In the past few years, the world of eSports has grown immensely. What started as a bunch of friends playing in local LAN tournaments turned into a multi-million-dollar industry, with huge investments into teams. Prominent eSports include Call of Duty, League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offense, and Halo. Tournaments can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars in prize money, to $1,000,000. Players are treated like professional athletes and are commanding 6 figure salaries from playing professionally. There are a lot of factors that helped with the growth of eSports, including developer support and large investments, as well as social media sites like YouTube and Twitch.
Many teams have become “household names” within the gaming community. eSports juggernauts such as Team Liquid, Team SoloMid, OpTiC Gaming, Team EnVy, and Virtus Pro, just to name a few, have gained large followings within the community. All of these teams, and many more, have acquired large investments from tech companies to professional athletes. Here are just a few teams that have had large investments:
- Rise Nation (Games: Call of Duty)
Owner: NFL offensive lineman Rodger Saffold
Rise Nation was one of, if not, the first eSports team to be owned/invested by a pro athlete. In a recent interview, Saffold explained how his passion for both competition and gaming led him to investing in what he believes will be a major industry in the future. His investment so far has paid off, as Rise Nation has become a top Call of Duty team, and recently placed in the top 10 at the Call of Duty Championships, in September of this year.
- NRG (Games: League of Legends, Super Smash Bros, Counter-Strike)
NRG, a rather new team to the LCS, is owned by none other than NBA legend, Shaquille O’Neal, and is invested by MLB players Jimmy Rollins and Alex Rodriguez. While they have yet to place in the top 5 in any league, with such a large backing, this team has potential to grow in the coming years.
- Virtus.Pro (Games: Starcraft, Counter-Strike)
Invested by Russia’s richest man, Alisher Usmanov founder of a Russian bank firm, invested a whopping $100 Million into this Poland based team. One of the most winningest Counter Strike teams in the history of the eSport, with earnings in the millions, Virtus.Pro is now a household name within the eSports community.
- Team EnVy (Games: Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Gears of War, Halo, Overwatch) What started as a Call of Duty 4 team in the MLG Pro Circuit, turned into a multi-platform eSports giant. EnVy, having teams in Call of Duty, CS:GO, League of Legends, Gears of War, Halo, and many more, they have proven to be a top name in the eSports world. In 2016, the team closed a multi-million dollar deal with SierraMaya360, a venture capital, to move the team to Charlotte NC and open an eSports facility. The team won $800,000 and the Call of Duty Championship this past September at COD XP
- Renegades (Games: Call of Duty, Counter-Strike)
Although the team has struggled and had player controversy, including being kicked out of the LCS and forfeiting their match at CoD XP 2016, Celtics player Jonas Jerebko bought the team for an undisclosed amount, and moved to Detroit.