Kory “SEMPHIS” Friesen, former CS9 pro player and head coach of ex-Gaimin Gladiators is organizing a crowdfunding campaign to aid his team while they attend a boot camp in Germany. The hope to reach a $10,000 CAD goal, of which over $2600 has been collected since SEMPHIS Tweeted about it on Monday.
The Canadian squad recently qualified for the American RMRs of the IEM: Road to Rio. They seeded second in the North American Open Qualifiers 1, losing in the final round to Complexity. Gladiators are one of sixteen teams that will travel to Sweden for the RMRs, which will be held at Stockholm between October 5 and October 9.
SEMPHIS, and all five members of the team were cut from the roster in August. In-game leader Dominick ‘JazzPimp’ Dimpfel, Jeorge ‘jeorgesnorts’ Endicott, Brendan ‘Bwills’, and Danny ‘cxzi’ Strzelczyk had not been part of the team long, barely even six months. All six of them were left without an organisation as the Gladiators decided to cut its entire roster. They have since rebranded themselves as the Squirtle Squad.
Plight of low pay and no sponsors
SEMPHIS explained that they were earning entry-level salaries when they were part of the Gladiators, and since that source of income has now dried up they are struggling to put together the funds to attend bootcamp.
The objective of the fundraiser is to spend five days in Germany. They would hope to benefit by adjusting to the European time zones, practicing against better teams, and “adjust to the European meta” before heading into the cut-throat RMRs, through which they could qualify for the IEM Majors in Rio.
All donations received will go towards their flights between Germany and Sweden, the Bootcamp costs, food, and other travel expenses incurred. SEMPHIS also made it clear that they don’t expect any donations from anyone. His Tweet read, “This is purely to help us grow as a team as [we are] trying to gather as much money as we can to make this work, traveling in Europe is expensive without support.”
IGL cyn1c has chosen to exclude himself from the campaign, and will not be accepting donations. This decision is likely prompted by the fiasco of his exit from the Party Astronauts earlier in the year, which followed the cancellation of their European bootcamp due to a misunderstanding of Germany’s vaccination requirements. cyn1c was the lone unvaccinated player in the squad, which caused a lot of confusion while navigating the travel paperwork.
This led to him posting a tirade on Twitter, where he expressed a lack of faith in the team due to a “constant barrage of personal and in-game problems.” A bitter back and forth ensued between cyn1c and PA player Jonathan “Jonji” Carey, and cyn1c left on bad terms. SEMPHIS clarified that cyn1c isn’t participating in the fundraiser because he “doesn’t want the stigma from the last ordeal” and will be “paying his own way to alleviate any worries from past experiences.”
Help is on the way
The highest donation received so far is by $500 CAD from an anonymous donor Sh3n l0ng. Jackson Wolf, a product manager at ESL Gaming sent in a total of $450 CAD, and $300 CAD donation was made by Evil Geniuses’ director of athletics and ELEAGUE Boston Major winner Soham “valens” Chowdhury.
There have been other initiatives from the community to help out as well. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, in-game leader of Imperial, told SEMPHIS he would stream this week to help them gather resources. SEMPHIS also said that they are working with the ESL, who did offer help to teams that want to arrive early in Europe. They’re trying to offset the cost of flights back and forth from Germany to Stockholm, but the bootcamp is the biggest drain on their resources.
The team has organised a set of prizes to show their appreciation for the top three donors, in collaboration with one player of their choice excluding cyn1c. The top donors can choose between an hour-long demo review or lesson, or a PUG with any player of choice. They also have the option of accessing a complete set of strategies and setups of a map of their choice, or listen in to the team’s TeamSpeak communication during bootcamp and they would be open for discussion later. Jeorge also offers a one-month fitness coaching or diet plan.
If you wish to support the team, head over to the Squirtle Squad GoFundMe page to pledge.