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ESEA Bitcon Scandal - Thoughts and a Lesson in Leadership

I'm not going to spend too much time on my personal opinions of the SEVERITY of the issue. We all agree what ESEA did was WRONG, and a lot of energy has already been spent debating the "level of wrong".

I'll also say that the few interactions I've had directly with Torbull have always been very positive, and I have never heard a story of someone having a different experience. He's very well liked by us in the community. His counter-part... well, that's a different story. 

What I'm going to focus on in this post is the response from ESEA in an effort to elaborate on the HUGE opportunity for leadership and how this situation could've (probably should've) been handled. 

At first, I was encouraged to see Torbull reel in lpkane, slap on the gag order, and share his personal thoughts/emotions of being embarrassed and ashamed. He stated that he would have an official statement once he could get his arms around the situation. That set up "his moment"-- the moment where he could have elevated his game and demonstrated immense leadership and responsibility. "His time to shine", as it were. 

Instead, his "handle the PR" statement was a wet noodle in terms of strength of leadership. Loosely paraphrased, "someone did something and we'll do something to prevent that something from happening again, and we'll donate our illegally obtained money to charity". We don't know who it was, we don't know what actions were taken, and we don't know if that person is still with ESEA. And honestly, we don't even know if what we're being told is true, given the level of backpedaling from their ownership up to this point. 

Let's assume what they've said so far is true, and the person responsible is named Bob. How would you have felt if Torbull came out and said something like this, instead:

"I'm ashamed and embarrassed that this has taken place on my watch. It's completely unacceptable to you, the community, and completely unacceptable to me and the members of the ESEA team. 

Bob, the person responsible for these actions, has been fired.

It's also come to my attention that lpkane, a long standing member of our ESEA leadership team, felt it was appropriate to troll and insult concerned community members posting about this situation. This is also NOT acceptable, and as a result, lpkane has been fired.

I ask and hope that you will accept my sincerest apologies. The behavior of lpkane, and the actions taken by Bob are painfully clear examples of what CANNOT happen on my watch, and I accept the responsibility of their actions, and will work as long as hard as necessary to regain your trust.

To further demonstrate my commitment to you, the community, we will be providing every active ESEA member who had their machine used to mine for bitcoin with a brand new <INSERT VIDEO CARD HERE>. Our logs show which machines were used, and we will contact you on how to claim the cards. If you feel we missed you for some reason, please message me.

If there is any other way we can continue to earn the right to serve you, please contact me directly"

That kind of a message would have:

  • Accepted responsibility
  • Been transparent
  • Explained the actions taken
  • Demonstrated CARE FOR THE PLAYERS
  • Shown in both a quantitative and qualitative way the level of their commitment 

What would you have said to that message? 

I agree, the situation Torbull has been dealt is a VERY DIFFICULT one, and he's always been a stand up guy. But to make it worse, he posted this, in response to a thread about the situation not being a big deal, suggesting we all "get over it":

comeontorbull.png

Those of us who are concerned, not only about ourselves and our PCs, but also about the future of ESEA-- are we all "insane", or not living in reality? Are we not levelheaded? Do you think now, less than 24 hours since this exploded, is the right time to be insulting us again?

Here's the point that's being missed:

WE WANT ESEA TO SUCCEED, BECAUSE IT MEANS THE GAME WE LOVE TO PLAY SUCCEEDS. DESPITE THIS MESS, MANY PLAYERS, LIKELY MYSELF INCLUDED, WILL REMAIN A PAYING CUSTOMER. 

It's not like we're hoping ESEA goes bankrupt and lpkane goes to prison. But we are genuinely concerned (and yes, in many cases, outraged) at the violation of trust, degradation of our hardware, and lack of leadership by ESEA. 

Another huge concern is the attitude and status of lpkane, given his response to the issue. In all of the posts I've seen from Torbull since this issue blew up, NOT ONE OF THEM HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THE BEHAVIOR OF LPKANE, OTHER THAN TO ABSOLVE HIM OF KNOWLEDGE OF THE MINING TAKING PLACE. 

Maybe instead of "lack of leadership" I could've said "insults and trolling", as shown below. Is this how you want your organization represented (ever, let alone in really rough times)? 

hopefully a lot.png

The leadership lesson here is that you are ultimately responsible for the actions taken by your team-- know that, and accept it. There are times you'll find yourself in incredibly uncomfortable situations like this one. When they happen (and they WILL happen), be sure to keep your focus on your customer. Damage control reads as just that-- damage control. Honesty and transparency will go lightyears further. It's not always the easiest route to take, but the "right decision" isn't always the easy one. 

Closing out my thoughts, I genuinely hope ESEA gets their ship straightened. They need to take a few more actions, be more transparent, and work ten times as hard to earn our trust back. In the meantime, with no other ship to jump to, I'll continue to use the ESEA service, albeit cautiously, and while metaphorically holding my nose.

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