Immortals Gaming Club Reportedly Selling OWL’s LA Valiant
According to a report from Bloomberg, the Overwatch League’s LA Valiant will soon be up for sale. The Immortals Gaming Group, their current owners, have not yet publicly commented on the potential deal or if they have a buyer in mind to sell the LA Valiant to, but instead seem to be focusing on their properties in Riot-backed games League of Legends and Valorant, as well as operations of Gamers Club and CSGO squad MiBR in Brazil.
This marks a significant departure from Activision Blizzard for Immortals. They just sold the OpTic Gaming brand to Hector Rodriguez, while simultaneously selling the LA Call of Duty League slot to Nadeshot’s 100 Thieves. With no LA Valiant or Immortals Gaming Group involved, the Overwatch League loses one of its staunchest supporters and organizations that have been involved since day one of the League. Given that other teams, like Cloud9 and their deal with Guinevere Capital, have also made indications that they are looking to exit the league, this is starting to look like a trend rather than a one-off.
Original owners in the Overwatch League agreed to pay $20 million in franchising fees, which were deferred this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assumedly, whatever fees incurred might transfer to the new owner, or the deal would include those fees.
IGC Pivots Away From Activision Blizzard Esports
While Immortals Gaming Club has not returned a request sent for comment by us and other outlets about whether or not they are selling the LA Valiant, they did offer this illuminating quote when they sold off the OpTic Gaming brand.
“We’ve enjoyed strong growth in our nonteam asset portfolio and are excited to leverage a strong balance sheet and focus our energy, time, capital, and other resources on these aspects of the business,” Ari Segal, chief executive officer of Immortals Gaming, said in a statement last week. He added that the company will continue to invest in some esports teams.
The sale of the OpTic Gaming brand to Hector Rodriguez, officially announced yesterday, did not note the LA Valiant as a team that the brand would be focusing on moving forward in their press release. Between this and the rumors being circulated, it certainly seems as though IGC is not as invested as they once were in Activision Blizzard’s esports initiatives, but why?
Well, for one – the focus on home markets, while a novel idea, seems to have put an unexpected amount of investment required for the teams to be involved in leagues. For another, Activison Blizzard has been notorious for looking to interfere with team sponsorship deals, with many categories outright not allowed for teams.
With an expense that’s higher than in any other esports title and a lack of revenue that isn’t made up for by meager merchandise share from the Fanatics deal, and it’s not hard to see why teams might be looking for their exit strategy now that Blizzard has turned away from the Blizzard Arena and are expecting teams to shoulder a lot of the cost of operating the league.
The future of the Overwatch League, bright if you listen only to Bobby Kotick, is certainly in doubt as several teams look to pare down their rosters to league minimums and recruit cheaper grassroots talent. Add in that teams are seemingly looking to exit the game, and one really does have to start questioning the League’s long-term viability. It’s enough to make even Overwatch’s staunchest defenders start raising an eyebrow.