SK Gaming, Renegades join World Esports Association

Jonas Jerebko, of the Boston Celtics, plays CS:GO with his esports team, Renegades. Ricky Rhodes for ESPN

SK Gaming and Renegades have joined the World Esports Association (WESA), the organization announced on Thursday. The teams are the eighth and ninth esports teams to join the governing association, which focuses on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and the 10th overall organization to be involved.

"We're thrilled that SK Gaming and Renegades have elected to add their esports brands to the growing collection of leading teams that comprise WESA," WESA commissioner Ken Hershman said in a press release. "These teams will be a positive influence within WESA, and their contributions in the months and years ahead will be an important part of enhancing our collective vision for the organization."

Ninjas in Pyjamas, mousesports, Virtus.Pro, Natus Vincere, G2 Esports, Fnatic and Team EnVyUs, as well as tournament organizer ESL, are all part of WESA.

Renegades is the second North American-operated team to join. When first launched, WESA was primarily composed of European teams and organizations.

Renegades owner, Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko, said in the press release: "To reiterate what I said when I purchased Renegades a few months back, I plan to operate our organization in the same fashion that NBA teams function -- with respect and support for the players and an appreciation for the fans. The esports industry is evolving, and the parallels to mainstream sports are becoming clearer. My experience in sports can positively impact Renegades and, in turn, the esports industry, and I firmly believe that WESA is the right association to help realize those goals."

SK Gaming is well-connected among the teams involved in WESA; the organization is formerly co-owned by ESL CEO Ralf Reichert and is currently co-owned by ESForce, a holding company that also co-owns Natus Vincere and Virtus.Pro. WESA made a rule change weeks ago that will not allow for multiple team ownership in their governed leagues.

"We have been looking for ways to partner with the leading organizations in order to both professionalize the industry, as well as grow our profile," SK Gaming CEO Alex Muller said in a press release. "We believe that the organization fits our strategic goals with the collection of teams within WESA. We look forward to working collectively with all of the other WESA members to take esports mainstream."

WESA first launched in May with its initial seven teams and FaZe Clan, which left the organization weeks later citing concern about potential conflicts of interest. Since its launch, the organization has appointed new staff members, such as Hershman, who formerly worked as the president of HBO Sports, and added new rules and regulations around the bodies that it governs, including the ESL Pro League.