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Kizoku Steps Down from Nora-Rengo Following Unpaid Wage Allegations

The owner, manager and ex-coach of the Japanese team Nora-Rengo has stepped down as a team representative following a series of allegations mainly concerning misused company funds.

Update (September 10th):

Akidog replaces kizoku as Nora-Rengo owner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).


Update (September 1st):

Twitter user @takigare3 has shared another message from an unnamed source, claiming that Maavie was unpaid during his time in the organisation and that he never received the Pilot Program income. Instead, Maavie's share went to his replacement in the team, SouLBoi.

It is of note, however, that SiegeGG cannot verify the legitimacy of this claim.


The owner, manager, and former coach of Nora-Rengo and the international face of the Japanese R6 scene, Yasuhiro "kizoku" Nishi, has stepped down from his organisation after a long list of allegations came to light around him and his mismanagement of the company.

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Nora-Rengo and kizoku's History

After the Asia-Pacific region was introduced into the Pro League circuit in Season 6, the Japanese scene made a major impact, with various teams attending every event they could up until the Season 10 Finals two years later.

In this time, the most successful Japanese lineup came from the Nora-Rengo (NR) organisation, whose team attended the Season 7, 8, and 9 Finals, as well as both the Paris and Raleigh Majors, and the 2019 Six Invitational. This included top-four finishes in both the Invitational and Season 8 Finals, positioning themselves as one of the top teams in the world at that point. 

While the NR team became internationally known, so did its owner and long-time coach of Yasuhiro "kizoku" Nishi. His on-stage appearance at the Six Invitational led to him quickly becoming a fan favourite. Three months later, he was invited on stage yet again to announce the Season 10 Finals location of Tokoname, Japan, as well as open the event in November itself.

Finally, in their most recent tier-one appearance at the Raleigh Major, kizoku substituted into the playing roster following Tsukasa "Merieux" Asano falling ill on day one of play.

Kizoku at the Season 9 Finals.

Most recently, kizoku gave up his coaching position on the main team to the Brazilian of Arthur "Ar7hur" Schubert in January this year. He still did stay on as a manager for the team, however.

Allegations

As initially reported by @takigare3 on Twitter, there have been allegations from a number of ex-NR staff and players from across multiple games.

Firstly, an ex-Rainbow Six analyst for the team, Ryo "Forte" Katayama, claimed he wasn't paid anything by the organisation on Twitter.

I used to be just a fan.

I was happy when I was able to get into Nora-Rengo as an analyst, albeit for free, and I did my best to make it work.

However, I was told that I would get a small share of the tournament prize money if Nora-Rengo won, or that be able to share some of the proceeds from the sale of skins, but in the end I never got anything.

But, he only complained that I wasn't doing my job. It's a shame because I loved Nora-Rengo.

Another analyst, craft-logic, meanwhile claimed the organisation refused him access to the gaming house after he had applied and joined the team, with the move having previously been promised. As well as this, craft-logic also suggested that the mispaid wages were due to kizoku spending the company's money for his "own personal gain", but has no proof of the claims:

The simple explanation of why Nora-Rengo is so accused is that I was buying and supporting various merchandise for my idols, characters, players, whatever it was that I was pushing for, and the big guy there was using the money I had paid for his own personal gain, and they were doing terrible things to my favourites.

SiegeGG was also informed by a senior ex-player who wishes to stay anonymous that their salary was not paid during their time on the team -- this despite the player having represented them even at international events.

Furthermore, according to a voice log shared by @takigare3, an alleged ex-Rainbow Six pro wished to leave the team due to unpaid wages, but kizoku had not let him while reportedly saying, "there's no point making a contract if a player can leave so easily".

However, in Japan, any employee is allowed to quit a contract at any time, meaning any stipulations preventing that are not allowed. 

Furthermore, @takigare3 also received a message claiming that the current players and staff on Nora-Rengo were told to publicly state that they had been paid, with other claims that kizoku had pocketed most of the Pilot Program money and that the players had apparently only received "Pilot Program salaries" from Ubisoft. "Tens of thousands of dollars per month" worth of salaries, claims the message, have not been paid to the players.

Outside of Rainbow Six, @takigare3 also shared a number of private messages from other ex-NR employees claiming similar stories. First was a player from Nora-Rengo's short-lived Valorant team, which left the organisation three weeks ago, apparently due to the ¥100,000 (US$9,500) promised not being paid out to the players.

Nora-Rengo at the Season 9 Finals.

As well as this, an ex-staff member for the organisation also apparently came forward, claiming that they, too, had never received their promised wages.

Finally, tweets from a player from Nora-Rengo's KNIVES OUT team -- a Chinese mobile battle-royale game -- claimed that when he went to leave the organisation, kizoku stated if he left "I will use my friends to make sure you never work in this industry again".

Nora-Rengo Response

Shortly after these accusations came to light, the sponsors on Nora-Rengo's website -- which included OMEN, Corsair, KONAMI, and Audio-Technica -- were removed one-by-one, causing Nora-Rengo to make an initial statement, saying that the claims were wrong or had been exaggerated, that the organisation was planning to sue those making the claims for defamation, and that they were to make a further statement in a few days' time.

The facts have been extremely greatly exaggerated and twisted in this series of disturbances.

Therefore, we are currently discussing with our lawyers about this case and are considering taking legal action, including civil liability claims and criminal charges, against all those involved in the infringement.

We are also considering civil and criminal legal action for the threatening and defamatory emails that have been sent to us and our clients.

We are considering civil and criminal legal action in this case as well. Once again, we would like to apologize to everyone who has been inconvenienced by this incident.

Now, kizoku has himself made a further four-page statement on Twitter, translated in full into English here, with its summary as such:

...I believe that it is necessary for me to once again apologise and offer an explanation for my doubtless immaturity and the mistakes I’ve made in my private life. On the other hand, there have been many exaggerations and twisting of the truth that have been spread around...

...I regret my actions, which have caused the image of the team that I treasure to take a devastating hit... However, I definitely did not directly do things that caused harm to the players. The rumours about not paying team members their salary and misappropriating Nora Skins for personal gain are untrue. Current players’ salaries are a given, and I even contributed to the home loans of players who were husband and wife, as well as the finances of a player who quit to become a streamer...

...Furthermore, while I certainly have not misappropriated anything, unfortunately I also can’t have said to have been able to provide the players with a generous amount of money. Until the players win something or we get more sponsors, the reality is that players are here on a volunteer basis and sometimes may not get paid...

...I had displayed immature behaviour and negatively impacted the image of the team, and caused a lot of trouble for the esports industry, esports fans, and above all, the team members that were willing to fight to the death for the benefit of the team...

I will officially announce the reorganisation of the team’s management at a later date... I sincerely apologise from the bottom of my heart.

In summary, while kizoku denies the accusations levied against him, he is resigning due to the harm this has caused to the brand and players and likely due to the exit of the organisation's sponsors.

It is unclear what he means when he says "resigns", however, as it is possible that he steps back from his position as manager while still owning a majority of the organisation. The full restructuring of the organisation will be expanded upon at a later date.


Be sure to keep an eye out here at SiegeGG for any further updates to this story as Nora-Rengo undergoes a management overhaul.