Top 10 Esports Team Owners To Follow In 2020
When it comes to esports, team owners — good ones, at least — are often as present and active in the community as the players themselves. They represent their teams in more ways than one, and seeing them invested in the esport in which their team is competing in is always a heartwarming sight. It’s no coincidence that some of the best teams in the world have dedicated owners who treat their players and staff with the utmost respect. And even though the best owners are often far from perfect, they’ve proven their commitment and enthusiasm on more than one occasion throughout history.
It’s also a well-known fact that the team’s atmosphere and overall energy often comes from the very top — it is the owner and the way he’s involved that ultimately trickles down throughout the hierarchy. That’s true in both a positive and a negative sense.
Finally, no list can truly be objective and, perhaps more importantly, complete. With so many teams and different esports, someone’s bound to be left out. Despite this, we’ve tried to cover a wide array of games and their most notable owners.
So without any further ado, let’s start our list!
Andy “Reginald” Dinh, Team SoloMid
Reginald is as recognizable an owner as they come in esports. A former player himself, Reginald has built an empire unlike any other. Team SoloMid is one of the biggest brands in all of esports and they’re also synonymous with the North American LCS. In fact, they’re the most successful organization in the region’s history with six titles to their name.
Reginald is also known for stepping in whenever his team starts underperforming. That isn’t always the best course of action as it puts added pressure on the players, but it’s hard to fault him as Team SoloMid often improves whenever he takes the reins. He’s respected by both fans and players, and has been able to build an esports empire that is currently worth around 400 million dollars (according to Forbes).
All of this and yet he’s just 27 years of age.
Jack “Jack” Etienne, Cloud9
Jack is yet another legendary owner that is synonymous with esports. The founder of Cloud9 has a different vibe when compared to Reginald. He’s more relaxed and laid back, and such an aura permeated throughout Cloud9 as well. They’re known as a very forgiving, player-friendly environment which is why many top-tier players blossomed beyond belief once they started competing under the Cloud9 banner.
Their teams are some of the best and most talented in the business — they’ve won the ELEAGUE Boston (CS:GO), the inaugural season of the Overwatch League (as the London Spitfire), along with the North American LCS (among other things). This was just a quick rundown and it’s definitely an incomplete one, as well. Cloud9’s long list of triumphs and accolades is far too long to fit into an article of this size.
Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, 100 Thieves
The former professional Call of Duty player and co-owner of 100 Thieves is one of the most fascinating and respected figures in the entire industry. His organization has existed for a bit over two years, and yet it’s already valued at over 160 million dollars. You can only achieve such seismic success by doing basically everything right.
Nadeshot realized that building a legacy starts with building a brand. He knows that creating a recognizable iconography is the key to garnering the most attention. With backers like rapper Drake, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and many others, he succeeded in creating a marquee label that everyone wants to be a part of.
Heck, even their jerseys are a fashion statement and are always sold out mere hours after going on sale.
And if you need even more proof that Nadeshot means business, you can take a look at their recently-opened 100 Thieves Cash App Compound, an innovative hub for esports, entertainment, and apparel. “The new benchmark for an esports & gaming facility.”
Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago, G2 Esports
The legendary League of Legends mid laner is as passionate an owner as they come. He’s a former player himself, and has competed at the highest of levels. Because of this, he knows the ins and out of competition; he’s aware of the many trials and tribulations that an esports competitor goes through. G2 Esports is, much like many other organizations on this list, perhaps larger than life — it is a brand that is synonymous with top-tier gaming, and there’s still a ton of room for them to grow as well.
To be a member of G2 Esports is to be considered as a prime competitor. An elite club, in every way, shape, and form.
Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, NRG Esports
An esports pioneer and a branding/content genius. The former OpTic CEO is a trailblazer in every sense of the word and has gotten no less entertaining and informative even after almost fifteen years of being a leader in the industry. He managed to build an empire from the ground up and is now looking to do the same over at NRG Esports whose Call of Duty League team Chicago Huntsman is already making waves.
His business expertise and tendency to create a metric ton of content around his organization and its teams have pushed OpTic Gaming into the very top of competitive esports. Everyone’s dying to see what he’ll do next as he’s getting carte blanche from NRG co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastarov (who also happen to own the Sacramento Kings).
One thing is for certain: if he accomplishes even a fraction of what he was able to do with OpTic, NRG Esports is bound to become an even bigger household name than it is now.
Gary Vaynerchuk, Minnesota Røkkr
Renowned entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is fairly new to competitive esports, and yet he’s already garnered more attention and respect for his involvement and dedication than the majority of owners who’ve been in the business for years.
He’s rational, dedicated, and is cognizant of the tremendous potential that is present within the entire esports realm. He decided to invest in the Call of Duty League primarily because Call of Duty is synonymous with gaming and is an unavoidable part of pop culture. He’s also aware of its massive, hardcore fanbase and the fact that fans really do want to tune in and watch the very best players duke it out on a regular basis.
His on-broadcast appearances and Q&A sessions are already going viral.
Gary is the thinking man’s kind of owner. He’s cerebral, up-to-date, and plans on being as involved with his team as possible. Just what the Call of Duty League needs: another high-profile figure who’s leading the charge.
Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet, Team Liquid
Yet another wholesome owner that is beloved by almost everyone in the industry. Steve is both a businessman and a former professional player, and he was able to transform Team Liquid into a titan of competitive esports. Such a feat is only further highlighted because of the fact that Liquid wasn’t always regarded as a top-tier organization, and yet they’re currently a premier multi-game behemoth that is further growing and developing with each passing day.
Steve is the perfect owner as he represents all the right virtues that fans want to see: a dedicated, hard-working, and passionate individual who has succeeded in creating a player-first kind of environment. Success (and lots of it) came as a result, as was only natural.
One quick look at their state-of-the-art training facility is all you need to realize that they mean business.
Noah Whinston, ex-Immortals
Noah is not your run-of-the-mill kind of CEO. Back when he first got on broadcast to talk about Immortals in late 2015, there was something different about him, and the fans noticed it immediately: he was intelligent, succinct, assertive, knowledgeable, and passionate — the perfect embodiment of a leader and CEO.
Noah knew what he was doing, and his rationale and logic enabled Immortals more often than not. The organization was able to leave a lasting mark in its very first year in the North American LCS, and has found a staggering amount of success in a very short amount of time.
He founded Immortals when he was just 21 which made him the youngest esports CEO in history. Noah has now gone on to other projects and ventures after giving up CEO duties to Ari Segal, but his systematic and player-first approach will long be remembered.
Want to learn more about the Immortals philosophy? Look no further than the moment when they allowed one of their most important players Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon to sign with the South Korean titan SKT T1 even though they had full contractual right to decline their offer.
But such a deal was in Huni’s best interest, and therefore Immortals saw no other alternative. With Noah at the helm, players always came first, and that’s a rarity in today’s world.
Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, Team Envy
Team Envy is one of the most recognizable brands in esports and has been paving the way since 2007. The organization was initially founded to compete in Call of Duty (so the same roots as OpTic Gaming), but has gone on to participate in almost every possible esport including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA, Halo, League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite, Rocket League, and multiple others.
Their CEO Hastr0, who also happened to be a player first, is a passionate, highly invested owner with direct ties with the industry. Much like H3CZ and Nadeshot, he’s a household name and has succeeded in building a respectable brand in two distinct franchises — the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League.
EnVy, as a whole, has found both success and failure over the years, and they’ve been able to thrive and persevere in the rapidly changing esport realm through sheer passion, dedication and grit.
Rick Fox, Echo Fox
The retired NBA legend became an overnight sensation in esports. After founding a League of Legends team after his son told him about esports, he was as invested as humanly possible. He was a frequent visitor to the LCS Arena in Los Angeles, always screaming his lungs out and supporting his team.
Echo Fox never really accomplished much — at least not in League of Legends — but Rick’s passion remains unrivaled. Even after the organization was shut down because of internal turmoil, Rick still remains an avid fan (and player) of League of Legends. A spectacular CEO and a phenomenal father. He’s given to esports more than he’s aware of, and will serve as the perfect example of what an owner should be for years to come.
An owner shouldn’t just be someone who’s investing money, locking down lucrative investments or running the organization. Those are all incredibly important and vital elements — there’s no doubt about it.
Instead, it’s about passion, about being present in the stands while your team is playing, about being a leader and an example to both your employees and players. Again, it’s no coincidence that the best teams out there have proactive owners who do as many interviews as possible, and interact with their fanbase as frequently as they can, be it on-site or on social media.
It’s about building a brand, and a dedicated, fan-favorite owner is arguably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.