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Cloud9 owner Jack discusses acquiring Kongdoo Panthera and try-out fee controversy

CEO and owner of Cloud9 Jack Etienne on Monday discussed his organization's acquisition of the Korean Overwatch team Kongdoo Panthera.
CEO and owner of Cloud9 Jack Etienne on Monday discussed his organization's acquisition of the Korean Overwatch team Kongdoo Panthera.

CEO and owner of Cloud9 Jack Etienne on Monday discussed his organization’s acquisition of the Korean Overwatch team Kongdoo Panthera.

On a thread that pondered if it was cheaper to sign Korean free agents or — in Cloud9’s case — an entire roster in Korea. Jack explained that Cloud9 didn’t go to Korea because picking up the roster would be any cheaper, and came to decision of signing Kongdoo after encountering a number of obstacles.

“We did not go to Korea to get any sort of discount, far from it,” he wrote. “Initially we tried out players across three three regions in an effort to build the strongest roster for OWL. We ran into various obstacles during that process and in the end we concluded the best option was to acquire Kongdoo Panthera. Regardless of their substantial buyouts we recognized how talented these players are and that their compensation should reflect that talent. We offered the players salaries which I’m certain make them the highest paid roster in the league.”

Jack also added some context to the Overwatch League as a whole, and wrote that Cloud9 has neither charged nor been charged such a a try-out fee. As their requests have been denied or ignored by teams outside of the Overwatch League however, he wrote that the option of acquiring a fully functioning team more attractive.

The issue of paid try-outs was first reported by journalist Duncan “Thorin” Shields on Saturday, whose sources said that endemic teams have been charging up to five figures from teams that are in the Overwatch League in order to try-out players without the player’s knowledge. As most of the endemic Overwatch teams haven’t been able to join Season 1 of the Overwatch League but still have talented players under contract, the added price tag for try-outs had allegedly made organizations overlook certain players.

Although Etienne’s comments show that Cloud9 hasn’t been encountering such situations, whether or not teams have asked for try-out fees from other Overwatch League teams is still left ambiguous.

Cloud9 is one of the 12 teams that will be competing in Season 1 of the Overwatch League as the owner of the London franchise. The inaugural season is set to take place in the new Blizzard esports Arena in Burbank on Jan. 10, and a series of exhibition matches starting on Dec. 6.

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