Immortals Reportedly Denied League Of Legends Spot; Echo Fox To Gain Entry
Esports franchise Immortals has been "informed that its application to participate" in the North American League Championship Series (NALCS) has "been denied, while esports franchise Echo Fox has been accepted and will receive a permanent spot," according to sources cited by Jacob Wolf of ESPN.com. A source said that denying Immortals a spot in the top North American "League of Legends" circuit comes in part as a "result of that organization's significant financial commitment to create a live viewing experience" for its L.A.-based Overwatch League (OWL) team. Echo Fox will be "required to pay" $10M in franchising fees over the span of the next few years. Immortals will "receive 10 shares in a compensation pool, the most out of all of its peers" who have been denied a spot after previously being a part of the league. The pool "will be comprised" of the $3M additional buy-ins from new owners in the league. With the reported removal of at least four teams, that pool "will have a total" of $12M or more to distribute. Sources said that in addition to Immortals' role in the OWL, Riot Games, which organizes the NALCS, had "concerns around Immortals' finances." Sources said that the team has "operated at a significant loss since its formation" in late '15 and would "not be able to contribute to the revenue share" (ESPN.com, 10/19).
CONFLICT OF INTEREST? ESPN.com's Tyler Erzberger wrote Riot's decision to deny a spot to Immortals "appears to be a long-term decision." Immortals has "become one of the bigger names" in esports, and with the NALCS also located in L.A., a "conflict of interest could occur down the line." Immortals, which was a NALCS finalist this year, could use its success to "indirectly grow and support" its OWL team. The OWL, operated by Riot competitor Activision Blizzard, "kicks off the regular season at the start" of '18. Both leagues "will go head-to-head" in the L.A. market for "at least the first year of OWL's existence." While OWL has "plans to have games played in each city's respective home turf come the second season of the league," in a world where Immortals is both the center of the OWL in L.A. and a part of the NALCS as a full-fledged franchise, it "could cause issues." Esports team Cloud9, which competes against Immortals, was "admitted into the NALCS and has a spot in the OWL, but they have the London spot." In the short term, Riot's decision to exclude Immortals from the NALCS is a "black eye for the league." Riot will have to "wait and hope that another of the reportedly new franchises," like OpTic or the team now owned by the Warriors, "can fill the void that should have never been needed to be filled" (ESPN.com, 10/18).
CAVS PART OF THE FUN: ESPN.com's Wolf cites sources as saying that the Cavaliers have "obtained a slot" in the NALCS. Sources added that the Cavs have brought in "former Call of Duty pro and influencer Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag to head up their operations and are actively recruiting staff in the League of Legends space" (ESPN.com, 10/19).