And there’s another one. NBA team dealing with an eSports team, that is. Miami HEAT announced that they have formed a strategic partnership with Misfits, an eSports team formed in 2016, that is going to play in the EU League of Legends Championship Series. The organization also has teams in Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Super Smash Bros., and Hearthstone. Their new partners, Miami HEAT are also one of the better new-ish NBA teams, which achieved a lot in a reasonably short time. Hopefully, the partnership will bear fruit for both sides of the deal.
According to the official announcement released by Miami HEAT, they have entered a “strategic partnership” with Misfits. It involved HEAT acquiring a stake (NOT majority ownership) in Misfits, in return for HEAT to “assist in all duties including marketing, branding, promotion, retail, digital and sponsorship activation on behalf of the franchise, and to cross-promote the HEAT and Misfits,” according to the announcement on Miami HEAT website at nba.com/heat.
“The Miami HEAT pride ourselves on being innovative in all aspects of sports and business,” said HEAT Chief Executive Officer Nick Arison. “For us, it made perfect sense to partner with Misfits, a young and ambitious franchise in a sport that is blazing a trail in terms of 21st century recreational competition amongst Millennials.”
The reasons behind the partnership are actually sound. With the Miami HEAT PR machine behind them, Misfits will have an easier time getting sponsors, both gaming-related and non-endemic. In return, the Miami HEAT brand will be exposed to a target audience sports orgs have been having a hard time reaching for a long time now—Millennials. We have talked about this in the past on drakemoon.com/blog, sports orgs are having problems reaching their usual audience because young males are no longer watching sports as much as they used to. Instead, a good segment of that audience was taken over by eSports.
While Misfits is a new brand, it had some success already, making it a worthwhile investment. The LoL team qualified for the LCS quite easily, from Challenger, showing that the leadership of the team does have at least some clue on how to run an eSports org, the Overwatch team is ranked third in the world and with Overwatch League and it’s local teams announced, especially when the League is most likely to start in North America first, Miami Misfits is all but guaranteed. It’s quite likely that Misfits’ LoL team is an afterthought at best. The partnership is being established with an eye towards Overwatch League. With a team that’s third in the world, Misfits are in a very strong position.