MSG Acquires Counter Logic Gaming

MSG sees eSports as big business with major investment

  • by Diamond Leung
  • Published: August 9, 2017

World-famous Madison Square Garden, New York City.

(Editor's note: This story first appeared in SportTechie.com)

The Madison Square Garden Company has announced the acquisition of a controlling stake in Counter Logic Gaming, marking a major expansion in the eSports space for a company that can provide venues and sports business services.

“As eSports moves toward franchise league models similar to the National Basketball Assocition and National Hockey League, 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,” Jordan Solomon, EVP of MSG Sports, said in a statement Monday. “We have incredible respect for (Counter Logic Gaming founder George ‘HotshotGG’ Georgallidis) and the championship culture he has built, and look forward to utilizing our expertise in marketing partnerships, live events, 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.”

MSG’s venues have hosted 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 in Inglewood, Calif., 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.

“If any of us have ever been to one of these competitions and as a sponsorship leader you do not understand why this is actually going to be around longterm, you have no idea what you’re doing,” Ron Skotarczak, EVP of Marketing Partnerships for The Madison Square Garden Company, said last week at the National Sports Forum Summer Summit.

“The passion of these fans — I think boxing is the only thing I’ve seen close to it when I’m at an actual event. It is insane. I actually took a video on my phone. I didn’t tell the kid, but just videoed him right next to me once the game started, and it was zombie-like. Once these competitions began, it’s a very attractive, younger, right now male audience that is unbelievably passionate about this…I will say (in five years) it will be around. It will be a much bigger business.”

Georgallidis and CLG will continue to run the day-to-day operations of CLG’s eSports teams across games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros. and H1Z1. The organization could benefit from MSG’s experience with marketing partnerships, media rights, event operations, ticketing, merchandise and fan engagement.

For MSG, CLG brings its fans along with growth potential as the company dives further into eSports. The New York Knicks will participate in the inaugural NBA 2K Esports League set to begin in 2018.

“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,” David O’Connor, President and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company, said in a statement.

“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," he said. "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 of Legends 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.”

  • by Diamond Leung
  • Published: August 9, 2017