Shaq, A-Rod among NRG eSports’ latest investors

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NRG eSports is getting some attention from big names in mainstream sports.

Former NBA star and part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Shaquille O'Neal, New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez and Chicago White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins have all invested in NRG, the organization announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, O'Neal made sure his esports entrance was a little more animated.


"I feel it legitimizes the space a little bit, it helps legitimize the idea that these guys really are athletes when other athletes recognize them," NRG co-owner Andy Miller told theScore esports. "There's lots of things that we as weekend warrior athletes will never go through, and they realize that these people are athletes.

"They're putting everything they have, their whole world into becoming the best at what they do."

Miller says that his existing relationship with O'Neal as co-owners of the Sacramento Kings helped them get him involved.

"He was really interested in the space, he was involved in the Turner, TBS esports pavilion, this was something he was participating in," Miller said. "He's a co-owner with me of the Kings as well as my co-owner Mark Mastrov, and he and Mark have a great relationship so he said, 'Hey I want to do this, let's figure it out,' and it was a no-brainer."

O'Neal is also not the only ex-LA Lakers player to enter the world of esports. His former teammate, Rick Fox, founded Echo Fox last year, and currently owns a League of Legends team and a CS:GO team.

Meanwhile, Miller says Rollins approached them after getting interested in the esports scene.

"He'd played a little League of Legends, thought it was amazing, read some articles said this is something he thought paralleled a lot of what he saw in the sports world and he wanted to become an investor," he said. "He was amazing to talk to, really knowledgeable, and well-thought out."

Finally, Mastrov also had an existing relationship with Rodriguez, who they approached because of his personal brand.

"We thought he would just be such a great fit because of his experiences, his longevity and being a player on a big stage at such an early age, very similar to our guys," Miller said.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. He dropped dunk stats in favor of wordplay. You can follow him on Twitter.

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MarkZ on why he quit coaching: 'A lot of players in the scene have very bad attitudes'

William "scarra" Li 3d ago

Mark "MarkZ" Zimmerman has been busy since his departure from coaching Team Liquid, creating his own show, "The Blame Game," and often appearing as one of the main guest analysts for the weekly NA LCS broadcasts.

After Team SoloMid's 3-0 sweep of Counter Logic Gaming in Sunday's semifinal, William "scarra" Li chatted with MarkZ about why he's happier than ever since leaving coaching behind and get his prediction for the upcoming third-place and grand final matches.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.

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Re-Ward Here: A Guide to Toronto for the NA LCS Finals

by 3d ago

For those who don’t know, theScore esports is based in Toronto, Canada. So with the 2016 NA LCS Summer Split finals taking place in our city, who else would be better to give you some tips to get around?

We present to you our guide to help you make the most of your trip to Toronto.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.

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Tryndamere responds to community: Riot is working to improve revenue sharing, will release patches earlier

by 3d ago

Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill has followed up on his initial response to Team SoloMid owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh's comments on the sustainability of League of Legends esports with a new TwitLonger that addresses some of the concerns expressed by members of the community.

"This may surprise some, but I actually agree with a lot of the points Andy makes about sustainability in the LoL ecosystem," Tryndamere said in his post Wednesday. "League esports (in its current form) doesn't provide the long term security and sustainability that we ultimately aspire to for teams and pros."

Throughout the debate that began on Monday with Reginald's interview and Tryndamere's Reddit response, the TSM owner has argued that Riot has demanded more of players and teams without increasing stipends or other league-controlled revenue streams, or giving them access to outside sponsorship opportunities.

"Over time, LCS has become more demanding and restrictive and the dynamics of a mutually beneficial relationship have become more one-sided," he wrote on Tuesday.

In his response Wednesday, Tryndamere acknowledged that team costs are rising while revenue stays mostly stagnant, saying that it is the "short-term reality of growing a young esport."

"Building a self-sustaining global sport requires more revenue generation opportunities for all parts of the ecosystem, and we know there’s more we can do to further unlock the value of the leagues for owners and pros," the Riot executive wrote.

He said that in 2017, Riot plans on releasing additional team-branded in-game items that will provide teams with additional revenue, and they are also looking to sell more physical merchandise through their online store, both concessions that Reginald and other team owners have requested.

"These are just a couple of examples and we’re exploring a lot more major steps, like league sponsorships, franchising, media rights, etc.," Tryndamere wrote.

Sharing sponsorship revenue with teams and broadening opportunities for teams to feature their own sponsors are both issues at the heart of the debate. Though Riot's events and online streams have not generally been sponsored, League of Legends leagues and tournaments have attracted major outside sponsors in the past. Coca Cola currently sponsors the LCK (which is run by OGN and sanctioned by Riot), and also sponsored the 2014 World Championships and the 2015 North American Challenger Series. The LCS itself has never been sponsored.

Tryndamere did not go into detail about what sponsorship revenue-sharing might look like, but rather stressed the complexity of the problem from Riot's perspective.

"As we build additional revenue streams for multi-esport organizations, what mechanisms should we put in place to help ensure that the right amount of revenue is shared with their League pro players?" he wrote. "Who decides what is the right amount? Is it even fair for Riot to influence these third-party teams in this way? There is no road map for this, and we need to continue to learn together with our partners the way we have since we started on this esports journey back in season one at Dreamhack."

The post does not discuss increasing player stipends, which have remained at $12,500 per player per split since 2013, or growing the LCS' prize pools, which have been stable at $100,000 per split since the LCS was founded. (However, Tryndamere said in a previous Reddit comment that Riot was "open to revisiting the Worlds' prize pool," which has also remained relatively stable at close to $2 million since 2012.)

Addressing the criticism that Riot releases game-changing patches too close to major tournaments — in particular this year's lane swap patch, which Reginald and others have complained came out too close to regional playoffs, robbing teams of the time to practice — Tryndamere said it will "do a better job of communicating sooner" and plans to ensure that patches that deeply affect the competitive meta "happen earlier on in the split to give players more time to adjust."

RELATED: Get good: Worlds patching and the myth of meta-resistance​

However, he stuck to his guns on Riot's decision to enforce standard lanes in the latest patch. "Our laneswap changes once again didn’t give teams much time to prepare, but we moved forward believing it will lead to better games and a better viewing experience for fans," he wrote.

After publishing the post today, Tryndamere again responded to community comments on Reddit. He defended his initial, terse response to Reginald's interview on Reddit, saying that it was in line with Riot's communication philosophy of being "unfiltered."

"We prefer to be 'unfiltered' / 'raw' because we are deeply immersed in the game and hate the high level generic corporate speak that says nothing and plays it safe," he wrote. "The downside of these attempts to participate in general community discussions when we occupy this seat and there are tens of millions of players around the world is that it's hard to speak like we know you guys in a casual / comfortable way. ... I infinitely prefer interacting with players than with our PR team (yes we have one) and struggle to engage in the way that I did in 2011 and earlier. Think we need to continue to grow and adapt to our size, scale and the associated expectations."

Since Tryndamere's TwitLonger was posted, Reignald has responded with a short statement of his own, writing that TSM and other NA LCS teams have signed a "detailed proposal" that is being sent to Riot with suggestions for changes to the structure of the LCS.

Several teams have explicitly stated on Twitter they are part of the petition, including Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid and Cloud9, while other teams and personalities from NA and EU have voiced their support using the #LCSForever hashtag. The content of the proposal is not public.

Last updated at 7:04 PM on 8/24/2016.

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

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Riot to hold scouting tournament for North American amateur players

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Riot Games will be hosting a scouting tournament for some of the top-ranked players on the North American ranked ladder this November, the organization announced Friday.

The NA Scouting Grounds will feature teams made up of players at the top of each position on the ranked ladder. The four top players from each role will be invited to the LCS studios to be drafted into teams by LCS players and coaches, then trained as a team before playing against each other in a round-robin tournament.

While Riot did not say whether or not these matches will be streamed, VODs of the games will be released so that international teams can also get a look at these players for scouting purposes.

According to Riot's press release, the players and coaches doing the drafting and training will be from teams "including" Echo Fox and Team Liquid, but did not say what other teams will be participating in the event. The invited players will be selected from the players ranked in the Top 4 of every position on Oct. 31, as long as they have indicated they are interested in participating. Riot stated that a survey regarding player interest will be sent out in early October.

In terms of restrictions, the amateur players must fulfill most of the rules regarding Challenger Series players, including being at least 16 years old by the beginning of the Spring Split, and passing a behavior check. However, the amateur players must also not be contracted to any team and can not have played more than two games of professional LoL.

The round-robin tournament will be played in front of representatives from every NA Challenger Series and LCS team, though that doesn't necessarily mean any of them will be immediately signing the winning team.

"We can’t guarantee organizations extending any offers or additional tryouts to event participants," Riot stated in a press release. "Organizations are all participating in the event because they’re looking for the best talent NA has to offer. As a participant, you will have an opportunity to talk with the different teams and show them what you bring to the table."

The 2016 NA Scouting Grounds will run from Nov. 13-19 in the LCS Studios in Los Angeles, California.

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

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Top 5 Plays from Team SoloMid vs. Cloud9

theScore esports Staff 1d ago

It's the return of the NA LCS' original giants.

Team SoloMid and Cloud9 haven't met each other in the finals since Spring 2015. While TSM have continued to maintain their reputation as one of NA's top teams by consistently making it to eight straight NA finals, C9 have not been as fortunate.

To preview this Sunday's match, here are the Top 5 plays from the games these two teams has had against each other this year.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.

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