If you want evidence that the eSports phenomena is a growth industry you need look no further than recent business deals. Not only did the owner of The New Jersey Devils and the 76ers recently buy a stake in Clutch gaming. But more recently there was a massive deal involving Immortals Gaming Club and Infinite Sports and entertainment. The former brought out the latter to the tune of 100 million dollars. You’d be mistaken for thinking I’m quoting Dr Evil, but no, that actually happened.
What have the Immortals purchased?
Infinite is the parent group that owns OpTic gaming and the Houston Outlaws Overwatch team. In an interesting development, they will also inherit a couple of new board members as prominent Infinite investors Neil Leibman and Ray Davis (who co-own the Texas Rangers baseball side) will both be joining the Immortals board. The company now has an estimated worth of 250 million.
Here are where things get really interesting. The organisations have to abide by the gaming rules put in place by Blizzard and Riot games pertaining to their tournaments. According to their rules, one company cannot own more than one team so they will be forced to sell the Houston Outlaws team. It will be interesting to see how this develops with time. You’d have to imagine they would want to keep a hold of their own team, Valiant.
Immortals speak out
In the wake of the deal, the Immortals CEO Ari Segal gave his thoughts on the deal and stated: “We expect there’s going to be general consolidation in the industry and this is the first wave of that.” Whether he was really referencing the industry in general or the intentions of the LA-based company Immortals who are backed by, among others Meg Whitman remains to be seen.
It is a big coup for the company which will take it in new directions. Along with the companies debts and liabilities, it inherits new teams which means from here on that Immortals will not just be competing in Overwatch but in the upcoming Call of Duty league, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. This means that they are now responsible for four separate eSports teams.
What the deal also means is that Immortal gaming will be making a return to a gaming arena it knows all too well. The company is no stranger to League of Legends. The group used to have a team and they competed in the league that was co-founded by Noah Whinston (the ultimate college drop-out come good). The problem was they were unable to start a franchise in the championship series and now they have purchased one. It will be interesting to see how the company fairs now it is competing on so many fronts.
The bigger picture
If what Segal is correct and this is just the first of many big business moves as companies look to branch out and incorporate other sports what does it mean for the eSports landscape? In the future could companies that only own one team competing in one area become obsolete? Is investing this amount of money into eSports a wise move?
It is fair to say the industry is growing at a rapid pace, but could it be too fast? There are those that predict that the eSports industry may be a bubble and what do all bubbles do eventually? However while the prizes become greater and money is flying in from sponsorship, and ads on Youtube and all other corners the industry will continue to flourish. The future is bright for eSports. For now at least.