Immortals Gaming Club, WISE Ventures purchase CWL slots

OpTic Gaming competes at Call of Duty World League Anaheim on June 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Immortals Gaming Club, which purchased OpTic earlier this year, is now the owner of the Los Angeles CWL franchise. Photo by Eric Ananmalay/ESPAT Media

Activision Blizzard Esports announced Monday that Los Angeles and Minnesota have become the sixth and seventh locations to join the Call of Duty franchise league set to begin play in 2020.

They join five previously announced franchises in Toronto, Atlanta, Dallas, Paris and New York.

The global, city-based franchises are being sold for a reported $25 million each.

Immortals Gaming Club will own the L.A. franchise. Along with the Immortals brand, the Call of Duty franchise will add to the organization's esports portfolio that also includes the Los Angeles Valiant of the Overwatch League, MIBR in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and OpTic Gaming, which IGC purchased from Infinite Esports last month.

"By participating in the city-based model, we recognize the opportunity that the new Call of Duty esports league creates for us to tap into two existing sources of affinity: regional or city-based pride, and affinity for Call of Duty itself," Immortals CEO Ari Segal said in a statement. "Call of Duty League also allows us to scale the relationships we've been fortunate to build with both Activision Blizzard Esports leadership and senior management into a new and largely distinct market segment."

Manhattan-based investment fund WISE Ventures will own the Minnesota franchise. The fund is "focused on early and growth stage investment opportunities that leverage our strategic value," per the announcement.

WISE is the only one of the first seven cities awarded a CWL franchise to not also be the parent company of a team in the Overwatch League, the first city-based esports franchise league.

"Esports and competitive gaming has clearly emerged as a major force in the sports and entertainment industry," WISE's Jonathan Wilf said. "We have explored various opportunities in esports over the past few years, and we believe the new Call of Duty esports league is well positioned for long term success."

The new league is expected to be implemented in the next game cycle after "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4."

"We're very excited to welcome WISE Ventures into the esports community and to partner with both WISE Ventures and OpTic Gaming for the future of Call of Duty esports," said Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues president and CEO. "Activision Blizzard Esports is dedicated to partnering with organizations that have a passion for competitive entertainment and share our vision for the future of esports."

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard: "I'm excited to welcome the newest teams, Los Angeles and Minnesota, to our incredible lineup - Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Paris and Toronto - for Call of Duty esports. Together, these ownership groups represent some of the very best organizations in esports and traditional sports who will join us in paving the way for the future of professional, city-based competition for Call of Duty."

-- Field Level Media