[toc]A rare business opportunity has just sprouted in eSports.
If you haven’t heard, two teams from the NA LCS, Renegades and Team Dragon Knight, must sell their spots. If you want more details, you can read about it here.
It’s unfortunate, really, but it allows some pretty big investors to jumpstart their eSports endeavors almost right out of the gates. A good thing out of a bad scenario.
What is an LCS spot?
The North American League of Legends Championships series is the highest level of competitive play in arguably the most popular video game in the world. However, spots are limited to only 10 teams, and rarely do new teams pop in and out of the LCS.
These 10 teams gain the benefits of not only Riot Games’ player stipend (which helps pay for player salary and other expenses), but also a level of exposure that yields high-end sponsorship opportunities. Aside from the notable endemic sponsors that provide for these teams (i.e. Razer, Corsair, Intel, and Astro), some teams attract non-endemics too like Nissan and even Geico.
And that’s no surprise.
The LCS only runs on weekends, and usually nets more than 250,000 concurrent viewers at one time, most of whom are within the prime demographic of 18-25 and have disposable income.
Teams that do well have huge followings, and if they make it to the Playoffs or even the World Championships, sponsors of said teams can have more than 1.5 million eyes on their logos and products at one time. These numbers rival traditional sports like the NBA, MLB, and even the NFL.
With two spots open, and tons of predictions up in the air, let’s explore some notable potential buyers and why they’re a big deal.
Who might buy the LCS spots?
The titan of eSports. Optic Gaming’s fan base encompasses a large portion of the Call of Duty community, one of the most popular selling annual titles.
This is important, as its following on social media reaches far above the millions, and its players and content have individual followings that net more than millions of views. Yes, everything about Optic is described in the millions.
Just recently, the team has made its debut in other games like CSGO and Halo, and if given a chance, there’s no doubt the team will want to shine its light onto League of Legends. It has the power, fan base, and structure to make it work, and the name alone will attract plenty of sponsors.
One of optic’s most notable rivals.
While they don’t have equal numbers, EnvyUs is one of the most storied and respected eSports teams in the world, with top talent in every game it touches.
I’m sure a lot of fans would love to see an Optic versus EnvyUs rivalry in the LCS. I for one, just respect how the team treats its players, and it could have a huge influence on how outsiders see eSports.
Plus, the team just took on a large investor, so it has the cash to spend.
The thought of Mark Cuban purchasing a team is mainly an inside joke in eSports. But the man has the money, and he’s definitely had enough exposure to consider the investment.
League fans on Reddit are already asking for it, and the Dallas Mavericks’ owner has been a vocal pro-eSports voice in the past, calling anti-eSports talking head Colin Cowherd an “idiot when it comes to eSports.”
He’s even hinted previously at his interest in buying an LCS spot. Well, here’s his chance.
It comes as no surprise. Former Laker Rick Fox is the current owner of Team Echo Fox, and Shaquille O’Neal has stakes in Team NRG. It’s probably time we added a billionaire to the roster of eSports owners.
More venture capital funding
A team funded, and essentially owned, by venture capital is not as exciting of a thought as Mark Cuban purchasing a team, but it’s a large possibility some outside investors will pool resources together to try and bid for a spot.
Currently, Team Immortals, the third seed and one of the most dominant new additions to the LCS is funded by venture capital, and at the rate the team’s popularity rises, I’d say the investors are getting their money’s worth.
Currently, some notable investors make up the key players of those who put a stake into Immortals:
- Peter Levin, the president of Lionsgate Interactive Venture and Games
- Allen Debevoise, a chairman at Machinima
- Steve Kaplan, a co-owner of the pro basketball franchise Memphis Grizzlies
- Brian Lee, famous for co-founding startups with celebrities like Kim Kardashian
- Paul Rappoport, COO at the XPRIZE
In addition to these names, many more comprise the ownership group.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if bigger money comes in and a new group looks to challenge those above.
An opportunity like this won’t happen again
The odds of two teams being forced to sell their spots likely won’t happen again. Period.
If you have the money, you’ll later have to chance your investment in the Challenger Series and climb your way to a spot on the LCS. While that’s possible, it’s difficult. Now, all you have to do is bid for a team, and you’ll have your claim in the actual pro leagues.
With that said, plenty of eyes, and big money, will be trying to grab the two LCS spots. Who do you think it will be? And do you think it’s worth the investment?