Streamer Phantoml0rd wins three-year Twitch lawsuit

CS:GO player James Varga was banned from the platform in 2016

Former streamer James 'Phantoml0rd' Varga has won a legal battle with Twitch, following a lifetime platform ban.

Back in 2016, Varga was permanently banned from streaming on the platform for allegedly violating multiple partner guidelines -- one notable offense being a financial affiliation with in-game skin gambling site, CS:GO Shuffle.

Varga filed a case against Twitch in early 2018, aiming to sue the company for 'significant monetary damage' caused by his inability to stream. The case also alleged that Twitch failed to give written notice of violations or the contracted 30-day period to address them.

After a three- year lawsuit, Varga announced via Twitter that he has won the suit on all counts, and has been awarded $20,720 in damages from the platform.

Twitch hit back at Varga with a countersuit in May 2018, saying that he was "warned about and received penalties on Twitch for streaming content that violated his contract."

Twitch's response also named Varga as a co-owner of CS:GO Shuffle. The filing stated that Varga "streamed promotions for a gambling website he had an undisclosed financial interest in".

Despite his win, it looks as though Varga will not be returning to Twitch.

In an email to PC Gamer, a spokesperson for the company stated: "While we regret the procedural failings related to Mr. Varga's termination in 2016, he repeatedly violated Twitch's Community Guidelines and exposed our community to harmful content.

"We absolutely stand behind our decision to terminate his account, and he will not be allowed back onto the service."

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Twitch suspends popular CSGO skin gambling streamer Phantoml0rd

Twitch warned you.

Allegations were raised earlier this week that James "PhantomL0rd" Varga, a Twitch streamer who according to PCGamesN has—or had—nearly 1.4 million followers, is also the owner of CSGO skin gambling site CSGOShuffle, which he heavily promoted on his channel without any sort of disclosure. The claims came to light after a hacker who was actually trying to rip the site off discovered Skype logs of conversations between Varga and CSGOShuffle coder Duhau Joris, which he provided to YouTuber Richard Lewis .   

There's no photo of Varga standing over a body with a smoking gun in his hand, but Lewis says the exchanges between him and Joris “heavily suggest, almost to a degree of certainty, that PhantomL0rd is the owner of CSGOShuffle, and on top of that, he has gambled exclusively with 'house money' taken from the business.” The logs he presents in his video would appear to bear that out: Varga makes some rather large payments to Joris, seeks help winning bets, and appears clearly to be the man in charge.

The whole thing has powerful echoes of the recent CSGO Lotto fiasco , in that it appears all but certain that Varga was using his channel to promote a gambling site that he has a financial interest in. This is not allowed by either the FTC or Valve, and Twitch recently clarified its own position on the matter, which is basically that if a streamer breaks a third-party's terms of service, he also breaks Twitch's, and will be punished accordingly. 

And that's what appears to have happened to Phantoml0rd, whose Twitch channel has been closed “due to terms of service violations.” Specific reasons for the shutdown aren't provided, and Varga himself seems to have gone to ground: He hasn't tweeted or posted a video to his YouTube channel since July 16, when he proclaimed—ironically, as it turns out—that his channel was about to undergo a big change. The CSGOShuffle website is also currently down. 

I've reached out to Varga for comment, and will update if and when I receive a reply.

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Judge rules that banned streamer Phantoml0rd can sue Twitch for more than $50,000

A judge has ruled that Phantoml0rd's contract with Twitch includes an "unconscionable" clause, which enables the banned streamer to ask for much higher than $50,000 in damages.

As part of Twitch's crackdown on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling streams back in 2016, the site banned streamer James “Phantoml0rd” Varga. Though Twitch did not specify the reason for the ban at the time, it was believed to have been a result of Varga's alleged links to what may have a been a rigged skin gambling site.

Nearly two years later, Varga took Twitch to court for banning him over "unsubstantiated, false accusations," and loss of income, which resulted in Twitch counter-suing the streamer over violations of the site's policies.

Although this legal fight remains ongoing, Varga recently scored a win. According to a Dexerto report, Phantoml0rd's original contract with Twitch included a clause that prevents the streamer from asking for any more than $50,000 in damages, should he decide to sue Twitch.

Now, a judge has ruled that the $50,000 cap is "unconscionable". "Varga’s monthly income averaged over $5,000 per month and appeared to cluster around $10,000 per month… so the $50,000 cap is incommensurate as to be unconscionable," ruled Judge Karnow.

Cover image for YouTube video

This essentially means Varga can sue Twitch for much higher than $50,000 in damages, which could have much wider implications on contracts Twitch has with other streamers, since this clause is now out in the wild.

The judge's ruling was made despite the streamer having not actually read the contract, both when it was first drafted and two years later when he renewed it with Twitch, something the judge called out but didn't feel was enough for the $50,000 cap to stand.

The judge also made a point about the "disparity in legal sophistication" between Varga and Twitch's legal team, which the judge says puts the site at a clear advantage.

It's worth pointing out that this particular ruling has no bearing on Varga's actual case against Twitch. This simply allows the streamer to demand much higher figures for his alleged lost income, should the suit actually reach that point.

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PhantomL0rd reportedly wins lawsuit vs. Twitch, awarded over $20,000 in damages

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James “PhantomL0rd” Varga has reportedly won his lawsuit against Twitch, which began more than two years ago in San Francisco.

The former streamer, who sought damages after he was banned from Twitch in 2016, claimed on Twitter he had won the suit “on all counts,” and that his victory was a win for “ALL streamers.”

I WONNNNNNNNNNNNN!!! I WON MY LAWSUIT VS TWITCH ON ALL COUNTS!!!!! Twitch LOST EVERYTHING, including the fraud claim against me for the CSGOShuffle allegations!!! This is a win for ALL streamers! Twitch can’t bully, lie & treat streamers unfairly the way they have for years!!! pic.twitter.com/G0gxqiBkRQ — PhantomL0rd (@PhantomL0rd) April 23, 2021

Streaming reporter Zach Bussey tweeted that Varga was awarded nearly $21,000 in the verdict, although this figure, Bussey says, “seems like a bit of a win financially” because Twitch could have lost more after a ruling in October 2019 that removed the $50,000 cap for damages.

Twitch banned Varga on July 19, 2016. Varga was reported to have owned CSGO Shuffle, a website that allowed players to gamble on weapon skins. Varga allegedly obtained betting percentages and house money to use on the website without disclosing this to his viewers on Twitch or YouTube.

Varga claimed in his initial filing Twitch had “never provided any formal explanation for his suspension; instead, Twitch has made only vague and ever-changing allegations of breaches of the Terms of Service.” He also said Twitch allowed him to stream gambling content for 30 minutes at a time.

Twitch, however, said in a 2018 cross-complaint Varga “began abusing Twitch’s services to scam other Twitch users and its community for his own financial gain.” It said it banned him after about a year of various warnings and penalties to “ensure the integrity of its rules and the content broadcast on its services.”

Dot Esports has reached out to Twitch for comment on the ruling.

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PhantomL0rd

Former Twitch streamer James ‘PhantomL0rd’ Vargas, who had been banned from the streaming platform back in 2016 for misleading his viewers regarding CSGO skin gambling, has reportedly won his lawsuit against the website. However, his demands for $35 million in damages weren’t quite met.

The lawsuit was launched by PhantomL0rd himself in 2019 against Twitch. In the lawsuit, he accused the platform of “unsubstantiated” and “false accusations” against him and banning him from it.

The lawsuit ended in PhantomL0rd winning on all counts and receiving a sum of $20,720.34 in damages from Twitch. Needless to say, the sum was significantly less than what he was looking for.

Vargas took it to Twitter to celebrate his victory against Twitch. “Twitch LOST EVERYTHING, including the fraud claim against me for the CSGOShuffle allegations,” he said in a post . “This is a win for ALL streamers! Twitch can’t bully, lie & treat streamers unfairly the way they have for years!”

I WONNNNNNNNNNNNN!!! I WON MY LAWSUIT VS TWITCH ON ALL COUNTS!!!!! Twitch LOST EVERYTHING, including the fraud claim against me for the CSGOShuffle allegations!!! This is a win for ALL streamers! Twitch can’t bully, lie & treat streamers unfairly the way they have for years!!! pic.twitter.com/G0gxqiBkRQ — PhantomL0rd (@PhantomL0rd) April 23, 2021

Twitch hasn’t released a statement regarding the results of the lawsuit as of yet.

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James “PhantomL0rd” Varga reportedly won his lawsuit against Twitch on Friday, with the court siding in Varga's favor on all counts. The counts listed against Twitch in the original complaint included Breach of Contract, Intentional Misrepresentation, and Violation of Section 17200 of the business and professions code, among others.

The lawsuit was filed two years ago on February 14th, 2018 in the County of San Francisco court. In the suit, Varga alleged that Twitch failed to provide a formal explanation for the ban that Twitch issued to Varga in 2016. Varga was seeking 35 million dollars in damages initially, and while the amount of money that he won in the suit has not been released publicly, Twitch reporter Zach Bussey claimed that Varga won just over $20,000.

Varga was suspended from Twitch in 2016, after Twitch alleged that Varga used his CS:GO Skin gambling site CSGO Shuffle  to scam Twitch users by controlling the betting percentages and other backend aspects of the site. Twitch also argued in their 2018 counter-complaint against Varga that he violated their content guidelines against "adult-oriented products or services" by producing gambling content, and that they had warned him of possible penalties multiple times in the lead up to the ban.

Varga responded to his ban by filing a lawsuit, in which he claimed that "[Twitch indefinitely suspended his] account. . . without any explanation, prior written notice or any opportunity for Varga to cure any perceived violation of his obligations."  He further alleged that Twitch went on to change its explanation for the ban several times. Today the court ruled in favor of the streamer, agreeing that Twitch violated the law and breached its contract with Varga and awarding Varga nearly $21,000.

Many are hailing the court victory as a win for streamers everywhere since it has the potential to set a precedent that Twitch is required to clearly explain why someone was banned from their platform. Unexplained Twitch bans have been an ongoing problem in the Twitch community for some time, many are hoping that today's decision will force Twitch to finally communicate reasons for bans clearly or risk legal consequences.

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PhantomL0rd wins lawsuit vs. Twitch over 2016 CS:GO skin gambling ban

PhantomL0rd wins lawsuit vs. Twitch over 2016 CS:GO skin gambling ban

After having sued Twitch in 2018 for an alleged unjustified ban due to fraud accusations, James “Phantoml0rd” Varga has announced through his personal Twitter account the resolution of the case where he was awarded the victory against the streaming platform.

Thanks to this verdict by the California justice, Twitch will have to pay a total of $20,720.34 USD, which although far from the $35 million Varga was seeking as compensation, is a victory that sets a precedent within the Twitch streamer community.

Next, we will review why this unusual situation started and what transpired during the Phantoml0rd v. Twitch lawsuit.

Phantoml0rd v. Twitch

Back in 2016, one of the biggest scandals in the CS:GO scene took place with a fraud allegation that involved the skin gambling platform known as CSGOShuffle, which gained big traction at the time thanks to partnerships with many content creators.

twitch phantoml0rd case lawsuit

One of the most prominent suspects who was pointed out as the main perpetrator due to hacker Duhau Joris' leaks was James "Phantoml0rd" Varga who ended up being banned from Twitch due to his attempt to "promote and profit from an external website".

At that time, the legal representative of Varga argued that "Twitch improperly suspended the account and terminated the contract without offering any explanation, notice or prior notification about it."

It would not be until January 2017 when Phantoml0rd was given reasons for the suspension of his channel which connected him with an illicit act. In February 2018, the streamer decided to file a lawsuit against Twitch in the Supreme Court of California, due to false accusations and breach of contract.

twitch phantoml0rd case lawsuit

Derived from this, Twitch made a cross-complaint shortly before the hearings began, where they mentioned that Varga “began abusing Twitch's services to scam other Twitch users and its community for his own financial gain”, banning him after about a year of various warnings and penalties to "ensure the integrity of its rules and the content broadcast on its services."

Then, after a time without knowing more about the case, Twitch filed more paperwork in July 2020, asking the Superior Court of California to dismiss the case according to a report by Richard Lewis , a request that was denied by the judge hence the legal battle between both parties continuing without a winner, until this date.

After more than two years since the initial lawsuit was filed, and with Varga's reputation "seriously damaged", Phantoml0rd made known through a tweet the final verdict in which he has been granted victory against Twitch's fraud allegations.

EzsO00lXMBMVGZf.jpg:large

In addition, Phatoml0rd tweeted out that the jury in charge of the case found Twitch guilty of committing fraud asking his followers to "let that sink in" in emotion and disbelief.

At the moment, Twitch has not provided an official statement about the ruling, which is not surprising due to the difference in magnitude that the platform has achieved today compared to 2016.

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Why Was PhantomLord Banned From Twitch?

Why Was PhantomLord Banned From Twitch?

James Varga, popularly known as PhantomLOrd, is a video gamer, Twitch streamer, and League of Legends player. He gets paid for playing video games and had been using the Twitch platform to make his living. 

However, Twitch banned him for more than three years due to his inappropriate behaviors. Twitch claimed that he mislead the viewers over skin gambling in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

James sued Twitch over his ban, and the trial began in April 2019 in San Francisco. James and Twitch had been doing the lawsuit lambada for over two years, with James seeking $35 million in damages for Twitch which banned him in 2016. 

PhantomLOrd Vs. Twitch Lawsuit Drama Explained

PhantomLOrd, 32, is finally having his day in court after he sued Twitch for banning him over “unsubstantiated, false accusations,” misrepresenting his character, and financial damage. 

        View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by PhantomL0rd (@phantoml0rdd)

On the other hand, Twitch explained that they banned him for “inappropriate content, non-gaming content, and violations of the site’s policies. 

Plaintiff’s account was suspended for other, independent reasons besides broadcasting non-gaming content. It is beyond dispute that, irrespective of his non-gaming broadcasting, he committed a long string of serious violations of Twitch’s policies, which had already led to a prior suspension, providing ample reason to terminate.

As the legal fight between James and Twitch remains ongoing, PhantomLOrd scored a win after the judges made a ruling in favor of him. 

According to Dexerto report, 

Phantoml0rd’s original contract with Twitch included a clause that prevents the streamer from asking for any more than $50,000 in damages, should he decide to sue Twitch. Now, a judge has ruled that the $50,000 cap is “unconscionable”. “Varga’s monthly income averaged over $5,000 per month and appeared to cluster around $10,000 per month… so the $50,000 cap is incommensurate as to be unconscionable,” 

Court has allowed PhantomLOrd to proceed with his lawsuit against Twitch, claiming damages beyond the stated $50,000.

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  1. Phantoml0rd Claims Twitch is Silencing Him After Lawsuit Win

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  3. PhantomL0rd Can Win More Than $50,000 From Twitch Now

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  5. PhantomL0rd Lawsuit Seeks $35 Million in Damages from Twitch

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