League of Legends Team-8 Acquired and Rebranded "Immortals," Expansion into Dota 2, Counter-Strike Planned

Multiple investors purchase North American team, AMD signs up for partnership.

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Multiple technology, gaming, and media investors have banded together to acquire Team-8, a well-known competitive League of Legends team, as part of a venture to launch a new esports franchise.

Team-8, which is considered one of the strongest League of Legend teams in North America, will be rebranded "Immortals" and, according to chief executive Noah Whinston, is the first of multiple professional gaming outfits that will bear the name.

"Immortals is starting with a League of Legends team, but expect to see us expanding rapidly into other top esports like Counter-Strike and Dota 2," he said.

"We recognise that the best way to grow the Immortals franchise is to work in conjunction with other team owners across every title to help the entire esports ecosystem expand in a healthy way."

The consortium of investors includes Peter Levin, president of Lionsgate Interactive Ventures; Steve Kaplan, co-owner of the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team; Allen Debevoise, chairman of Machinima; and Machine Shop Ventures, an arm of nu-metal band Linkin Park, among others.

Immortals launches with hardware giant AMD as a marketing and technology partner.

"Esports and its legions of fans are a key audience for AMD, which makes our partnership with Immortals both important and exciting," said Roy Taylor, corporate vice president for AMD.

"As a leading designer of graphics processing units and essential technologies for esports gamers of all levels, we are looking forward to future endeavours with the Immortals franchise."

On October 1, the League of Legends World Championship attracted close to one million concurrent viewers on Twitch. While other streaming platforms including YouTube, Douyu, and Longzhu are believed to have reached eight million viewers.

The increasing interest in watching competitive esports such as League of Legends as a form of entertainment has resulted in significant investments in teams, tournament prize pots, and network coverage.

ESPN has been pushing into the world of esports, sending reporters to the League of Legends North American Finals in August 2016 and airing a breakdown on its SportsCenter broadcast. It has also previously broadcast matches from Dota 2 tournament, The International and aired two hours of Heroes of the Storm on ESPN 2.

In September, 2015, ESPN posted job ads for a gaming editor, esports editor, and an engineer to work in the field of virtual/augmented reality, indicating an intent to pursue this area further.

Former ESPN host Colin Cowherd has been very vocal in his opposition of esports broadasting. In October, 2015, he debated watching eSports with Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, who defended competitive gaming.

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