Over the past year and change, more and more NBA money has been flowing into esports. Former NBA champion Rick Fox launched Echo Fox. The Philadelphia 76ers acquired Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming. Magic Johnson and two NBA owners purchased Team Liquid. Most recently, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens launched FlyQuest.
Tuesday, another partnership was announced, most similar to the move the 76ers made with Dignitas. The Miami Heat announced a “strategic partnership” with European-based esports organization Misfits Tuesday, acquiring a stake in the organization.
“The Miami Heat pride ourselves on being innovative in all aspects of sports and business,” Heat Chief Executive Officer Nick Arison said in the 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.”
The Heat’s press release says the agreement will including a “marketing, branding, merchandising and promotional partnership” between the organizations. ESPN’s Jacob Wolf reports Misfits will rebrand to match the Heat’s colors.
“Misfits is thrilled to be partnering with the Heat organization,” Misfits CEO and Co-Founder Ben Spoont, a Miami native, said in the release. “This partnership will be the catalyst and foundation to our continued expansion of the Misfits organization into a global esports brand and company. The Heat -- innovators and leaders in traditional sports -- will help Misfits to unlock meaningful value across all facets of our business.”
Misfits was first formed in May 2016 as a League of Legends team, replacing Renegades: Banditos after Renegades was banned from competitive play. Misfits won promotion to the EU LCS for the 2017 Spring Split, and also boasts teams in Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and Super Smash Bros.