As you might have noticed, it’s recently become hard to surf the gaming side of the interwebs without stumbling upon news of some team or another being bought or invested in by mainstream entities. Going in the same vein, ESPN’s Jacob Wolf’s recently reported that a media company called Webedia, which has recently been linked to the French football club, Paris Saint-Germain, bought out Team HUMA’s Challenger Series Europe spot for a sum in the range of $70,000.
Keeping in mind the much less visible nature of the Challenger Series when compared to LCS, that price might actually be correct, especially when you keep in mind that HUMA’s owner, Behdad Jaafarian had to sell the team as soon as possible due to a Riot Games ruling, which banned him from ownership in Riot-affiliated leagues due to failing to pay players the minimum salary required by league rules.
The team went on sale around the middle of August, however, it’s not too surprising that nobody snapped it up. After all, with the lesser profile of the Challenger Series comes the obstacles when trying to find sponsorships, which are an integral part of League team’s revenue streams. Why would a company sponsor a Challenger team, which might as well be anonymous for most League fans, when it could be associated with a lower-tier LCS team, which would probably give it more exposure?
Of course, due to the general interest in eSports, the popularity of League in particular, and the growing sense that you MUST invest now or not do it at all, because it will be too late soon, player salaries and LCS spot prices are getting higher and higher with each split. At this point, some people might be starting to consider the possibility that investing in a Challenger Series spot, getting a roster capable of qualifying for the LCS, and then replacing any players who aren’t likely to cut it at the higher level might provide a better ROI, risking the possibility of going bust if the team fails to qualify for the LCS. Of course, there’s no guarantee that your money won’t poof away even if you cough up the seven figures you will probably need to buy a team’s spot in the LCS.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that companies and organisations interested in eSports see the upside in getting into eSports, however, they aren’t willing to risk millions in order to do so. In that case, getting in at something like Challenger level might provide a cheaper alternative with less risk and potentially similar advantages in the future. It could very well be that this is the reasoning,which led Paris Saint-Germain and its partner, Webedia, to acquire Team HUMA’s Challenger Series spot.