E-sports Arena: Bauer Hockey Inks Deal With Streamer; Russian Team Responds to Pay Dispute

NHL 20 Game Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of EA

Elsewhere in esports, 'Call of Duty' pro Ian "Crimsix" Porter announces free agency; 'CS:GO' vet Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko retires; and fans launch backlash campaign against 'NBA 2K.'

E-sports Arena is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

Bauer Hockey, the top hockey apparel brand in the world, has announced its first-ever professional gaming partnership, signing NHL pro Andrew "Nasher" Telferto an official sponsorship deal. The agreement comes on the heels of another groundbreaking sports apparel-gaming partnership between Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Adidas

"We strive to stay deeply engaged in and connected to our hockey community, which includes every aspect of the experience from in-game performance to the lifestyle hockey players live," said Ricky Hildebrand, digital marketing manager for Bauer Hockey. "We’re proud to be the first hockey equipment company to partner with a world-class digital influencer and gamer and add Nasher to our BAUER team."

Telfer, a YouTuber since 2012, has grown his channel to over 286,000 subscribers producing both Electronic Arts NHL and real-life content. Telfer's channel has featured some of the top hockey players in the world, most recently Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In addition to his YouTube content, Telfer is also part of the broadcast team for the NHL’s official Gaming World Championships. He is represented by Cody Hock and Cole Hock of Up North Management Group.

Official terms of the deal were not shared.

Elsewhere, Russian e-sports team Vega Squadron has been accused of not paying players on its Dota 2 team. Allen "Bonkers" Cook, former manager for the team, made the allegations over Twitter, saying "to this day none of the players have received anything of the $15,000 prize pool that was paid on time by Dreamleague directly to Vega" and that "the negotiations have pretty much stopped after some six months of trying to get the money from Vega."

A spokesperson for Vega Squadron told The Hollywood Reporter that the organization has been in a "stage of reorganization and legal transformation" since February. "This process indeed has a strong influence on financial and accounting operations, making some things extremely difficult or impossible at the moment," the spokesperson said.

Vega Squadron did not deny owing its players money, saying, "We are making every effort to ... deal with our internal problems and pay all debts to the players. We apologize to the players once again for such a long delay."

Here’s what else is happening in the world of e-sports.

Call of Duty Pro CrimSix Announces Free Agency Ahead of CoD League

Ian "Crimsix" Porter, the most successful Call of Duty pro in the game’s history, has announced he’ll be entering free agency for the 2020 season. Porter revealed the news via Twitter, saying "Restricted F/A for the 2020 season. All of that hard work for essentially nothing." The move comes on the cusp of the launch of the Call of Duty League, which features teams from cities across the world. Porter has not yet signed with a team. 

NBA 2K20 Spawns Backlash Campaign

The hashtag #Fix2K20 has been trending since the launch of NBA 2K20, as fans are taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the game, such as issues with its Badge Point progression system. 2K Games has yet to respond to the backlash.

Overwatch Pro Thinks "Role Lock" Is Killing The Game

The controversial "role lock" feature in Overwatch — which locks teams at two Support, two Tank, and two DPS heroes (characters focused on offense) per match — could be driving longtime players away. Former San Francisco Shock player Andre "iddqd" Dahlstrom blames the feature for longer queue times, making it hard to find a match when he’s trying to stream. "What’s stopping me from being happy waking up streaming games in Overwatch is basically I know I’m not going to be able to play my DPS," Dahlstrom said during a Twitch stream earlier this week. 

CS:GO Veteran Zeus Lays Out Plans For Retirement

Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko, a longtime Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player and current member of Natus Vincere, has announced he will be retiring from professional CS:GO after the upcoming BLAST 2019 Pro Series Moscow event. Teslenko, who has played competitive Counter-Strike in some form since 2004, was announced to be leaving Natus Vincere via the team's Twitter, which also revealed a roster reshuffle along with the retirement news. The team spoke highly of Teslenko in its statement, as CEO Yevhen Zolotarov referred to Teslenko as "our captain, the legend and an inalienable part of our history." BLAST Pro Series Moscow will take place September 14 at Central Dynamo Stadium in Moscow.