MSG has hosted esports events in the past with both the 2015 League of Legends Championship Series summer finals and last year’s League of Legends World Championship semifinals taking place at Madison Square Garden, but this marks the staunchest push into esports for the company that owns the New York Knicks of the NBA, New York Liberty of the WNBA and New York Rangers of the NHL.
“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 MSG 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. 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.”
The news comes at an opportune time, as Friday was the deadline for CLG — and anyone else — to apply for a franchise slot in next year’s North American LCS. The bid costs $10 million, and CLG’s position became curious in recent weeks as it remained one of the few LCS franchises without a large scale investor. CLG founder and former League of Legends professional George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis will continue to run the day-today operations of the organization and its many esports teams. CLG has teams in League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros and H1Z1.
The news was first reported Friday by ESPN.