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A year ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined a group of investors in a $7 million Series A round of funding with Unikrn, a gaming startup that that allows users to watch and bet on games.
Yet that type of investment may not stretch to e-sports franchises any time soon.
“I haven’t and won’t invest in teams,” Cuban recently told Fusion.net. “Right now, it’s a gold rush to buy and sell and build teams. That’s creating a confused market. But more importantly, I’m worried about how quickly players burn out. It’s a grind to keep up and to become great. Particularly at [League of Legends]. I know teams are trying to do more, but the number of hours involved is a real concern for me. I’m not closing the door, but it’s not something I would pursue right now.”
For example, Korean League of Legends player contracts have specific language stating that gamers must devote 12–13 hours of practice per day, according to Mashable.
Despite Cuban’s cautious approach, a handful of NBA franchises and owners investing in e-sports teams. Last month, the Philadelphia 76ers became the first U.S. professional sports team to purchase e-sports franchises while a group of sports team owners acquired a controlling interest in Team Liquid shortly thereafter.
Just a day following the Team Liquid announcement, Memphis Grizzlies co-owner and co-executive chairman Steve Kaplan also reportedly increased his stake in gaming team Immortals, becoming a major shareholder.
With all of the excitement, the one constant question right now is, who will be the next NBA figure to align with an e-sports team?