Two months ago, Immortals was one of the most talented and exciting professional teams in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene. Now, the team has fired one player and benched two more amidst two weeks filled with controversy.
Whether it was minor squabbles between opponents or quiet strife between teammates, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitive scene has never been completely drama-free. But never before has anything escalated so far as one player threatening the life of another, and one of the game’s largest organizations having its entire roster implode almost overnight.
So here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about one of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s biggest scandals.
Three players from Immortals, a North American team with some big funders behind it, arrived late to a finals match at a tournament, forcing the team to forfeit the first match in a best-of-three. Immortals lost the tournament, and left one of Immortals' most popular players, Kng, suspended — and then terminated — from the team just a day later.
Vito Giuseppe, better known by his in-game name, Kng, is one of Immortals’ most popular players. Known for his flashy plays and fiery passion, Giuseppe has become one of the standouts in an already talented lineup. Joining Giuseppe on Immortals are his close friends Lucas Teles and his brother, Henrique “HEN1” Teles, as well as Ricardo “Boltz” Prass and Lucas “Steel” Lopes.
So, why did Kng get suspended?
It all started on Sept. 10, the final day of the Dreamhack Montreal CS:GO tournament, when Giuseppe and the Teles brothers cost their team the first map of the series by showing up late. Tardiness is typically seen as extremely disrespectful to the time and effort of the opposing team, as well to the fans and event organizers.
This wasn’t the first time that day that the three players had been late to a match. Just a few hours earlier that same day, they failed to show up on time to their semifinal match against Counter Logic Gaming.
While being late, and forfeiting one map in the finals might be bad, Immortals didn’t deem Kng's behavior suspension-worthy. The organization instead fined its own players one month of salary, as well as their portion of the winnings for the team’s second place finish; all of this money was then donated to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Montreal.
But it was the death threat Giuseppe tweeted to a fellow CS:GO professional player that got him suspended.
Wait — a death threat?
Yep, a death threat sparked by a “joke” from another player about why Giuseppe and the Teles brothers were really late to Immortals’ matches that day.
In a statement he made on Facebook on Sept. 21, Giuseppe said that all the late arrivals at the Dreamhack Montreal tournament were due to exhaustion. The team had just played a tournament the previous weekend, and it had simply overslept through their alarms before both games, he said.
However, other teams at the event, namely Counter Logic Gaming, seemed to have other ideas about what might have happened. The CLG coach, Steve “Ryu” Rattacasa, wrote on Twitter during the finals that “after apparently spending the night partying, IMT players showed up late to our match this morning. And again now."
Rattacasa later clarified that while he wasn’t completely sure the Immortals team members were partying, “[I] heard it this AM from multiple sources as they were late for our match.”
While Rattacasa’s accusations are fairly explicit, it was a tweet made by CLG player, Pujan “FNS” Mehta that got the most attention.
“Worst part is I lost to a team with 3 players who were hung over,” said Mehta on Twitter, just moments after it was announced that Immortals would forfeit the first game of the finals.
This isn’t the first time that rumors have circulated about the three Immortals players partying the night before a tournament final, but this is the most obvious callout. With these accusations out in the open, Giuseppe, who apparently found Mehta’s tweet to be both false and unacceptable, fired back with a tweet of his own.
“You’ll prove it or I’ll kill you," he wrote, according to a screenshot of a since-deleted tweet.
When the fire isn't burning hot enough pic.twitter.com/RqRu8PIAJE— DeKay (@NWDeKay) September 10, 2017
It’s worth noting that Giuseppe has not apologized for his tweet or stepped back from the threat at all at time of writing. While the tweet was deleted shortly after, later reports suggested that Giuseppe had to be restrained after trying to search the hotel for Mehta himself. Mehta also tweeted that he was afraid to attend the event’s after party following Giuseppe’s alleged threat.
How did Immortals respond?
Well, at first, it didn’t. The organization’s CEO tweeted just once about the event, writing, “Apologies to #IMTCSGO fans. We will address this internally. Actions should have consequences.” The team later issued an official response in the form of a video, almost two weeks after the incident on Sept. 22. In it, Noah Whinston, Immortals’ chief executive, addresses everything that had occurred around Giuseppe and the team since the tournament in Montreal.
Whinston explained that “after seeing these statements on social media I initially wanted to cut Kng from the team immediately, the other four players on the team as well as the coach, Zakk, convinced me to give him a second chance to provide him a chance to apologize, reform and rehabilitate himself.”
Whinston went on to say that a meeting was scheduled to discuss all of this with Giuseppe on the evening of Sept. 18.
Giuseppe, according to Whinston, didn't show up. This immediately led to his suspension, and not long after that, his termination.
How did Kng go from suspended to terminated?
The day after the meeting was supposed to take place (Sept. 19), Immortals was scheduled to play Counter Logic Gaming in an online qualifier for another tournament, EPICENTER 2017. Because of his suspension, Giuseppe was supposed to sit the series out. However, after the team lost the first match in the best-of-three, the Teles brothers told Giuseppe that they had talked to team manager Nick Phan, and that Giuseppe was clear to play.
As it turns out, this wasn’t quite true.
“Kng had been under internal suspension and was not authorized to play tonight. Expect further news this week,” Whiston tweeted. He later wrote that “the right to represent Immortals must be earned, not given away for free. Players who don’t uphold our standards lose that right.”
According to Giuseppe, these tweets were followed by a call from Whinston, “he called me and said that this was our end.”
Giuseppe later tweeted to say that he was “no longer a part of the Immortals!” according to a translation. “Thanks for all the support given during this time, I wanted to play and help my team need and asked me.”
Não faço mais parte da @Immortals ! obrigado por todo o suporte dado nesse tempo, eu quis jogar e ajudar meu time que precisava e me pediu.— Vito Giuseppe (@kngvito) September 20, 2017
What happens next?
There isn’t a straightforward answer here. For Immortals, both their current players and their ex-players, the road ahead is marred with uncertainty. The Teles brothers remain on the Immortals roster for now, though Whinston made it clear in the team’s reponse video that the pair would remain on the bench until they stopped protesting the team’s treatment of Giuseppe, or until another team bought out their contracts.
What’s more, because tournament qualifications belong to the players that earned them, if another organization decided to pick up both Giuseppe and the brothers, that team would gain control of an Immortals’ qualification spot in a 2018 tournament. Whinston called this an acceptable consequence, because no single tournament is worth sacrificing Immortals' values as an organization. But this could leave the team’s two remaining starters, Prass and Lopes, losing out of an opportunity to compete in a tournament they rightfully qualified for.
With next year’s tournaments already on the line and almost a full roster left to be rebuilt, it will be months before the dust finally settles on the chaos of Immortals’ last several weeks.
Polygon has reached out to Immortals for additional comments on the events, but the organization declined to comment further.