Team Liquid Debuts at the North American League Championship Series with Major Victories

Team Liquid has kicked off their debut at the North American League Championship Series (NALCS) with two major victories. Over the weekend, Team Liquid bagged a decisive 2-0 win over Team Solomid, the current reigning champions at the NALCS and the top-ranked team for pre-season games. Team Liquid also won the following round soundly against Optic Gaming, thus paving a clear path to winning the championship.

Team Liquid on the Way to Championship with Gratifying Wins

NALCS is the pro league championship tournament for League of Legends, the most popular esport in the world. The famous online arena battle game was played by over 100 million estimated monthly active users in 2016. Team Liquid and its management, aXiomatic, has focused efforts considerably on improving performance for this particular game. The team underwent a complete roster overhaul prior to the tournament and the players had intensive boot camp training pre-season before entering the NALCS with a splash. Team Liquid’s management remains highly satisfied with the gamers’ incredible start at the NALCS and remains hopeful about the team’s prospects for the rest of the season.  

Team Liquid Adds a New Game and Acquires Pro League Players

Team Liquid continues to forge new pathways in the ever-expanding esports genre. Just recently, the team started on a new game, “Rainbow Six Siege” (R6).  Liquid also added a new roster of players, the MOPA Team, to its portfolio. Hailing from Brazil, MOPA Team is a group of highly experienced pro league R6 players. MOPA’s roster of players include the former regional champions of LATAM—Leo “ziG” Duarte, André “neskwga” Oliveira, Lucas “yuuk” Rodrigues, José “Bullet1” Victor, and Thiago “xS3xycake” Reis. With MOPA, Team Liquid will soon participate in the upcoming Rainbow SixPro League championship games in February.

Team Liquid Partners with Ubisoft for R6 Franchise

With R6 league championships on the horizon, Team Liquid will soon become a franchise partner with Ubisoft, one of the biggest video game developers in the industry. The “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” is the flagship esports title for Ubisoft, which is currently the fourth largest publicly-traded video game company in North America and Europe. Team Liquid is entering a long-term partnership with Ubisoft as the players will soon debut in the R6 league.

The game is a tactical first-person shooter franchise where players engage in a military-style global counterterrorism operation in game. R6 has a massive following that is growing each year. In 2016, the game had 25 million players on all platforms. As the game becomes more popular, the stakes for the championship title becomes steeper. Team Liquid hopes to beat the odds with the expertise of MOPA at the upcoming high-stakes championships.

Team Liquid last year won the International Dota 2 Championships, bringing home a $10.8 million grand prize. The team and its management hope to replicate this success in 2018 and beyond. The team’s winning chances have been strengthened by the players’ early success at NALCS. With MOPA’s seasoned players on the roster now, Team Liquid has become a formidable force to be reckoned with in the esports field.

 

Jason Sugarman’s Thoughts on Colleges Joining E-Sports

E-sports, meet varsity athletics. Florida Southern College in Lakeland has become the latest university to form an e-sports team. ESPN recently reported that the university will field a League of Legends team starting January next year. It’s novel for the university and the state as well. The Southern College’s e-sports team would be the very first in the state and also the very first National Association of Collegiate Esports team for the state.

Florida Southern College was not the only university to announce e-sports teams this month. Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania announced all of three varsity e-sports teams in League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. The teams would soon start competing for the best players on a national level. The Harrisburg U has only 500 students in total. So the announcement of varsity e-sports teams is major news for the campus.

It’s becoming obvious that e-sports are gaining ground when the universities are pitching in. Varsity e-sports are definitely not in the same league as, say varsity football, at least not yet. It’s not in the same league as franchise e-sports teams, like Team Liquid, either. Team Liquid, which counts Jason Sugarman as an investor, has gone on to win international tournaments and grand prizes in the millions. It will be a while until varsity teams can boast the same.

Why are Universities Becoming Interested in E-Sports?

The reasons largely vary according to the university in question. Florida Southern College, for example, sees e-sports as a way to unify students around a common, collegiate goal. Students are already gamers when they become undergraduates, so it’s easy to bring segments of the student body together. The Florida college even includes the e-sports program in the scholarship program, but not under the athletics department. The university’s dean of student development, Bill Langston, has acknowledged e-sports as a “growing trend” that athletics-minded universities can no longer ignore.

Harrisburg University has somewhat different goals in mind. With less than 1,000 people in the student body, the university has no way of becoming a conventional sporting powerhouse. Therefore, the university dreams of becoming an e-sporting powerhouse. Unlike Florida Southern, Harrisburg includes e-sports in the athletics department. The university is serious about becoming a major name in the e-sports scene.

What Would it Mean for E-Sports in the Future?

Regardless of the reasons, universities joining the e-sports world could spell major changes for the sector. It would definitely propel e-sports toward the mainstream. Already, people most interested in e-sports are overwhelmingly young. If they could engage in e-sports in colleges as well, then the sector ends up with great branding potential. Investors like Mr. Sugarman can anticipate higher returns just on the varsity segment. Like with conventional football or soccer, varsity level tournaments for e-sports could become a thing on its own.

E-sports teams with national-level ambition often struggle to recruit promising players. Varsity grade games could solve this problem as well. Overall, college-level e-sports are good for universities, players, students and investors as well. It is very exciting to think about how all this would play out in the immediate future.

Jason Sugarman: Are eSports Tournaments the Super Bowls of the Future?

About a decade ago, if you went to a football game, a baseball game, or even a tennis match, the stadium would most likely be filled to the brim with fans of all ages. These days, go to a game and the fandom filling the bleachers is most likely going to be middle-aged men. Data backs this up. Manchester United, possibly the most recognized MLS brand in the world, has announced that the average age of an MU watcher is now 53. So where are all the younger viewers? Without young audiences, what will happen to major league sports in the future?

Young Sports Lovers are Big Fans of E-Sports

Recently, a journalist aptly noted that the most recent Fnatic convention, a gathering of hardcore e-sports lovers, was packed to the hilt. All around the venue were young faces. Recently, at the Lisbon web summit, when an announcer asked people to raise their hands if they had heard about Manchester United, nearly all hands went up. Then the same person asked people to raise their hands if they had heard about Fnatic? Notably, a similar number of hands went up.

Young audiences are now following e-sports with the same ardent fervor as sports fans following major league teams. Instead of playing a game like football, fans are following top players of games like Overwatch, Counter-Strike, and Dota. Gamers are no longer considered pale-faced nerds stuck in their mothers’ basements. Professional video gamers now even prefer the term “eAthletes.”

Franchise Potential of E-Sports

Sure, e-sports may have fervent followers but could they ever have the same brand recognition as Manchester United, The Patriots, or the upcoming LAFC? If you have ever seen tens of thousands of people crowding Beijing’s National (Bird’s Nest) Stadium to watch e-sports events, you would definitely think so.

E-sports are no longer just a hobby. The sector has already shown great potential not just in attracting devoted fans, but also in making millions in profits. Team Liquid, the e-sports team Jason Sugarman has heavily invested in, earlier this year won the International Dota 2 Championships, bringing home the grand prize of a whopping $10.8 million. Wins like this are not so different from major league wins for both players and investors.

Just like with MLB, NFL, or MLS, major e-sports players have millions of followers. Consider Faker, a South Korean player described as the Michael Jordan of the online game League of Legends. When he lost a major game in a tournament, literally millions of fans joined in sympathy. Pro gamers, just like conventional athletes, make millions through merchandising and appearances, in addition to prize money for tournaments.

Would there be an E-Superbowl in the Future?

E-sports will most likely become more popular in the future, as internet connectivity becomes widespread and speedy. Games are also being designed for mass appeal. So it’s not a matter of if, but rather when, the official e-sporting Super Bowl would arrive. Gamers already call international championships, like the one Team Liquid recently won, the Super Bowl of e-sports.

It would be very interesting indeed to see where e-sporting and sporting, in general, is headed to in the future with the younger generation.

Jason Sugarman Anticipates National Team Issues in E-Sports

Soon after winning the “Super Bowl” of e-sports several weeks ago, Team Liquid, Jason Sugarman’s choice e-sports team, has run into some trouble. The Team quite recently had to replace a player, Peter “Stanislaw” Jarguz, with the newcomer Lucas “steel” Lopes. The replacement was unanticipated but stemmed from an internal dispute of how things should be run. These sorts of disputes are common among gamers but perhaps have not always been as well-known. After being ousted from Team Liquid, Lopes was approached by gaming media for his account, just like in a conventional game.

The ouster of Lopes, though not unusual, does speak to the bigger problem facing the e-sports industry—the formation of national teams. Devout gamers have been quite good at putting together teams that win big and raising awareness on e-sporting. Consider, for example, the massively successful rAge event this year, arranged by Kwese and VS Gaming. While these events are important, it’s no secret that e-sports have struggled to form national teams. For dedicated e-sports investors like Jason Sugarman, this is somewhat a disappointment.

Why National Teams are Important for E-Sports

E-sports are largely limited to local events at the moment. Usually, a group of people who may live close to each other puts together a team to attend events nearby. National teams, on the other hand, have the potential to uplift these local teams into the international arena. It’s not so different playing soccer on your street and playing at an international stadium. Players could go toe to toe with not just the best in the server, but the best in the world. E-sports can finally become a serious gaming event with national teams.

Having national teams could also boost the franchising potential of various e-sports teams. It would not be much different from having a team like LAFC, Manchester United, or the Red Sox. Who knows, maybe in the future e-sports national teams might even play at the Olympics.

Why Gamers have Trouble Putting Together National Teams

The issue is multifold. Various e-sports teams, including Team Liquid, win huge prizes and constantly demonstrate that e-sports is worth the bother. However, the general perception of the sector is still subject to various stereotypes. The average non-gamer does not take e-sports seriously and does not know that virtual games could be as professional as conventional games like soccer or football. As a result, e-sports teams may lack the support they should get from authorities responsible for forming national teams.

Some gamers are also not entirely comfortable with forming national teams. On the virtual plane, just about anyone can get together to play a game. Locations and boundaries usually blur when it comes to video games. As long as there’s an internet connection, players can get together regardless of whether they are located in America or China. With national teams, the industry risks politicization of the fun, similar to how athletics can get politicized by events like the Olympics.

Future Expectations

Regardless of what one person thinks about national teams, playing at the national level can inarguably raise the standing of e-sports. The real question is whether teams would ever get there.

It is not impossible that, as young e-sports lovers get older, the games would eventually become national.

Jason Sugarman Celebrates Team Liquid International DOTA 2 Championship Win

Team Liquid, the e-sports team just won The International DOTA 2 Championships. The team is taking home a whopping $10.8 million grand prize.

The International DOTA 2 Championship is like the Superbowl of e-sports where the best of the best online gamers from around the world compete for the multimillion-dollar grand prize and lasting fame. The players compete in multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) set up by the gaming commission.

This year’s DOTA 2 was held in Seattle and is the seventh annual game in the competition series. The final round was down to three teams: A European team, a Chinese team named Newbee, and Team Liquid consisting of players from around the world. Newbee was beaten by the European team, which was beaten in the final round by Team Liquid by a victorious 3-0.

The second place took $3.9 million home, while the third place won $2.4 million. The total grand prize this year was $24 million, a sizeable increase from the $20.7 million grand prize awarded a year ago. The prize money is taken out of profits made from virtual goods sold in game.

Jason Sugarman was full of congratulations for Team Liquid, which he majority controls with several other business luminaries. The team is co-managed by Steve Arhancet and Victor Goossens of aXiomatic. Before this win, Team Liquid was considered one of the most notable and best eSports teams in the world. This championship win solidifies Team Liquid’s reputation.

The DOTA 2 tournaments are typically huge. This time around, Team Liquid overcame a total of 16 finalist teams in the battle arena. The competitors played at the actual Key Arena in Seattle, where huge crowds cheered on teams like any major sports event.

Team Liquid’s ultimate win was not easy, however. The team nearly fell out of the competition in early rounds but managed to strike it out and fight itself into the lower ranking brackets, qualifying the players for the final round.

Veteran Financier Jason Sugarman Talks Investing in E-Sports

Jason Sugarman is best known for his private equity and debt-based investing. He has also made a fortune in the asset-based lending sector. So it comes as a surprise to some that Mr. Sugarman’s latest endeavor is e-sports investing. Perhaps, not so surprising to his closest friends. Mr. Sugarman is a famous sports lover and has made a number of investments in traditional sports. He is one of the many famous investors in the Los Angeles Football Club, which will debut next year. He owns several other sports teams including the Oklahoma City Dodgers. So how does a football loving financier bet his stakes on online games like Overwatch?

The Next Big Sports Investment

E-sports is already raking in massive profits. For Mr. Sugarman, who regularly deals with major profit-making sports, investing in e-sports is only natural. E-sports refers to games that are played via an electronic system, like a gaming console or a computer. Video gaming is no longer a cornered subculture. The industry earns billions in profits each year, and established titles, like Halo and Starcraft, have huge global followings. There’s a lot of money to be made in e-sports for both developers and sports investors.

It’s estimated that e-sports revenue may pass the $1 billion markers by 2019. In 2015, the industry made about $325 million, over a 40 percent increase over the annual profits of the previous year. It’s hard to believe that the growth of the industry could be stalled, especially when countries like China are adding new games each year.

Mr. Sugarman’s interest in e-sports follows his love of classic games like football and baseball. Sure, there’s a lot that can be made by investing in teams. But there’s also the thrill of the game that surpasses profit motives. So far, Mr. Sugarman is still a “noob” or a newcomer when it comes to e-sports. He is not heavily involved in playing the games, but closely watches rising talent that gets ranked globally.

Team Liquid

Mr. Sugarman’s choice e-sports team is Team Liquid, one of the biggest in the whole gaming world. He has made considerable investments in the team. He is not alone. A number of other celebrities have also invested in Team Liquid, including easily recognizable business celebs like Tony Robbins, the “CEO whisperer,” Paul Schaeffer of Mandalay Entertainment, and Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Groupon. Even the basketball luminary Magic Johnson is an investor in the team. Team Liquid is a star player in immensely popular online games like StarCraft 2, Overwatch, and Halo.

Are Virtual Sports the Future?

While Mr. Sugarman is quite excited about his e-sports investments, his mind is never off his real sports passion, football. He believes that e-sports will play a major role in the future, but do not think that it will be able to surpass classic sports like football.