Counter-Strike player Sean 'sgares' Gares, new member of Misfits, back when he was with Rick Fox's Echo Foxes. The Counter-Strike players for the esports organisation Team SoloMid have all left following a dispute with owners over which leagues they could play in. Instead, the squad have all joined with Misfits, an organisation that just this week announced its new partnership with the Miami Heat.
News came by way of two announcements, first from TSM, acknowledging the departure, and later in the afternoon from Misfits, revealing the roster for its new Counter-Strike team. Sean 'sgares' Gares, Russel 'Twistzz' David Van Dulken, Shahzeb 'ShahZaM' Khan, Skyler 'Relyks' Weaver, and Hunter 'SicK' Mims, a week after the team earned a spot in the North America EPL, will all be outfitted in uniforms to match the Heat's colours before long.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 14, 2017
The rift between the players and their former team began late last year when the owners tried to restrict them from playing in certain leagues. TSM were partners in a newly formed league called the PEA, one that would be owned and operated by the teams themselves rather than a third-party. The teams involved were in talks to have their players compete exclusively in the PEA, rather than other, more established leagues like the ESL. A public letter from the players affected, not only at TSM, but from other teams as well, called out owners for not including them in the decision making process.
In response, TSM owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh fired one of the players, sgares, for his role in organising the team's dissent. The situation only deteriorated from there, eventually leading the Counter-Strike organisations involved to abandon the PEA entirely. But for TSM and its players at least, the damage was already done. In the statement announcing the players' departure, TSM said,
"This decision was made after the relationships between the organisation and the remaining players continued to deteriorate over the past few weeks, partly in due to the remaining squad's explicit desire to continue playing together with sgares."
Sgares had only joined TSM in late December of last year, arriving from Echo Fox along with ShahZaM. The vision for a new TSM going into the new year, however, was short lived.
— Shahzeb Khan (@ShahZaMk) December 15, 2016
Now, both players, along with Twistzz, Relyks and SicK, will be playing on for Misfits as part of the organisation's newly formed Counter-Strike team. The organisation was previously known mostly for its League of Legends team, and more recently its forays into shooters and fighting games, but as one of esports biggest games, entering the world of Counter-Strike presents a number of new opportunities for investment.
More importantly, Misfits will benefit from the licence to participate in the game's high profile ESL league that comes with the players. As the ESL announced earlier today,
"TL;DR: TSM will not participate in the upcoming fifth season of Pro League and has left the League, the Licence to participate in the League has been transferred via the majority of the players to their new organisation Misfits."
— Misfits (@MisfitsGG) January 14, 2017
It's unclear if the Heat new of the development prior to announcing its new stake in the organisation, but either way, the NBA organisation's new investment in esports means Misfits will have more resources at its disposal to help try and ensure its teams can grow where others have struggled. It's also somewhat fitting since the Counter-Strike series already had a mission in one of its games named after the basketball team.
While the Heat are only the second NBA franchise to get directly involved in the business of competitive gaming (the 76ers partnered with an organisation by the name of Team Dignitas last year), there's no shortage of influence from the basketball world more generally, with former players like Shaquille O'Neal and Rick Fox making big bets on the burgeoning industry.