American businessman and investor Wesley Edens, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and co-chairman of the Fortress Investment Group, is in the process of purchasing Cloud9 Challenger's League Championship Series spot and the contracts of four of the team's players for roughly $2.5 million, industry sources told ESPN. The deal is pending Riot Games' vetting process and approval.
The spot alone reportedly is selling for $1.8 million, with player contract rights making up for the remaining $700,000 via buyouts, sources say.
Sources have not indicated what the name or brand behind the team will be. The Bucks and Cloud9 each declined to comment on the deal, and Fortress Investment Group did not respond to a request for comment.
With the purchase, Edens and his group will obtain the contract rights to former Cloud9 players top laner An "BalIs" Van Le, mid laner Hai "Hai" Lam, AD carry Johnny "Altec" Ru, and support Daerek "LemonNation" Hart. Cloud9 Challenger jungler Juan Arturo "Contractz" Garcia is expected to stay with the Cloud9 organization and move to its main LCS lineup.
The spot in the League Championship Series originally went up for sale in August following the 2017 Spring Promotion Tournament. The team initially was in talks to sell to an investment group from the United Arab Emirates, sources say, but that deal fell through, with Cloud9 moving on to Edens as its next in line.
Edens comes as the fourth NBA-related owner currently in the North American League Championship Series should the deal go through. In late 2015, Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan, as a part of a fund, purchased Team 8's LCS spot, launching Immortals; he recently increased his stake in the organization. Shortly after, three-time NBA champion Rick Fox purchased an LCS slot for $1 million. This year, Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and his group aXiomatic purchased Team Liquid and the Philadelphia 76ers purchased Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming. Earlier in December, the Houston Rockets became the first NBA franchise to hire an internal Director of Esports.