Earlier this year, the North American League of Legends Championship entered franchising. Franchising solidified the position of the 10 teams in the NALCS, thus abandoning the relegation system. This move allowed investors to have a safer bet on investing into teams. These teams were mostly not previous esports organizations, but NBA funded teams that wanted to make their mark in the most prestigious esports league. The Golden State Warriors’ Golden Guardians, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 100 Thieves, the Milwaukee Bucks’ FlyQuest, and the Houston Rockets’ Clutch Gaming entered the scene. These organizations invested at least 16 million dollars to create their organizations.
One would think that these owners were investing for money, but the success was explosive out of the gate. 100 Thieves and Clutch gaming were stacked with players from organizations that could not make it into the ten franchised teams. The regular season was filled with ups and downs for all teams, but the Thieves and Clutch persevered through to clinch playoffs at 1st and 6th place respectively. Clutch Gaming put a halt to Team Solomid’s dynasty of top two finishes with star performances from their support Hakuho and mid laner Febiven winning the set 3-1. Determined to meet their fellow NBA representatives at the top, the team pushed forward. Unfortunately, Team Liquid rolled over Clutch and Echo Fox to meet the Thieves at the top. Team Liquid would sweep the grand finals from 100 Thieves and move on to the Mid Season Invitational tournament in Berlin.
Regardless of the failure to win the NALCS, the NBA representatives showed that they were more than investments, but instead a threat to the title. Many teams witness this success and began to see that esports was more than a niche market and started to create their own teams. This brought rise to the new NBA 2K league. Players from across the states found that their talents for video game basketball wasn’t just a hobby, but a career path to pursue. The 2K league now has players making roughly 70,000 dollars a year with a grand prize pool of one million dollars. Esports has already made waves across the world, and now the US is riding the wave to the future of entertainment.