An esports team is reborn, but can it overcome its troubled past?
On Jan. 13, a once-dead competitive gaming company came back to life. Team 4Nothing, already boasting squads for some of the biggest esports on the planet, immediately aimed to make an impact across the esports spectrum.
But 4Nothing's history began long before Jan. 13. It includes ties with one of the industry's strangest and most spectacular organizational implosions. Can 4Nothing overcome its troubled past, or is it already moving down another a rocky path?
In December, 23-year-old Simon Boudreault suddenly disappeared. The Quebec-native and self-appointed CEO of esports organization Quantic gave no warning or explanation to players and staff, who accuse him of owing more than $40,000 in salary.
But while Boudreault's disappearance made headlines, his problems began a long time ago.
Before Quantic, Boudreault was the co-founder and operations manager of Team 4Nothing, which organized teams in games such as StarCraft 2 and Counter-Strike. 4Nothing dissolved when Boudreault merged it with another team, "It’s Gosu," and renamed both under the the Quantic umbrella.
Now, 4Nothing has returned with new teams in League of Legends, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and StarCraft 2. It will be a tall order for 4Nothing to overcome its association with one of esports' most infamous CEOs.
To begin with, 4Nothing is already going down the same paths that caused some of the problems for Boudreault, who payed for Quantic entirely out of his own pocket. Team 4Nothing is being bankrolled by “a group of us using our personal disposable incomes,” co-founder Kain "Stryker" Milakovic told the Daily Dot.
“That being said there is not millions of dollars backing us, more like a group of hard working people who love the sport.”
That hasn't stopped them from acquiring significant talent. The Dota 2 squad, which is still being put together, includes the Russians Vadim “Bloodangel” Trushkin, formerly of Moscow 5, and Vladislav "Blowyourbrain" Morozyuk, formerly of Virtus Pro. Moscow 5 and Virtus Pro are two of Russia’s top esports organizations.
4Nothing staffers say Boudreault was behind the original collapse of the organization. Kain "Stryker" Milakovic, the co-founding partner, said Boudreault pushed him out while he was moving from Europe to Canada, and was out of contact with the team.
Milakovic accuses Boudreault of stealing 4Nothing’s Web properties and analytics as well as presenting fake analytics to partners. So why didn’t he sue or go public with the alleged theft?
“[Simon] has done and accomplished some grand things,” Toussaint explained. “Stryker wasn't ready to end the reputation of [Boudreault] and the Quantic Gaming brand. How can you confront a massive organization like Quantic?”
The newly reanimated 4Nothing is owned by Kain Milakovic, a 32-year-old Canadian. 4Nothing’s management operates on a volunteer basis and includes Paul Mignon, a 22-year-old Frenchman, who thought up the team’s new slogan: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery.”
That slogan, along with much of the language and tone 4Nothing’s return, has been met with mixed reactions across esports.
On Jan. 15, the team announced its creation via a press release on Reddit. It held no punches against Boudreault, calling out his “lying” behavior. Redditors reacted negatively, and the release was widely criticized as immature. It turns out that adjective wasn't far from the truth.
The release was written by the organization’s manager Chris Toussaint, who initially told the Daily Dot he was 19-years-old. But after further questioning, he changed his tune a week later. He was only 15-years-old, he said. He didn’t come clean at first, he said, because the issue of his age was “not the publicity we need at this point.”
Despite these early publicity bumps, the organization has managed to solidify a solid roster of teams, in addition to its strong Dota 2 acquisitions. The League of Legends is being brought over from German organization be.inSide eV. Under 4Nothing, the team will attempt to qualify for the National ESL Pro Series and the Challenger Series, a minor league for the esports’ biggest competitive event, the League Championship Series.
4Nothing will also run a Call of Duty squad that will play under the alternative ruleset known as “eSniping,” in which only sniper rifles are allowed.
Attempting to take advantage of Counter-Strike’s growing popularity, 4Nothing has also acquired a team formerly known as SlowMotion GO, which is competing in the playoffs of ESEA-Main, essentially a second-division league in North America.
This squad will be the first to carry the new banner into action tonight in the ESEA-Main playoffs at 11pm ET (you can watch it here). If they win, 4Nothing will be one step closer to ESEA-Invite, the highest league in North America.
Photo by Tom Small/Flickr