The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has made an investment in esports, acquiring a controlling interest in the organization Counter Logic Gaming (CLG).
With this partnership, MSG significantly expands its presence in the fast-growing world of esports with one of the most successful organizations in the industry, and CLG gains access to MSG’s unmatched expertise in sports business, including marketing partnerships, media rights, event operations, ticketing, merchandise and fan engagement.
CLG was founded in 2010 by owner George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis, a former star “League of Legends” competitor who remains one of the sport’s most renowned global figures. Georgallidis and CLG will continue to run the day-to-day operations of CLG’s esports teams across several of the most well-known games: “League of Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” “Overwatch,” “Super Smash Bros.,” and “H1Z1.” CLG has one of the original and preeminent teams in “League of Legends,” making the playoffs in every North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring and Summersplit since the league’s creation, winning the North American Championship title in Summer 2015 and Spring 2016, and four times representing North America in the League of Legends World Championships in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016.
“In 2015, Madison Square Garden hosted the sold-out North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Finals – a first for The World’s Most Famous Arena, and a sign that esports was ready to command sports’ biggest stage,” said David O’Connor, president and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company. “Since then, as we have been actively exploring opportunities to enhance MSG’s portfolio of live experiences, we have been keenly interested in esports as a natural extension of our core business. The sport now stands on the verge of enormous change, which we believe has the potential to generate significant growth. We are thrilled to be taking this next step with CLG – who won their first North American League Championship Series on that historic night at The Garden in 2015 – and we look forward to collaborating with these influential trailblazers to build their brand in New York.”
“When CLG won at Madison Square Garden it was a defining moment not only for our team, but also our sport,” said Georgallidis. “It’s still only just the beginning for esports. We can’t wait to bring our teams and players to more fans on the world’s greatest stage. We believe MSG, with its exceptional infrastructure, world-class resources and loyal fan bases, will bring us to the next level of growth and exposure, and ensure we continue to compete at the highest levels.”
“As esports moves toward franchise league models similar to the NBA and NHL, we intend to leverage our knowledge and insight into the business of professional sports to play an active role in the development of this exciting industry,” said Jordan Solomon, executive vice president of MSG Sports. “We have incredible respect for George and the championship culture he has built, and look forward to utilizing our expertise and media rights to make CLG the preeminent New York esports franchise poised to thrive not only on the business side, but also in competitive play.”
For MSG, CLG brings top-tier esports teams, millions of dedicated fans across multiple social media and online platforms and significant growth potential. By 2020, the global esports market is projected to be worth $1.5 billion, with a global viewership of 590 million viewers, representing a CAGR of 36% and 20%, respectively, from 2015 (Newzoo). By acquiring CLG, MSG will join other esports teams, video game publishers, and leagues to help influence and shape the future of professional esports.
MSG brings decades of experience in sports team business operations, including proven success in completing valuable marketing partnership and media rights deals, and in effectively creating and operating ticketed events. Additionally, MSG has professional sports teams with a rabid global fan base that will be used to promote esports and to grow CLG’s following.
MSG’s world-renowned properties include a collection of iconic venues: Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre, the Forum in Inglewood, California, The Chicago Theatre, and the Wang Theatre in Boston. Over the past several years MSG’s venues have successfully hosted major esports events including the: 2014 and 2015 ESL One New York (Dota 2 Tournament) at The Theater at Madison Square Garden; 2015 summer League of Legends North American League Championship Series Finals at Madison Square Garden; Call of Duty XP 2016 at the Forum; 2016 League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals at The Chicago Theatre; 2016 League of Legends World Championship Semifinals at Madison Square Garden; and 2016 The Boston Major (Dota 2 Major Championship) at the Wang Theatre. Additionally, in 2017, MSG announced that the New York Knicks will participate in the inaugural NBA 2K Esports League, set to debut in 2018.
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