North American esports organization Renegades, owned by Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko, is expanding its esports holdings into Super Smash Bros. by acquiring Super Smash Bros. Melee player James "Swedish Delight" Liu and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U player Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby. Both will begin competing under the Renegades banner Friday at one of the year's largest tournaments, The Big House 6 in Dearborn, Michigan.
"Smash is a great community and is what esports is all about," Jerebko tells ESPN about his organization's expansion. "Renegades would like to support gaming communities that have been here from the beginning. We are excited to have Sam and James join the family."
The signings come after both players have had strong years while competing in tournaments in their respective games.
In Melee, Swedish Delight, previously ranked 31st on the Melee It On Me Super Smash Bros. Melee annual ranking, has dramatically risen in tournament placements this year. In June, he took second to Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma at Smash 'N' Splash 2 in Gurnee, Illinois. But that wasn't his only top finish as he took fourth at Pound 2016, ninth at both Community Effort Orlando and Evolution 2016, and fifth at Shine 2016. Smash analyst Daniel "TAFOkints" Lee recently ranked Swedish Delight as 10th in his fall Melee power rankings.
"I'm looking forward towards taking the next step in my career as a professional Smash player," Swedish Delight tells ESPN. "Renegades has the best people in terms of experience, knowledge, and compassion I could work with to make me a better player. When I started playing, I never would've thought I would reach the level I'm at right now. I can't wait to see what I can really achieve now that I have the full support of an organization as great as Renegades."
Meanwhile, in Smash for Wii U, Dabuz has proven to be among the most consistent players in the game, currently holding third in the Panda Global Rankings. He took second at the year's debut major, Genesis 3, only falling to Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, who is considered the game's best player. He then took ninth at Pound 2016, first at Apex 2016, first at WTFox 2, third at Community Effort Orlando 2016, seventh at Evolution 2016, and second at Super Smash Con 2016.
"I'm really glad to be joining Renegades and it's exciting to now be part of a great team," Dabuz tells ESPN. "I have a lot of faith that Renegades will help me grow as a competitor and personality as I keep pursuing my dream to pursue being the best player I can be. I also am happy to representing a team with a lot of genuine people, and what really stood out to me is that the members and owners of Renegades have a clear passion in esports and want to be at the forefront of its growth."
In August, Jerebko, former Team Liquid Counter-Strike head coach James "Jame^s" O'Connor, and an ownership group purchased the Renegades brand from League of Legends shoutcaster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles and Chris Badawi. Since acquiring the team, Jerebko and crew re-signed Renegades' Australian Counter-Strike squad and picked up the former Dream Team Call of Duty team. Smash marks their third esport as a team since the acquisition and rebrand.