Original Story: A new organization named Team Elemental has picked up Cloud9 Tempest's North American Challenger Series spot and is building a new team called Ember.
Founded by Bao Lam and Jonathan Pan, the organization is already qualified for the 2016 NACS and is currently building a team around support Nicolas "Gleeb" Haddad.
Gleeb was Team SoloMid's starting support after Alex "Xpecial" Chu left the team. Gleeb left TSM in October 2014, and most recently played on Winterfox's LCS team, but left after they were relegated.
"We think he's super talented, he obviously has big stage performance experience, and we're gonna put in the right structure and team around him so he'll have a great environment to practice and grow in," Lam, who also serves Ember's general manager, said. "We think a lot of the time the community villanizes these players and casts a negative light around them despite them having talent.
"That's why people are all 'NA has no talent.' That's not true, it's more like NA just throws all the people that are talented into the fire then forgets about them."
A former Riot employee, Lam says Ember is currently eyeing some former C9 Tempest players, though Will "Meteos" Hartman and Yuri "Keith" Jew are still with Cloud9 as far as he knows. He also says that Ember is in talks with Juan "Contractz" Garcia.
Lam did not disclose how much Team Elemental paid for the spot, but says that they are backed by a "pretty significant funder." The organization had originally won a bid on an LCS squad but decided against it after talking with the players.
"When we talked with the team we thought we had a pretty high chance of relegation looking at the talent that was currently available and what they were at in terms of skill," he said. "We thought we could train them for a couple months in the challenger scene and get into the LCS and be in a better place than if we just threw them into the wolves of Reddit.
"I'm pretty good friends with Jack since Hai's my brother, and I've known him for a couple years so we reached out to them and asked if the C9 Tempest slot was open and they were willing to make a deal with us that we were able to buy the spot from C9 tempest."
Team Elemental is looking to pick up players in other eSports, including CS:GO, Hearthstone and fighting games, though they'll be given branding that fits in with their elemental theme, and won't be part of Ember.
As for the co-founder's connection to Riot, Lam said it's helped in that they have seen successful LCS teams and know what works, but they don't have any secrets that help them scout players that the public doesn't know about. They just thought it was time to get in with a team.
"eSports is just growing and growing and as former rioters we've seen the scene from when it used to be in someone's basement, quote unquote, to selling out stadiums in Korea and Europe," he said. "For us it's opportunity meeting time, where we can finally put the money together and raise enough that we can run a League of Legends team properly and put together the right infrastructure."
Clarification: Bao Lam has clarified to theScore eSports that he misspoke when he said Team Elemental won a bid on an LCS team. He has since stated that they did not make a bid.
"To clarify, at that time, when we were forming our roster, we looked at LCS options but we decided NACS would be better," he said. "We were pretty afraid of the risk for relegation and wanted to give our guys as much time as possible to get synergy and develop before we entered the LCS."
Bao also clarified that they are not building a team specifically around Gleeb.
"We are aware of Gleeb's history and think putting Gleeb in a professional environment with the correct coaching staff will allow him to be successful and showcase his talents," he said.
This article has been updated, and theScore eSports stands by the story.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore eSports. All he wants for Christmas is a sponsor for Kazunoko. You can follow him on Twitter.