If you thought that eSports was a joke and that the competitive growth of the market isn't serious, you really need to reconsider how you view the industry. Serious investors from other competitive sports are starting to pump money and ownership rights into the eSports sector, including various NBA team owners who just picked up one of the most popular teams in gaming right now.
According to Game Informer, the owners of the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Dodgers, the Major League Soccers' Los Angeles Football Club and the CEO of Mandaly Entertainment Group, Peter Guber, just purchased Team Liquid. Guber wasn't alone in the purchase, Ted Leonsis, who owns Monumental Sports and Entertainment, also joined in on the purchase. Leonsis' Monumental Sports has ownership stakes in the Washington Mystics, the Washington Wizards and the Washington Valor.
There are some serious financial backers behind the purchase of Team Liquid. So what makes the team worth so much to these big major sports league investors? Well, Team Liquid has some of the best players within their organization that have taken top spots in some of the biggest eSports games on the market.
Team Liquid is currently tearing it up in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive leagues, as well as Halo 5 and Overwatch. Not only are they dominating in the first-person shooter scene, but they also have top players storming the FGC as well, with legendary players like "Ken" and "Hungrybox" dominating Super Smash Bros, and "NuckleDu" putting in the work in Street Fighter V, even managing to eke out a win at last year's Apex tournament and Combo Breaker.
They have multi-national teams and players taking top spots in other games as well, such as Blizzard's StarCraft II, where they've managed to score some top international wins throughout this past year. Team Liquid is also probably best known within the MOBA community, having managed some huge wins over the years in Riot's League of Legends.
They haven't been knocking it out of the box in the big tournaments this year for League of Legends or Dota 2, but "Hungrybox" has been taking home some major wins for them in the Super Smash Bros circuit since he joined Team Liquid in 2015; he's been placing within the top 5 for the past two competitive seasons.
They don't exactly say what their focus will be for Team Liquid now that the NBA veterans have gotten involved with the eSports team, but others such as Magic Johnson and former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones have also joined the board.
I do wonder if they will have Team Liquid put more effort into the big-match tournaments for high-profile and highly watched games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or League of Legends? With Riot working to overhaul and raise the prestige of their game's eSports pedigree, it would seem like the new NBA investors would want Team Liquid taking home as many tournaments wins in the game as possible.
This marks yet another eSports team picked up by NBA investors, and I don't think those investments are going to be slowing down anytime soon... not if eSports continues to grow at such an exponential rate.