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The Miami Heat became the second NBA franchise to integrate itself with an eSports franchise, announcing Tuesday a stake and partnership with Misfits, which fields teams in Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Super Smash Bros. and League of Legends, among others.
The Heat will assist in a variety of business-related areas, including sponsorship activation, marketing, branding, promotion, retail and digital in addition to cross promotion of both organizations. During a recent NBA meeting, team owners were briefed on eSports, leading some to invest, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
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“The Miami Heat pride ourselves on being innovative in all aspects of sports and business,” Heat CEO Nick Arison said in a statement. “For us, it made perfect sense to partner with Misfits, a young and ambitious franchise in a sport that is blazing a trail in terms of 21st century recreational competition amongst millennials.”
Added Misfits CEO and co-founder Ben Spoont in a statement: “Misfits is thrilled to be partnering with the Heat organization. This partnership will be the catalyst and foundation to our continued expansion of the Misfits organization into a global eSports brand and company. The Heat, innovators and leaders in traditional sports, will help Misfits to unlock meaningful value across all facets of our business.”
Last September, the Philadelphia 76ers also purchased Team Dignitas and Team Apex, eventually merging the two under the former’s name. Similar to the Heat’s new arrangement, the 76ers cross-promote with Team Dignitas and assist the gaming team with marketing and sponsorship sales.
Around the same time, a group of sports owners—led by Ted Leonsis of Monumental Sports—acquired a controlling interest in Team Liquid. Memphis Grizzlies Co-owner Steve Kaplan double-downed on his commitment to eSports last fall, increasing his controlling stake in Immortals.