Sentinels CEO sues Kroenke Sports & Entertainment over Echo Fox purchase

Sentinels co-founder and CEO Robert Moore sued Kroenke Sports & Entertainment's esports arm on Thursday because of disputes regarding a joint venture between the two entities, according to documents filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles.

In the suit, Moore alleges Josh Kroenke, an executive of the group and the heir of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, did not inform Moore of their pursuit to purchase Echo Fox, a deal which the sports group agreed to for $30.25 million on July 23, as reported by ESPN.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and Moore did not respond to a request for comment.

In the suit, Moore claims the Kroenke group completing that deal without his knowledge was a violation of a verbal joint venture agreement made between him and Josh Kroenke in January pertaining to the operation of the Kroenke's esports initiatives.

Since late 2017, Moore and the Sentinels, then known as Phoenix1, have operated the Los Angeles Gladiators, the Overwatch League team that Kroenke Sports & Entertainment owns. In the suit, Moore states he acted as the CEO of KSE Esports, a company established by the Kroenke group to hold their esports ventures

According to the lawsuit, Moore said he and the Sentinels were not compensated for activities done by the joint venture and that he had gone out of pocket on certain expenses for the Overwatch League team. Moore said that in March 2019, Josh Kroenke delegated all interactions with Moore and the Sentinels to be handled by Michael Neary, a close friend of his who Moore claims has taken credit for the success of the Gladiators.

As a resolution, Moore is seeking majority stake (51 percent) of the KSE Esports joint venture that owns the Gladiators, which Moore and his entity claim to own 49 percent of currently. Moore also seeks relief for all costs incurred.

Meanwhile, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment are currently working to complete the deal with Echo Fox and gain Riot Games approval to enter the League of Legends Championship Series, league sources told ESPN. That deal, if unchanged, is expected to close in 23 days, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN.

Moore first entered esports in May 2016 with the acquisition of the League of Legends slot owned then by Team Impulse, which was banned from the league for failing to pay its players. A former senior vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, Moore and his son, Michael, established Phoenix1 and competed in the League of Legends Championship Series for three splits in 2016 and 2017.

Phoenix1 and the Kroenkes applied together for permanent partnership in that league throughout 2017 and were declined in October 2017. In the lawsuit, Moore alleges that part of this was that Josh Kroenke spoke just once to League of Legends Championship Series commissioner Chris Greeley.

Phoenix1 was later rebranded as Sentinels, with the team recruiting in games such as Hearthstone and Fortnite. On July 28, Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf -- a 16-year-old professional Fortnite player who is signed to Sentinels -- won the Fortnite World Cup Finals solo competition and netted $3 million.