Evil Geniuses confirm acquisition of Echo Fox's LCS spot

Evil Geniuses will acquire the League of Legends Championship Series slot formerly held by Echo Fox, league sources told ESPN on Thursday. Provided by Riot Games

Evil Geniuses will acquire the League of Legends Championship Series slot previously owned by Echo Fox after being selected by Riot Games as the league's newest member, the organization confirmed Thursday.

"In order to be considered the best, you have to compete where the best are," Evil Geniuses CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson said in a statement. "I could not imagine an EG without a push towards the LCS, and we're happy to be able to put down roots as a franchise owner.

"We've had nothing but a good experience working with Riot, and we'll be expanding our operations to Los Angeles to accommodate the needs of the new roster. We're looking forward to the new members of the EG cabal that will make all this possible."

Financial details of the bid were not disclosed, but the offer is expected to be similar to previous ones made by the organization, one source told ESPN. Evil Geniuses had previously bid twice on Echo Fox. The first came in late July, for $41 million, with $10 million in cash and $31 million in contingent payments. The second offer -- $30.25 million guaranteed -- came in August after Echo Fox's deal with another group fell through.

On July 23, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment agreed to pay $30.25 million to Echo Fox for the League Championship Series slot. That deal fell through, however, after Sentinels CEO Rob Moore sued Josh Kroenke and his company for an alleged violation of a verbal joint venture agreement between their two companies. Since late 2017, Sentinels have operated the Los Angeles Gladiators Overwatch League team, which is owned by the Kroenke group.

Riot received inquiries from Evil Geniuses, Dick Clark Productions executive chairman Allen Shapiro and Washington Esports Ventures, the owners of the Washington Justice Overwatch League team, league sources said. Both Shapiro and Washington Esports Ventures are expected to remain interested heading into potential future league expansion, according to sources.

"We're excited to welcome Evil Geniuses back to the LCS in 2020 and support their return to their roots as part of League of Legends esports," LCS commissioner Chris Greeley said in a statement. "With strong leadership and a compelling vision for their return, we look forward to seeing how Evil Geniuses will shake up the LCS and the rivalries they will drive."

On Aug. 15, Riot Games provided 30-day notice to Echo Fox that Riot would take Echo Fox's LCS slot after their shareholders, including three-time NBA champion Rick Fox, failed to agree on deals with either Shapiro or Evil Geniuses.

In May, Riot gave Echo Fox 60 days to remove co-founder and shareholder Amit Raizada from their cap table. In an email exchange with former Echo Fox CEO Jace Hall, Raizada used racist language aimed at Hall after the two argued over financial details related to Hall's company Twin Galaxies. In an email to Fox's lawyer, Raizada also threatened Fox's family.

Evil Geniuses will return to League of Legends for the first time since Sept. 10, 2014. The company, then owned by GoodGame Agency, rebranded their team to Winterfox. GoodGame was later sold to Twitch in December 2014 and put on the backburner after disputes with other teams regarding potential conflicts of interest around sales representation agreements. Twitch later divulged its stake in Evil Geniuses in December 2016 and gave the team equity to its staff and players.

Throughout the summer, Evil Geniuses, once known as North America's most popular esports brand, has been revitalized. The team was acquired by Chicago-based investment firm Peak6 Investments in May, which named LaPointe Jameson as Evil Geniuses' new CEO.

On Wednesday, the team acquired the NRG Esports' Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, the second best-North American team in CS:GO, for a reported $3 million. Evil Geniuses, who have previously won The International in Dota 2, also made drastic changes to their Dota 2 team earlier in September.