Jason Sugarman on sports branding and reputation management

Jason Sugarman Discusses the World’s Most Valuable Esports Teams

The Top 7 Most Valuable Esports Teams The popularity of esports has exploded over the last five years. At the end of 2018, an estimated 167 million people watched esports. By 2022, the esports audience is projected to swell to 276 million people. An audience this large means high earnings for esports teams. Through a combination of investors, sponsorships, and winnings, some esports teams have become quite valuable, and their value is projected to grow over the next decade. 

1. Team Liquid

According to Jason Sugarman, Team Liquid’s roots run deep in gaming. They started as a community-based gaming website. In 2010, they took their first dip into esports by sponsoring a Dutch StarCraft: Brood War team. The original StarCraft team slowly moved into different games, and Team Liquid signed their first professional player to join the StarCraft team at the end of 2010. 

Since that time, Team Liquid has become one of the most valuable teams in all of esports with a great online reputation and brand. 

Team Liquid has amassed a total of $24,448,847 in prize money over the last nine years. By far, their Dota team is their most successful, having pulled in $17,336,099 in earnings. Dota is not

the only game where Team Liquid is active. In total, Team Liquid has played in 1,430 tournaments and has accumulated substantial winnings in Counter-Strike and StarCraft.

Several well-known players are signed to Team Liquid. Kuro Takhasomi (KuroKy) is a very popular Dota 2 player who has earned $3,449,672 while signed to Team Liquid. Ivan Ivanov (MinD_ContRoL) is one of the most popular Bulgarian esports players and has brought in $3,433,172 while competing in Dota 2 tournaments for Team Liquid. 

2. Cloud9

On December 4, 2012, Cloud9 was formed when CEO Jack Etienne purchased the defunct Quantic Gaming League of Legends roster. The new Cloud9 LoL team saw success in the League of Legends Championship Series, spurring growth of the organization. In 2018, Cloud9 became the first American Counter-Strike team to win a major championship when they defeated FaZe Clan to win the ELEAGUE Boston: Major 2018 final, Jason Sugarman said.

According to Forbes, Cloud9 has a value of $310,000,000. This value comes from the numerous teams competing in different esports as well as numerous sponsorships. While Cloud9 is only ranked 13th when it comes to team winnings, their infrastructure, sponsorships, and fund raising are some of the best in the industry. Recently, they raised $50,000,000 from investors to boost their future growth, placing them on a positive trajectory for the future. 

3. Echo Fox

Echo Fox is one of the world’s most valuable esports teams. Its start came in 2015 when retired NBA player Rick Fox bought the League of Legends team formally enlisted with Gravity Gaming. The team took on the Echo Fox name and was an early pioneer for Echo Fox gaming. In 2018, the League of Legends Championship Series made Echo Fox a permanent partner, a move that allowed Echo Fox to secure a financial investment from the New York Yankees. 

Echo Fox has made its name in League of Legends, but it is also successful in other games. It competes professionally in several fighting games, such as Street Fighter V. The team made one of the biggest esports signings in history in 2017 when they signed seven professional fighting game players at once. At the time, each of the seven players signed were considered a top ten player in their respective game. 

According to Forbes, Echo Fox is worth more than $100,000,000. This value stems from winnings and investments.

4. Evil Geniuses

Heidi Planck Wayne, [18.08.19 01:31] Evil Geniuses is one of the oldest teams on this list. They were formed in 1999 by Alexander Garfield as a Canadian Counter-Strike team. Evil Geniuses has branched out into other games

and has found immense success. In 2015, they signed Sumail Hassan (SumaiL). Sumail is an accomplished Dota player, and within a month of his signing with the team, Evil Geniuses won the Dota Asia Championships. Sumail has gone on to bring a total of $3,265,914 in winnings to the Evil Geniuses team, making him the roster’s most successful player.

Evil Geniuses has several other successful players as well. Saahil Arora (UNiVeRsE) was a member of Evil Geniuses when they won The International 2015 Dota 2 tournament, and he brought in a total of $2,919,231 with the team. Peter Dager (ppd) is a professional Dota 2 player and the former CEO of Evil Geniuses. When he was with the team, he brought in a total of $2,599,540 in winnings. 

Evil Geniuses has brought in a total of $20,751,172 in prize earnings from the 737 tournaments they have participated in. 

5. Team SoloMid

Team SoloMid was created in 2009 by Andy Dinh. As a former LoL pro, Dinh understood the intricacies of running a professional esports org and how to create a successful team, facts that have lead SoloMid to become the only franchise to record a positive cash flow. Team SoloMid has become a brand. While they have only accumulated about $3,000,000 in prize money, their other endeavors have pushed the team to become the second most valuable in the world. Team SoloMid has a lucrative sponsorship deal with Dr Pepper and smaller advertising tie-ins with other companies, such as Geico and Red Bull.

6. OpTic Gaming

OpTic Gaming is currently owned by Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman. It was originally formed in 2006 by Ryan Musselman and OpTic “Kr3w”. At the time, the team was nothing more than a Call of Duty sniping team, but in 2010, OpTic Gaming entered the professional arena when they competed in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The team quickly made a name for itself in competitive Call of Duty. In 2016, they released a book detailing the careers of each Call of Duty pro, and the book became a New York Times best-seller.

OpTic Gaming has evolved over the years, and they have fielded teams in LoL, CS:Go, and PUBG. Their lucrative sponsorship deals with Mountain Dew and Nissan have given the roster an estimated value of over $100,000,000.

7. Fnatic

Fnatic is the only professional team on this list not based in North America. Located in London, Fnatic got its start in 2004 and has accumulated a roster of some of the best players from around the world. They hold the record for the most League of Legends Championship Series split titles, and their CS:Go team is considered one of the world’s best.

While prize money is one of Fnatic’s major revenue streams, they have also brought in a lot of value through investments and sponsorships. In April 2019, the team secured $19,000,000 in funding for their expansion into Asia and North America, ensuring their $100,000,000 value will grow in the coming years. Follow Jason Sugarman on Twitter