Philadelphia 76ers acquire Team Dignitas, Apex

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Team Dignitas

The Philadelphia 76ers' ownership group has acquired controlling stakes in both Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming and plan to merge the two under the Dignitas name, according to a press release from the organization Monday. The move makes the Sixers the first professional North American sports team to own an esports organization.

Dignitas managing director Michael O'Dell will continue with the new, Sixers-owned Dignitas as the team's president, while former Apex co-owner Michael Slan will serve as vice-president and general manager. Gaming executive and investor Greg Richardson will act as chairman of the new Dignitas organization.

The release states that "the Sixers intend to manage the day-to-day operations of Team Dignitas," including marketing and sponsorship strategies but also allocating resources to player development and wellness.

The newly-merged Dignitas inherits the League of Legends NA LCS spot retained by Apex Gaming after placing 7th in the NA LCS 2016 Summer Split.

Dignitas' Heroes of the Storm team is currently the strongest in Europe and will represent the region at that game's Fall Global Championship, set to take place at BlizzCon in Anaheim, CA, from Nov. 4-5. They also have a rapidly-improving Danish Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, an Overwatch squad and a SMITE roster.

Dignitas has had over a decade of experience in the esports space, but O'Dell said that the arrangement gives the team a leg up over the competition in more than a few areas.

"This is a landmark day in eSports history and for this franchise. Entering into a partnership with such a strong organization will give us an undeniable advantage in attracting the world’s best players and an opportunity to compete at the highest level," he wrote. "Our connection to the legendary Philadelphia 76ers brand and business organization will be a differentiating factor for Team Dignitas as we enter the next phase of our development."

The press release states that the relationship between the two esports organizations and the Sixers was "fostered by" talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, also known as WME/IMG.

Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil said in the release that the acquisition of both the organization and personnel should provide the newly-merged Dignitas with the tools it needs to succeed.

“The attractiveness of this deal is as much about the people as it is the opportunity," he wrote. "Bringing together gaming industry luminaries including Greg Richardson, Michael O’Dell and David and Michael Slan puts us on track to build the most respected and dominant franchise in the eSports space, spur fan engagement and reimagine corporate sponsorship to create a vibrant, global e-arena where the greatest players in the world aspire to compete.”'

While the Sixers are the first professional North American sports organization to own an esports team, the flirtation with esports is not new for sports investors. Several European football clubs including FC Schalke have purchased esports teams, and two part-owners of the Sacramento Kings, as well as Shaquille O'Neal and Alex Rodriguez, have invested in esports organization NRG eSports.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Apex retained their NA LCS spot through the 2016 summer promotion tournament. While they did play in that tournament, it was to obtain their summer spot after the 2016 spring split. In fact, since Apex placed 7th in the summer split, they remain in the LCS without playing any relegation matches. theScore esports regrets the error.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

Big Bluff Charity Poker tournament will see NA LCS owners sling cards for charitable causes

teamliquidpro.com 6d ago

The owners of the ten NA LCS teams have banded together to hold a charity poker tournament that will see them compete for $11,000 for their charity of choice. The event, produced by Next Generation Esports, is set to begin Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. EST. Donations from stream viewers will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Click here for the full article via teamliquidpro.com

theScore esports Podcast: Faker's Twitch debut, gambling in esports and LoL's new Worlds format

theScore esports Staff

Cop returns as Team Dignitas head coach

team-dignitas.net 5d ago

Team Dignitas announces the appointment of David "Cop" Roberson as the Head Coach for its North American League of Legends team, with the goal of increasing communication and cohesiveness; Cop will replace the team's former coaches.

Click here for the full article via team-dignitas.net

Former Tainted Minds coach alleges team was mistreated by org, players reportedly in contract dispute

by 16h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Tainted Minds

Former Tainted Minds coach Nick "Inero" Smith has alleged that the organization severely mistreated some of its League of Legends players, telling PVP Live's James "Obscurica" Chen that it attempted to bar them from leaving the org.

According to Inero, the team house was often without power over a period of two months. Other complaints included bad computers that crashed too often to play on, a lack of air conditioning and mold growth in the house.

Inero told PVP Live that the team missed two weeks of scrims because of the computer issues. The team then allegedly contacted a lawyer to legally terminate their contacts, before reportedly being told by Tainted Minds on Feb. 17 that they were still under contract to the org.

A representative for Jessep Entertainment and Sports Lawyers confirmed for theScore esports that the firm is representing a group of players in a contract dispute against Tainted Minds, but was unable to provide further clarification on the specific players involved and the nature of the dispute.

Inero told PVP Live the players' lawyer has told them that their contracts are legally terminated, and that they are "are not bound to represent Tainted Minds any further." However, all players who have played for Tainted Minds this split are still listed as being signed to Tainted Minds on Riot's Global Contract Database.

While PVP Live's report does not specify which players are in the dispute with Tainted Minds, Ryan "ShorterACE" Nget, Aaron "ChuChuZ" Bland, Tristan "Cake" Côté-Lalumière and Andrew "Rosey" Rose did not play in any of Tainted Minds 2017 OPL Split 1 Week 5 games.

Inero told PVP Live that on Feb. 18, Tainted Minds had 13 players signed to the org on the database, despite Riot's official rules stating that teams can only have 10 players signed to the roster.

Inero also claims that after the players' lawyer contacted Riot Oceania's head of esports with regards to Tainted Minds' alleged breaches of contract, Riot updated the Global Contract Database to put Tainted Minds in the right.

The database currently only lists 10 players on Tainted Minds, and states it was last updated on Feb 19th. Inero told PVP Live that this is a sign that Riot is covering up for Tainted Minds, as he claims to have a screenshot of the database from Feb. 20 that says it was last updated on Feb. 16.

Tainted Minds has yet to make a public statement on the matter.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Mid Season Tanks Update - Maokai

boards.na.leagueoflegends.com 20h ago

After Sejuani's changes were discussed in a previous post, Maokai has been announced as the next tank rework slated for the Rift. Game Designer Beluga Whale took to the forums to discuss the incoming changes:

"Why hello there. It's time to turn over a new leaf for Maokai, the next champion in our Tank Update! We choose Maokai for a slot in this update because we felt that there was a great opportunity to push this champion as a whole into a really good state. With fairly modern visuals and an updated lore courtesy of the Harrowing, there were only a few major flaws remaining."

Click here for the full article via boards.na.leagueoflegends.com

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