Jessica S. August 17, 2019
The Houston Outlaws have found financial backing in real estate investor Lee Zieben, owner of the Zieben group.
Zieben purchased the Outlaws from Immortals Gaming Club for $40 million, according to ESPN. The team had seemed to struggle behind the scenes with funding prior to the sale. In October 2018, Infinite Esports & Entertainment, the parent company of OpTic Gaming and the Houston Outlaws, was forced to lay off 19 employees including team president Chris Cheney.
Of the $40 million Zieben is paying for the Outlaws, $30 million of it goes towards the purchase of the Overwatch League slot, while $10 million is set aside for relieving debts and any remaining payments required.
A Houston resident, Zieben believes that he is an advocate for his community and with all the teams beginning play in their home cities in the 2020 season, his ties to the local community in Houston could prove beneficial to the team.
The deal is set to be completed by the end of August, and the hiring process has already started for many missing spots within the organization. Prominent esports job board Hitmarker has recently seen an uptick in job postings from the Outlaws, including video editor, account manager, and senior graphics designer positions.
The team hasn’t had a great second season in the Overwatch League. At the time of writing the Houston Outlaws are sitting in 16th place overall, near the bottom of the standings. The roster hasn’t changed much either. Following the end of the inaugural season, the team acquired Dante “Danteh” Cruz from the San Francisco Shock, but that’s the only notable move made in spite of the team’s struggles.
The Outlaws likely won’t have a shot at this season’s playoffs, but with solid funding behind them and a chance to play on their own turf in 2020, the team may benefit from the valuable assets that Zieben can provide going into the third OWL season.