The Houston Rockets have been accepted as a 2018 NA LCS permanent partner, according to sources close to the league and team.
The Rockets esports division has been looking for opportunities in the esports industry since December 2016, and have committed to the NA LCS. The Rockets passed on Overwatch League, a source told theScore esports.
The Houston Rockets declined to comment on this story.
The Rockets' esports division has quietly expanded its staff over the past seven months, hiring scouts and analysts during that time. The organization's own sports analytics team has worked with the esports division to create comprehensive scouting reports for League of Legends.
Sources say that the team was notified that their application was accepted on Friday of last week. As a new participant, The Houston Rockets will have to pay $5 million up front and $5 million over a period of time, with an additional $3 million transition fee as a new participant in the NA LCS.
That $3 million will be part of a funding pool that will delve out parachute payments to teams in the 2017 NA LCS and NA CS that were not accepted into the franchised league based on their time in those leagues.
After the Rockets' application was submitted, questions about the organization's ownership arose, which were ultimately resolved with the sale of the team to new owner Tilman Fertitta on Sept. 4 for $2.2 billion. The resolution of the ownership situation was crucial to ensuring that the NA LCS application could properly move forward, a source close to the team said.
The organization intends to focus its attention on the LCS for the immediate future, and does not intend to pursue teams in other titles for the time being, a source said.
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports and the world's worst Dungeon Master. You can find him on Twitter.