Swedish version

Hiko’s experience with fishy organizations: ”There needs to be a players union”

av Simon Engstrand
Spencer ”Hiko” Martin.
Spencer ”Hiko” Martin.

Having played for several year, Spencer ”Hiko” Martin has a lot of unique experience when it comes to dealing with organizations.
His observations through the years are not only positive, and he thinks gamers need their own representation.
– I think moving forward there needs to be a players union, Hiko tells Aftonbladet Esport.

Spencer ”Hiko” Martin, both a beloved and controversial figure in the CS:GO scene. In late 2014 he was let go from Cloud9 to be replaced with Shahzeb ”Shazam” Khan. Only weeks earlier the american squad had failed to get out of group stages at the major tournament Dreamhack Winter.

Afterwards Hiko spent quite a long period without a team. Rumors spoke of a new North American super team being created, but in January four of NA:s finest were banned for match fixing.

”The Nihilum time wasn’t the greatest for me”

Supposedly Hiko and AWP:er Tyler ”Skadoodle” Latham were a package deal in terms of joining new teams, but Skadoodle joined forces with Cloud9. Hiko then started looking for new opportunities and the day after he joined Nihilum Gaming. Nihilum however, along with a few more organizations, soon fell to pieces as Kinguin drew back their sponsorship.
– It sucks when a bunch of organizations lose a lot of their money, especially when you’re promised x amount of dollars a month and then all of a sudden they’re like ’oh, we’re sorry, we can’t pay you anymore’. So a lot of orgs ended up folding and a lot of players ended up getting released. The Nihilum time wasn’t the greatest for me, I don’t think our team was very motivated, Hiko tells Aftonbladet Esport and continues:
– So there were a lot of problems and I think we all knew once the org kinda died, collapsed, and lost their money, we weren’t gonna stay together anymore. So pretty much right after ESL cologne, the qualifier, that’s when I started to look for other teams.

And then you joined Team Liquid, how’s that been?
– It feels good. We haven’t been a team for very long, I think I signed with them a month ago or something. Obviously we need experience against European tams.

Have you played long enough to know what kind of team are you?
– When I first joined we were very execute heavy, doing a lot of strats, a lot of waiting until it’s 30-40 seconds left of the round and then throwing smokes and trying to go.
– Now we’re a lot more loose and on the fly, and I think you can kinda tell we end up in a lot of post round situations that we shouldn’t win and we just use our aim and team work to actually win those rounds. I think it works a lot better for us especially when we’re playing against team mates that don’t know what to expect or maybe we’re just better than.

”There needs to be a players union”

The rumor of Hiko joining Team Liquid came long before it was officially announced. It was however denied by multiple sources, and it was said that Hiko wanted a higher salary than the other members of the team. Not true, according to the man himself.
– The outrageous claims that I wasn’t joining Team liquid because of the money, that’s not the case at all. But obviously, my sponsors and my stream, we had to go over everything.

Having played for several years, Hiko has represented organizations such as compLexity, iBUYPOWER and Quantic. He has a lot of unique experience when it comes to negotiating and dealing with esport organizations. And his observations are not only positive.
– I think moving forward there needs to be a players union. A lot of these lower tier teams, a lot of these children don’t know what they’re signing. I remember talking with some American players and they were like ’Yeah, we got a contract and we just signed it over night, no big deal’ and they didn’t realize they signed for like 2 years. They didn’t even know how long their contract was for. So we definitely need to get some kind of player representation, making these players aware of what they are doing, why they are doing it and what they’re actually worth.
– I have some ideas for who are some good candidates to actually be the head of the union, or have a lot of power over it.

Like who?
– It has to be an ex player, someone who immediately comes into my mind is Robin ”Fifflaren” Johansson. He seems to me like the best idea, or the best option for a head. But I know he has a lot of work, he works for Twitch now.

”I honestly think it’s getting better”

Have you had any contract issues yourself?
– Absolutely, I think the reason I’m very notiable about it now is because I was in that situation in the past. You get screwed over once, and you get this big picture of how the scene is and how orgs are trying to take advantage of their players.

What’s the trend, is it getting better or worse?
– I honestly think its getting better. I think players are starting to realize what they’re worth. So I think it’s getting better, but I know there are still some out there that do take advantage of players. And the players are either happy or they don’t know any better.

If you were to send a message to new players, what would you say?
– Be very specific about your contract. Make sure that you read it, dubble read it, triple read it. Make sure you know exactly everything. Throw it to a family lawyer or just a council in general, make sure there’s no grey area.
– If an org promises you a new computer at the end of a year, but if it’s not in the contract and the year comes around they’re like ’oh sorry, even though we said that we’re not gonna do it’. Things like that.



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