If you were under any illusions about how seriously eSports is being taken by the rest of the world, this should help clarify matters.
The Daily Dot reported early this morning that Mark Mastrov and Andy Miller, through an investment group, have bought their way into the top tier of the North American League of Legends scene, after they purchased the position from Team Coast.
Team Coast was forced to sell their position in the LCS as a stipulation of the contracts Riot Games makes all contenders sign, which restricts organisations to having only one team in the top League of Legends tier. The British eSports outfit Team Dignitas were forced to sell their European LCS team earlier this year under similar circumstances, after their North American roster smashed their way through NA's second tier of competition.
That deal was reportedly just under US$1 million, although Dignitas have only roughly hinted at the total amount. It's not known for how much Mastrov and Miller's investment group paid, although the pair certainly have the cash to splash: they're both part owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, and Daily Dot added that Miller sold his company to Apple five years ago for a healthy US$275 million.
The new team's called NRG Esports, and it's got a solid roster already. The former coach of Origen, who took his team to the semi finals of the LCS Worlds this year, will be NRG's strategic coach, while the former Cloud9 coach Charlie Lipsie will fill the team's head coach position. Korean stalwarts Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong and Lee "GBM" Chang-seok have been named as starters, while Kevin "KonKwon" Kwon and Galen "Moon" Holgate will take the jungler and support positions.
eSports is becoming an increasingly enormous proposition. While League doesn't quite boost the pay packets or the prize pools being offered by The International, it's certainly not playing second fiddle in the overall scheme of things. Locally things are taking off as well, with the International Wildcard All-Stars tournament kicking off in Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena from November 26.