Swedish esports outfit Ninjas in Pyjamas has fired CEO Per Lilliefelth following a Breitbart report that its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players had not been paid thousands of dollars earned through prize money and in-game sticker sales. NIP initially denied the claim, saying the story was based on "misinformation" and "incorrect conclusions." Over the weekend, however, it issued a statement saying it was "time to bring in new people with more suitable properties, skills and experience to lead Ninjas in Pyjamas in the future."
The statement announcing Lilliefelth's departure doesn't directly address the allegations that players have gone unpaid, but it does say that "there are thing that we could have done or handled better." It credits Lilliefelth for helping bring NIP to where it is today, but also acknowledged, without going into detail, that some of the accusations leveled against him are true.
"As CEO of a company Per is the individual ultimately responsible for the business, and since he is a pragmatic person he accept[ed] responsibility for the mistakes that have been made," NIP said. "It is time to bring in new people with more suitable properties, skills and experience to lead Ninjas in Pyjamas in the future. The business and industry has changed, it is time to take it to the next level."
That's probably a very apt summation of what's happening here, and in a great many other cases of pro esports shenanigans: It's big business these days, but it's also a very new business, built on and around young players. As audiences and prize pools increase, so do expectations and standards of behavior. Some actions that may have been given a pass in "the old days" are no longer tolerable, even when there's no willful wrongdoing involved.
Ninjas in Pyjamas announced that Patric Jönsson, formerly the CEO of subsidiary Xtrfy Gaming, has been appointed interim CEO.