Usually my writing is confined to dick jokes and trying to best draw out the humor value in bad Photoshops. I figured that, for a change, I would do a little hard-hitting journalism, asking those tough questions and getting those difficult answers. It worked out brilliantly when Blight Gaming's Blackfoger tweeted us here at TeamFortress.tv and asked for an interview. The man has quite a reputation, with virtually no positive will being demonstrated towards him from any e-sports community, be it TF2, Counter-Strike, Starcraft, or DotA. He wanted a chance to set the record straight and to let people make their own judgments about his actions and his organization; I uh... I don't think he did a very good job of that. Read on and enjoy!
[b]djc[/b]: So for the first question - what do you and Blight Gaming hope to gain out of being interviewed? Help out your image a bit, clear the air about some things?
[ia]Blackfoger: We just want to set the record straight, we are currently sponsoring a TF2 team and still wish to be in the TF2 community and expand beyond what we are currently doing. But we are taking things slow, just providing for teams and not going above our means. Also want to do this to relax some of the people that are being rather spiteful in hopes they can allow us the room to grow. [/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: Your answer there has a lot of points being brought up that we will cover in due time, but let's start with the team you are currently sponsoring. You are sponsoring ESEA Intermediate team Xensity, currently playing under the name Blight Xensity. What have you provided for that team so far?
[ia]Blackfoger: Just money, we were going to be giving them Keyboards from WASD but WASD was emailed several times about our past issues (which we already told them) and was harrassed constantly. We did achieve great sales for them and were progressing nicely they were making sure we were keeping our business legamite. We were dropped by WASD and the company has yet to come back.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: And that can bring us into the next issue; you had as sponsors for your organization WASD Keyboards, Blight-Everki and one other company whose name I forget, but those three are no longer sponsoring Blight Gaming. Was it just a series of e-mails that were sent to those companies that ended their business relationship with you? What was said in the e-mails, if you are aware?
[ia]Blackfoger: It wasn't a series, they recieved hundreds by some of the same email addresses, many were emailed by particular people that have stated they don't care if we have been supporting teams or been paying debts, they just want us gone period. These companies were doing exactly that, directly supporting our players and some of these players really needed that support. In some of the emails there were allegations I was a racist, that I had taken money from cancer patients a wide variety of items.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: I remember seeing threads and posts from you on places such as NATF2 and TeamLiquid discussing Blight's current situation, and in fact discussing these e-mails and the negative attention your organization receives. Considering how much abuse you and Blight receive, what actually keeps you coming back to sponsor people in the TF2 community? It seems that many of them do not want you to be involved with the game, but maybe if you state what your motivations are and what your purpose is, it could help dissolve some of the anti-Blight sentiment.
[ia]Blackfoger: Despite what some feel many people request for our help each and every season. All we wish to do is help teams, even though we have made many many mistakes we have tried to help such as Season 7 we spent think it was $800 for open teams fee's to help them out. We just wish the TF2 team to grow as many of us enjoy the game.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: So you say "we" there - I think that the general idea about Blight that most people hold is that the organization is pretty much Blackfoger and nobody else. Are there other people involved in Blight Gaming besides yourself right now?
[ia]Blackfoger: Of course we have other people that help in, but the mistakes that were made were my fault.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: So you're much more involved in the daily operations than most other MGO owners seem to be, which in a way can lead us back to the whole affair of season 7 with the team featuring Platinum, Mesr, Smaka, oPlaiD, Harbleu and Blackymonster. I have heard the stories of that season from several other players, but give it to us in your own words - what went wrong in season seven with your sponsorship of Blight that led to the debacle at LAN?
[ia]Blackfoger: Basically we were over extended to put it simply our cash flow during that time wasn't always reliable.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: Okay, your cash flow was not always reliable. In spite of that, you were sponsoring the Blight team that attended LAN. My understanding is that you had an agreement with the team to pay for their flights and accomodations, is that correct?
[ia]Blackfoger: I honestly don't remember that much but speaking with Dustin (smaka) that is correct.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: The team arrived at the LAN, went to their hotel and were told that the credit card you gave them was declined and the team was not allowed to check in. According to Platinum and Smaka, you were called on your phone and spoke to someone from the hotel. At the end of that conversation, Blight were allowed in to the hotel and went to their rooms. They tried to make a charge on your credit card and it did not work, so the team itself had to pay for their hotels. There's several questions that come out of this entire scenarion, so we start with the easy one: did you give the hotel credit card information that was declined?
[ia]Blackfoger: I really don't remember I just know that I made a mistake at the time and didn't have the cash available as far as the events of what happnened I don't know how we even placed.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: If you did not have money available at the time, why did you not inform the actual team of this when you found out about it? Even if you did not tell them beforehand, you could have told Platinum or Smaka or somebody when they tried to get in contact with you about the hotel.
[ia]Blackfoger: At the time I was relying on some of my money and private investor. We both expected to have some cash but nothing was there at the time. In hindsight should of been upfront and honest instead of relying on cash that wasn't guaranteed.
Then again I really don't remember that or some of the other faults we had during that lan, all I know is I owe smaka.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: That can be our next topic, then. From what I know, the actual amount you owe Smaka is about $2600. He said to me "I told him $2000 even would suffice." I was also told that you owe Harbleu and Platinum $250 and $200 respectively, with at least the latter being pretty convinced that he will not be getting his money back. So covering that all - are you actively paying back Smaka the $2000 right now?
[ia]Blackfoger: Yes slowly, I am actually paying smaka back but its being rather slow, when we had WASD and our other sponsor they were giving us room in the budget to pay back past debts in a quickier fashion. As far as plat and harb I have not heard anything form them about that. I tried to reach out to plat about making amends he never replied back(also didnt know I owed him money).[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: I actually got some numbers and information out of Smaka about your paying him back. He has received roughly $120 in payments from you so far, the last coming about a month ago and in Smaka's own words "I would imagine he'll continue to reimburse me at a rate of about $27 per 90 days." According to you, the reason for the slowness of those payments has been due to the lack of sponsors behind Blight. Considering this, do you have an actual plan to pay back Smaka?
[ia]Blackfoger: Well if we had those sponsors that we actually achieved sales for that our players needed it would relax other income in which I could use that for smaka. in Q1 2013 we are announcing a title sponsor as well as ad income has been on the rise. In a few months my personal bills are going to be lower in which I can pay him back at a quicker rate. I do not like having this looming for so long as it has. It is not the only reason we haven't been able to pay him but its a huge factor.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: The problem with this interview, if it's meant as a way to help your image by setting the record straight, is that what you have said here is mostly things you have said before. You have been telling Smaka for nearly two years now you will pay him back, you have said that Blight is no longer going to make promises it cannot keep, that the organization will not offer money it does not have. What makes it different this time when you say all of this?
[ia]Blackfoger: We can never really change people's minds but we are making a concise effort, adopted a business model, having outside income, ACTUALLY having a website, contacting sponsors, only have a few teams instead of 30, only doing minor support to some teams/players, making a budget, having a contract, paying back all our debts not just smaka's. Trying to deliver to teams and slowly make our way back.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: One further issue is the fact that the issue that is held against you most strongly by the TF2 community is the season 7 LAN debacle, of which you say you do not remember much about. While that may be understandable, there have been so many issues with Blight Gaming in the past and over such a lengthy period of time. You once promised a DotA squad featuring Demon, Fear, Merlini, Kuroky and Puppey salaries as well as travel expenses for LAN, which you did not follow through upon. You told DaZed you would provide a CSS team tickets to participate in ESEA as well as salaries. You were in contact with Fnatic DotA and offered them support for the Alienware DotA League, which was also not given. That is only a fraction of the times Blight Gaming has been involved in e-sports scandals and drama. Were these all issues of cash flow, or was something more at play? Why has your organization consistently and constantly been in situations where you have failed to follow through on money or support promised?
[ia]Blackfoger: I did give Dazeds team salary kept records of that, and pham could tell you that we did provide salaries. The fnatic situtation was miscommunication in which I paid travel for their manager. The Dota team with demon I dropped the ball again. There are several stories yes some are not quite what is percieved but we don't want to dive into drama just move past. They were all issues of cash flow. We have helped many more teams then we hurt but the bad is only thing that ever gets publicized.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: There is a long history of issues with Blight's sponorship of teams, and many of your ex-players including caseyfoster, DaZed, anGer, Griff, the entirety of Blight Canada, MiSeRy, Justin, TheFragile have all been willing to come out and discuss them openly. Considering the massive pile of accusations before you, and the consistency of the stories, why would you prefer to "just move past"? As far as I am aware, Blight has never made an official response to the individual accusations and has given only general dismissals of them, much like you did just now. If you want to move past all of those things, would it not make sense to at some point address them specifically and acknowledge the mistakes you made and stop trying to cover it all up with clichés like "the bad is all that people focus on"?
[ia]Blackfoger: http://blightgaming.com/2012/10/11/our-reputation/ Many of the players have changed their statements about us and I have worked with since aka sponsored them again.[/ia]
[b]djc[/b]: Again, that article has nothing specific in it. It is all generalities, talking about how you were young and stupid, how you got in over your head, how you have a plan to push forward. It seems to me that people would be more inclined to trust Blight Gaming and hold a more positive view of the organization if you were willing to actually go through a detailed list of failed sponsorships in your past and explain the circumstances behind them and why things will be different now; do you not agree? Merely saying "We should not make any excuses to others but explain what happened, and ask for understanding. It’s always nice to be on the right side of ethics, but sometimes we falter. We’re only human." as you did in the Blight Gaming article does not achieve that.
At this point, Blackfoger became unwilling to further discuss these issues because he felt it would cause further problems for he/the organization to delve into the past and the interview basically ended. Blackfoger left these closing remarks:
[ia]Blackfoger: umm want to thank you for taking the time out to do this and just want to repair our former name and deliver again can read more about us here http://blightgaming.com/2012/10/11/our-reputation/. If anyone ever has questions they can add me on steam or skype (blackfoger).[/ia]
Since I did speak to some people about this matter, I felt like it would be best to gather some quotes from them to help provide some context to this entire affair.
[ia][b]Harbleu[/b]: He's an idiot. Anyone who has talked to him or seen him post can tell that. I don't think he has bad intentions when he does things, he just makes promises he can't keep and doesn't realize that people hate him for it.[/ia]
[ia][b]Platinum[/b]: He's a fucking joke of a human. Pathological doesn't even begin to describe the nut job. He like gets off by lying to people making them think he's a good sponsor or something. He's like the only person I would say I've ever met in my life who I would call psychotic in the absolute sense of the word.[/ia]
[ia][b]Smaka[/b]: He needs to stop claiming he's going to pay me back every month when in reality he only pays me every 90 days. Basically he's a nice guy, but a compulsive liar with awful grammar.[/ia]
For further reading on the exploits of Blight Gaming, I recommend the following three articles featuring some excellent and actual journalistic efforts from Cadred's James "Spider Jerusalem" Heron, ESEA's Everett "rk-" Wells, and ESEA's Heather "sapphiRe" Mumm.