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The next in the 'Left 4 Dead' series: the new CPL

in glhf

Back from the dead, crawled out of it’s shallow unmarked grave; the CPL is back and looking to snack on some tasty gamers (or at least their wallets). It’d be looking for brains but apparently those are rather scarce among its meal of choice, judging from the warm welcome this news is receiving in some parts.

The CPL’s violent implosion as the CGS was getting started, leaving scores of teams and players unpaid, wasn’t enough apparently for the circuit to be written off completely in any form.

A synopsis, shall we?

In 2008, news that the CPL and all its holdings had been sold to a holdings company based in the UAE was more or less consumed by the gaming ‘press’ and broadcast around. A new company called ‘CPL, LLC’ was to be setup. No evidence of these transactions can be found any longer save for scattered posts on various blogs basically parroting the press releases; the official posts from the CPL are gone, and the firm making the purchase was never named. This was the last of the activity from the organization for well over a year.

In late 2009, it was reported that this group ran a SF4 tournament in conjunction with a ‘community event’ (seems to have been a WCG stop) in Chengdu, China. The winner would reportedly receive a trip out to the upcoming Dreamhack event at which the CPL would be running additional competitions. Dreamhack posted pictures of some document signing formalities, and nothing of the actual tournament. The man in the black cowboy hat is Scott Valencia.

Still more regurgitation by the gaming press is seen leading into and out of this Dreamhack event. SK Gaming interviewed and quoted Scott Valencia as the ‘CEO of the CPL’ – despite the fact that LLCs, by definition, don’t have CEOs, and generally confirming that nothing was essentially different about the ownership and management of the CPL. Valencia was still there and driving despite having reported that the CPL assets had been sold.

The bombshell

A few months later, in April of this year, Tonya Welsh had a (rather long and rambling) tell-all about the farce that was the supposed transfer of ownership to an Abu Dhabi venture capital firm, and just who is still driving the bus:

But drama surrounding the purchase and the press release started very quickly, and our first couple of weeks were invested in further burying the true identities of the purchasing group. Cadred announced that they knew the identity of the main person behind the purchase. People were calling around trying to gather information.

From Mr. Valencia to the partners on September 8, 2008:

this is very disturbing. i can’t believe this has gotten out. I am not sure why they have not gone public, but i am glad. we need to find a way to misdirect and find the leak….

So we hired a press manager in the middle-east for a one-time statement that bolstered the idea that we were middle-eastern. And you all bought it. And we breathed a sigh of relief. You’re still buying it.

After that initial panic that we would be ‘discovered’ passed, we set about registering the corporation. We first established a mailing address in the UK – a dummy business location to throw off those who would seek more information about us. Then Mr. Valencia started the process of setting up the corporation. We decided how the shares would be split. We decided to base the corporation in Seychelles to avoid paying taxes. I have to laugh at the following two events listed on the history page of the former owner’s website:

August 25
NewWorld sells 90% of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) to an investment group from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

November 14
NewWorld sells the Cyberathlete Amateur League (CAL) to the CPL Holding Group, LTD from Mahé, Seychelles.

Both of those events suggest two different companies bought the CPL, then CAL, when in reality they were the same group – just us four – hiding behind as much “fluff” as we could manage just to keep people from knowing the truth.

I had tried to keep up with the movements of the CPL but even that Nov 14 note quoted above slipped past me. Confident that nobody would try to follow the paper trail about them – gamers are a generally apathetic group and can barely be provoked to action even if you don’t pay out promised prizes, let alone help themselves out – the CPL circus, with Valencia as ring leader, marched on.

Feats that Lehman Brothers would have been proud of

Just so we make sure everyone’s keeping score at home, NewWorld had already announced the complete sale of CAL (whatever that means – a domain? wheee) and a 90% stake in the CPL by January 2010.

In May 2010, shortly after Tonya’s series of posts, it was announced that all assets from the CPL and CAL had been sold by NewWorld, again, to a company named WoLong Ventures Pte. Ltd., based in Singapore. This would mark the second time that these assets had been sold off completely by NewWorld.

Ok, this is basic reality check territory here – you can’t sell the same company off twice. It’s called fraud. The new CPL has already established a well-documented track record of misinformation and flat-out lies, without even running a proper event yet. (I’m sorry, a tiny SF4 tournament of which there was no coverage or documentation that it even happened doesn’t count.)

WoLong Ventures Pte. Ltd. seems to be a valid, operational, on-the-books entity in Singapore. The entity ‘CPL Digital Entertainment Pte. Ltd.’ as referenced at the bottom of the new CPL site, does not stand up to the same rudimentary checks made available by the government of Singapore; as far as I’m aware only Singapore uses the abbreviation Pte. Ltd. to reference ‘private limited corporation’. At the time of publication, I am actively pursuing documentation from the government of Singapore pursuant to the establishment and ownership behind WoLong Ventures, and will report further as I am able to (or not able to) obtain more information.

In the meantime, please resist the urge to get excited about the new CPL. It’s anything but new, and quite frankly I’m shocked at the level of apathy towards this series of events across the entire scene, and the willingness to turn a blind eye to the past transgressions of this ‘professional gaming league.’ I’ll continue to try and do the job that the gaming press is either unwilling or unable to do, until we get to the bottom of this.