Miami Heat buy stake in Misfits

Thumbnail image courtesy of Misfits / Miami Heat

The National Basketball Association's Miami Heat have purchased a stake in esports organization Misfits, the organization announced Tuesday.

The release calls the arrangement a "strategic partnership," saying that it "is unique as it calls for the HEAT to assist in all duties including marketing, branding, promotion, retail, digital and sponsorship activation on behalf of the franchise, and to cross-promote the HEAT and Misfits."

Misfits owner Ben Spoont confirmed to theScore esports that the purchased stake does not represent a controlling interest in Misfits, though other terms of the deal are confidential.

“The Miami HEAT pride ourselves on being innovative in all aspects of sports and business,” HEAT Chief Executive Officer Nick Arison said in a press release. “For us, it made perfect sense to partner with Misfits, a young and ambitious franchise in a sport that is blazing a trail in terms of 21st century recreational competition amongst Millennials.”

Misfits was formed in 2016 by Ben Spoont, and began as a League of Legends team in the European Challenger series that went on to qualify for the EU LCS. The organization has since signed a Heroes of the Storm team, an Overwatch team, several Hearthstone players and one Super Smash Bros. player.

The Miami Heat was formed in 1988 as an expansion team, and have since won three league championships. In January 2016, Forbes valued the organization at $1.3 billion, the tenth-highest NBA franchise on their ranking.

Misfits have expanded rapidly over the last year, beginning with their LoL team, then moving into Overwatch, where their roster recently took first at DreamHack Winter and the Overwatch Open. The organization has only moved into Hearthstone and Super Smash Bros. Melee recently, but has signed strong free agents in both scenes.

“One of the things that really intrigued us about the Misfits is that there are a lot of similarities between the Misfits and the Heat,” Miami Heat executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Michael McCullough said in a video attached to the press release.

“The Misfits just took first place in the Overwatch [Open], they compete at the highest level in League of Legends, and they also compete in Super Smash Bros. They're looking to be known as one of the best teams, one of the best organizations in all of esports, and that's we look to be in the NBA. So we thought bringing these two organizations together, where both of us want to win and compete at the highest level, was really going to create a great marriage.”

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

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

Misfits owner and Miami Heat exec open up about their partnership and what both teams bring to the table

by 6d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Misfits / Miami Heat

With professional sports teams in Europe and North America beginning to invest into esports, Misfits owner Ben Spoont and Miami Heat executive vice president and chief marketing officer Michael McCullough emphasized that they want to set a new standard for partnerships in an interview with Yahoo Esports' Travis Gafford.

The Miami Heat bought a stake in Misfits on Jan. 10, though Spoont confirmed to theScore esports that the stake is not a controlling interest in the organization. Spoont emphasized that while the Heat will provide a number of benefits to the Misfits organization through integration, Misfits can also extend the reach of the Heat into other parts of the world.

"As we looked at a lot of the market research and some of the data about the crossover audience, there exists an opportunity for us to also help extend the Heat brand in areas around the world perhaps where it's not as strong via esports," Spoont said. "Where there are stronger audiences that are more engaged in esports than in stick'n'ball sports. So it allows us to further enhance the Heat brand that way as well."

McCullogh agreed, stating that partnering with Misfits provides the Heat with a learning opportunity that will allow them to connect both the Heat and Misfits with new audiences that were difficult to reach before.

"We're really excited about the audience makeup of esports," McCullough said. "And we think that there's a great opportunity for us to not only engage with more of a millennial audience but to learn. There's a good learning opportunity for us here with a new sport, that's going to allow us to flex our muscles a little bit and learn more about this audience that we need to learn more about, both from the Heat's standpoint and the Misfits' standpoint."

The Miami Heat have not been the only NBA team to wade into esports. The Philadelphia 76ers ownership group acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming in September, while Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens purchased LCS team Cloud9 Challenger in December, renaming it to FlyQuest in January.

But McCullough says that the Heat aim to set the bar high for what an NBA team and esports team can do together, encouraging other teams to step up their game if they hope to compete.

"We definitely want to set the bar very, very high on how this sort of relationship can develop, and what a NBA team can do with and for an esports team, and vice-versa," McCullogh said. "What they can bring and what we can learn from them. We're going to be aggressive in what we do in promoting the Misfits and getting engaged with them. And hopefully other teams that get involved will see that, will understand that we set the bar high and know that if they want to get into this game, they've got to come where we are."

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

Misfits owner Ben Spoont: 'the Miami Heat are going to be the key drivers in many key aspects of our business'

Thumbnail image courtesy of Misfits / Miami Heat

Misfits owner Ben Spoont says that one of the primary reasons why his organization partnered with the National Basketball Association's Miami Heat was to take advantage of their "knowledge and expertise" in business growth, he said in an interview on SiriusXM ESPORTS with Kevin Knocke.

RELATED: Miami Heat buy stake in Misfits

Though Misfits are a young esports organization, forming in mid 2016, they already field a League of Legends team that's been promoted into the EU LCS, an Overwatch team that won ELEAGUE's Overwatch Open and have promising forays into Super Smash Bros. Melee and Heroes of the Storm. According to Spoont, growing an esports org needs more than just victories.

"And one of the other elements to having a successful esports org are very complicated and very nuanced aspects in the business, like merchandise, marketing, digital, sponsorship, ad sales, activation." he said. "These are all pieces of the business that are going to be fundamental to our growth, and so as we look build out our infrastructure, partnering with someone like the Miami Heat, who has immense knowledge and expertise in each of those areas, it really was a fantastic partnership.

"And to the extent that they're going to be involved and integrated, it's going to be very extensively. We've had meetings where it's been 10 or 15 people from the Miami HEAT, and Michael [McCullough] can expand on the integration piece here, but the Miami HEAT are going to be the key drivers in many key aspects of our business."

RELATED: 76ers' CEO says their sales group has more staff than Dignitas, Apex combined

The Miami Heat purchased a stake in Misfits on Jan. 10, in what is called a "strategic partnership." Spoont confirmed to theScore esports that the stake does not represent a controlling interest in Misfits.

The partnership is not just a big opportunity for Misfits, but for the Heat as well. According to the Miami Heat's executive vice president and CMO Michael McCullough, Misfits represents an opportunity to reach the growing, millennial esports community.

"We recognize that what esports brings to NBA teams is the opportunity to get involved at the ground floor of something that's really emerging with an audience that's primarily younger, millennial folks who are just coming into either the job market or into the opportunity where they can become participating fans of the stick'n'ball sports, as Ben likes to call us," McCullough said.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah.You can follow him on Twitter.

Lionsgate invests in Immortals

Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games/lolesports / NA LCS Summer Finals / Riot Games

Lionsgate has invested an undisclosed sum of money in Immortals, the organizations announced via Venturebeat on Tuesday.

“We’re delighted to be an early mover in a market that has the potential to transform the face of sports entertainment,” Peter Levin, Lionsgate president of Interactive Ventures & Games said in a statement to Venture Beat.

“Our involvement in eSports creates tremendous opportunities to develop new content and utilize our suite of distribution platforms for a coveted consumer demographic with compelling engagement metrics. Collaborating with an elite group of partners, the combination of the Lionsgate and Immortals brands will be formidable.”

Lionsgate is another big name on Immortals' list of high-profile investors, which includes Memphis Grizzlies owner Steve Kaplan, Machine Shop Ventures, an investment group owned by the band Linkin Park and Levin himself.

“Lionsgate is the perfect entrepreneurial partner for our Immortals family,” Immortals CEO Noah Whinston said in a statement to Venture Beat. “Immortals and Lionsgate are both focused on developing new entertainment formats, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them at the cutting edge of eSports media.”

Lionsgate is primarily known for its film studio, Lionsgate Films, which distributes big-budget movies including The Hunger Games series, the Saw Series and La La Land.

Also included in this latest round of investment is American financier Michael Milken, who is best known for helping to develop the high-yield "junk" bond market in the 1980s, which eventually led a grand jury to indict him on 98 charges of racketeering and fraud. Milken served eight years in jail and paid $600 million in fines. Since his release, Milken now primarily invests in medical research.

Immortals formed in late 2015 as a League of Legends team, and have since expanded into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros. and Overwatch.

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

DoA and MonteCristo discuss why they decided to stop casting LCK and their transition to Overwatch

Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles and Erik "DoA" Lonnquist discussed why they decided to stop casting League Champions Korea after 10 seasons and why they're excited to cast Overwatch in a video posted on DoA's YouTube channel.

On Jan. 10, both MonteCristo and DoA confirmed a report from FOMOS' Kim "Kenzi" Yong-Woo that they would not be casting LCK's upcoming season, promising to release a detailed statement later. In the video, DoA said that the decision to stop casting LCK was not made lightly, as the two had discussed switching to Overwatch for some time.

"This is something that's not sudden," DoA said. "It's something that we've been talking about for a long time. I think when Overwatch was announced, right from the beginning with the intro video and all that, we knew or at least felt in a way that it would be a big esport and it's something that we've wanted to cast. We've been kind of talking about this for a few years now actually."

The duo have previously casted the first season of OGN's Overwatch APEX Series and appeared at BlizzCon to cast the Overwatch World Cup. Based on their experience so far, MonteCristo said that Blizzard has made a "much more concerted effort" to keep them up to date and in the know as opposed to Riot."

"Over the years, it has been difficult for us to predict or have a lot of trust in regards to what Riot is going to do, especially in regards to us as non-Riot casters," MonteCristo said. "There has been very little stability for freelancers in the scene. Blizzard has been making, for us at least, a much more concerted effort to include us in a lot of the conversations that are going on. And the treatment of us has been, I feel, more honest and better."

Despite their experience with Riot, both DoA and MonteCristo stressed that they loved working with Riot's production team, and wished them the best going forward.

"One thing we want to stress too is that we are not talking about the Riot production team, the other casters and all that," DoA said. "We've absolutely loved working with the production people at Riot, the entire staff over there and all of the other casters that we've done, you know, IEMs with, MSI, Worlds and all that. That's a sad part for us, not working with those guys for a while."

Though DoA and MonteCristo are excited to focus on casting Overwatch, DoA said that he will miss casting LCK for the upcoming season for one reason.

"I do regret not being able to cast a team named BBQ Olivers," DoA confessed.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

DoA and MonteCristo decide to stop casting LCK

Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

After 10 seasons, Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles and Erik "DoA" Lonnquist will not return to the desk to cast League Champions Korea.

The news broke initially in a report from FOMOS' Kim "Kenzi" Yong-Woo which MonteCristo and DoA both later confirmed in a quote tweet, noting they would release more on their decision shortly.

In a follow-up tweet, Monte confirmed that the two casters will continue to cast Overwatch events for OnGameNet. The duo have been casting OGN's Overwatch APEX series and appeared at BlizzCon to cast the Overwatch World Cup, where Team South Korea defeated all challengers in the playoff bracket without dropping a map.

RELATED: DoA says he's not done with LoL just yet, but 'it really does feel like it's time for something new'

With both of them refocusing around Overwatch, the news that they would not cast LCK is perhaps not unexpected, but it still marks an end to a 10-season-long tenure that saw both Monte and DoA become the voices of English-language LCK broadcasts.

The LCK broadcasts for the spring split will be split between OGN and SpoTV. Caster Chris "PapaSmithy" Smith confirmed on Twitter that, for the OGN days, the broadcasts will be commentated by himself, Seth "Achilios" King and an as-yet unnamed new hire.

RELATED: Monte on OW’s philosophy compared to LoL: '3 years ago Faker was able just to go crazy in League of Legends in a way that just isn’t possible now'

The APEX series is an Overwatch tournament that sees some of the strongest Western teams travel to Korea, where they compete in a months-long group stage and playoff bracket. The inaugural season saw Team EnVyUs redeem themselves by taking first place, defeating both European and Korean challengers in the playoff bracket.

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

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