ESPN’s Jacob Wolf is one busy dude these days. In between reporting about roster changes before they happen, the reporter also penned a report about the possibility of Wesley Edens, co-owner of Milwaukee Bucks and co-chairman of the Fortress Investment Group working to buy the NA LCS spot, which currently belongs to Cloud9’s Challenger team. Together with the spot, Edens is supposed to be buying out four of the five players’ contracts to Cloud9 as well, according to Wolf’s sources.
If the information provided in the ESPN article pans out, Cloud9 is expected to receive $2.5 million from the whole transaction, with the spot costing $1.8 million and the contracts taking up further $700,000 to buy out. Which players are reported to move to the new org and what’s going to happen to the last one? Well, An “Balls” Van Le, Hai “Hai” Lam, Johnny “Altec” Ru, and Daerek “LemonNation” Hart are expected to be bought out, while the team’s Jungler, Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia is supposed to stay signed to CLoud9, moving to the teams LCS roster. His position on the roster, main or sub, is to be determined.
This deal would show how profitable Challenger Series farming could be for top teams in the region. Reportedly, quite a bit of some team’s income came from getting a second roster to qualify for the LCS and then selling the spot for a tidy profit. Riot Games did not like that this was happening, however. As a result, they ruled that even if a team was to win in the Promotion Tournament, it would be ineligible for promotion if it is owned by an already existing LCS team. As a result, the most Challenger Series will do for LCS teams will be a place to allow their prospective players to gain some experience without a big financial incentive to actually do well.
If the rumor of Milwaukee Bucks co-owner buying an LCS spot turn out to be true, Bucks would be the fourth NBA-related entity to gain a stake in the League of Legends Championship Series. Previously, former LA Laker Rick Fox established Echo Fox, Philadelphia 76ers bought Team Dignitas, Golden State Warriors co-owner and his group, aXiomatic, purchased Team Liquid, while the Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Steam Kaplan had some success in the NA LCS with Immortals, owned by a fund he has a stake in. Ownership by mainstream sports orgs and personalities is the future of eSports. Let’s hope that this ESPN report by Jacob Wolf comes true. The future will come faster if it does.