Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has expanded its reach in the esports sector after announcing the acquisition of a controlling stake in major team Counter Logic Gaming (CLG).
MSG’s venues have already hosted a number of esports events including the 2014 and 2015 ESL One New York (Dota 2 Tournament) at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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, including ‘League of Legends’, and ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’.
In announcing the deal, MSG cited data from Newzoo which suggests the global esports market is projected to be worth $1.5bn (£1.1bn/€1.3) by 2020, with a global viewership of 590 million viewers.
“In 2015, Madison Square Garden hosted the sold-out North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Finals – a first, and a sign that esports was ready to command sport’s biggest stage,” said David O’Connor, president and chief executive of MSG.
“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.”
MSG said CLG brings top-tier esports teams, millions of dedicated fans across multiple social media and online platforms and significant growth potential. MSG said it is now in a position to 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.
“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.
MSG’s venues include Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre, the Forum in Inglewood, California and The Chicago Theatre.
Georgallidis said: “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.”