Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens has purchased Cloud9 Challenger’s spot in the North American League Championship Series, where his new team FlyQuest will compete in the region’s largest competitive league for League of Legends. Edens has purchased the team as well as the contracts of four of its current players for approximately $2.5 million, according to Jacob Wolf of ESPN.
Wolf reports the spot alone sold for $1.8 million, whereas player contract buyouts constitute a total cost of about $700,000. In an announcement released by the team, Edens outlined his excitement for the team and esports as a whole:
“We are very excited to enter such a rapidly growing and immensely popular sport. FlyQuest intends to compete and win at the highest levels of eSports and quickly become an internationally respected organization. Starting with our very talented League of Legends roster, we’re beginning the process of building sustainable success. We look forward to growing our brand globally as we help expand the reach of eSports.”
Cloud9 Challenger earned promotion to the League Championship Series as part of the promotion system, but no organization is allowed to have more than one team in the same League. Cloud9 is allowed to sell the spot, however, and Edens reached a deal for the team’s spot. Wolf reports an investment group from the United Arab Emirates had previously been close to a deal.
Four existing players in the Cloud9 organization will move over to FlyQuest.
Top laner An “BalIs” Van Le, mid laner Hai “Hai” Lam, AD carry Jonny “Altec” Ru, and support Derek “LemonNation” Hart were included in the deal and will stay with the Edens’ new LCS team. All are LCS veterans with multiple years of competitive play under their belts. Also returning from the former challenger team is coach Thomas “Thinkcard” Slotkin. Rounding out the roster is jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate another LCS veteran previously with Team Liquid.
This new deal marks the continuation of a shift toward NBA-related ownership of competitive League of Legends teams. Of the ten teams in the NALCS, a remarkable five now have owners with NBA ties. Former NBA veteran Rick Fox purchased the team now known as Echo Fox in September of last year.
Grizzlies owner Stephen Kaplan purchased a share of Immortals, and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Warriors owner Peter Guber partnered with NBA legend Magic Johnson to buy Team Liquid. The Philadelphia 76ers also joined in, becoming the first traditional North American professional sports franchise to own an esports organization when they bought both Team Apex and Team Dignitas to form a new, merged Dignitas team.
With Edens’ purchase, the new team becomes the fifth NALCS team with NBA ties. The Spring Split begins January 20.