has also not seen any prize money from the G1 Invitational, a Rocket League tournament he won with his then-team Oxygen Esports in January.
G1 was founded by former NFL American Football star Kenny Vaccaro, alongside entrepreneurs Hunter Swensson and Cody Hendrix, in late 2021.
While Women’s Car Ball — the largest regular women’s esports league for Rocket League — faces more dramatic turbulence, several other women’s Rocket League events have come into the fold.
DreamHack announced a $20,000 (~£16,000) women’s tournament in April, Raidiant launched year-long women’s esports programme in April that included Rocket League, and Ally Financial launched its own women’s open tournament as part of a partnership with developer Psyonix.