The owner of two prominent NBA and NHL teams has made clear that his esports organization is now more valuable than one of his major sports properties once was.
Ted Leonsis is the owner of Team Liquid, the Washington Wizards NBA franchise, and the NHL’s Washington Capitals franchise. Leonsis has recently announced that the Team Liquid esports organization, which covers multiple titles including League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and more, is now worth more than the initial cost of the Washington Capitals.
Leonsis and business partner Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment group, are co-executive chairmen of the esports ownership group called aXiomatic. It was aXiomatic that purchased Team Liquid in 2016. The same company also invests in Epic Games, the developer and publisher behind Fortnite.
In late 2018, a Forbes article estimated the value of the Team Liquid organization to be $200 million, with an estimated annual turnover of $17 million. The LoL team has just finished second in the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational and defeated the reigning World Champions Invictus Gaming in the process. The team also secured its third LCS title in a row in the 2019 spring split. In CS:GO, Team Liquid is currently sitting at second place in the HLTV world rankings after winning IEM Sydney in May, the squad’s greatest achievement yet.
Leonsis made the comments at the Wall Street Journal Future of Everything Festival. He was outspoken as to the benefits of esports and the potential growth within the sector.
“If you’re a young person […] you’ll probably have more understanding […] of one of our esports players in 20 years than you will our person playing in the arena,” Leonsis said.
In an interview with Reuters in March 2019, Leonsis said that the purpose of his heavy investment in esports is to try and reach the legions of young fans willing to fill out arenas to watch competitions in the fledgling industry.