Shaq, NRG Esports pick up Overwatch team

Former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal gestures during ceremonies to retire his jersey during halftime of an NBA game between the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Overwatch team Mixup has signed with NRG Esports, an esports organization co-owned by NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal. The move comes after the team's contract with Luminosity Gaming expired at the end of July.

The team consists of former Half-Life 2 Deathmatch and Team Fortress 2 pro Brandon "Seagull" Larned, Yomar "milo" Toledo, Carl "enigma" Yangsheng, Daniel "Gods" Graeser, Mark "Pookz" Rendon and Tim "Dummy" Olson. It recently decided to part ways with Luminosity due to interest from other teams, such as NRG.

"We're very excited to have the opportunity to play for NRG," Seagull tells ESPN. "After receiving offers from many different organizations, we felt that NRG was the best fit for us in order to build a long-term relationship in Overwatch. We can't wait to see how the competitive scene develops in Overwatch and we know we'll have all the support we need under NRG."

NRG tells ESPN that Shaq loves Overwatch and took immediate interest in securing a top team for his organization. NRG explored various options before reaching out to Seagull and crew, who have been one of the game's most consistent top squads in North America since Overwatch's beta release in late 2015.

"We love the game and the evolving culture and scene around Overwatch as an esport," NRG Esports president of gaming Gerard Kelly tells ESPN. "It goes without saying that this is a big moment for NRG to bring a team of this caliber and its star players into the family."

NRG Esports is one of esports' newest major organizations, entering the scene last fall with the acquisition of Team Coast's League of Legends Championship Series spot. The team was initially backed by former Apple executive Andy Miller and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, who both own part of the Sacramento Kings. From there, the team built a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad and acquired investment from Shaq, New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez and former Chicago White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Since its release in May, Overwatch has become one of the largest growing esports in the industry. The game hit 10 million users on June 15, less than a month after release.

Recently, Shaq's employer, Turner Sports -- where he is an analyst for Inside the NBA -- announced that its property ELeague will partner with FACEIT to host an Overwatch Open tournament. The finals will take place in the ELeague studios in Atlanta in October.