Three tales of an eSports flavour including the news that a Boston Celtics star has bought an eSports franchise, a corruption specialist believes organised crime is just around the eSports corner, and Yahoo agrees to a two-year deal with ESL. There was a time when professional sports stars would head down to GAME and buy a copy of Call of Duty (COD), or FIFA, and fire up a few games with their mates. How times have changed. These days, the professional sports stars aren’t interested in buying the games, they are too busy buying the teams. The latest to decide to buy an eSports team instead of another sports car is the NBA star Jonas Jerebko. The Swedish-born Boston Celtics forward has bought the eSports franchise Renegades from Chris Badawi and Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles. Renegades are based in Detroit, Michigan. Jerebko spent five years in Detroit representing the Pistons before moving to Boston in 2015. Jerebko’s influence has hit home quick. The Swede has moved the players into a training house with a new coach and manager and has also added a COD team from Dream Team, who will now compete in the COD World Championships next month under the Renegades moniker. Jerebko also has plans to add Halo, League of Legends (LOL), and Overwatch teams to the new franchise. The Celtics star has vowed to bring a sense of professionalism into the ranks, promising regular paychecks, minimum one-year contracts, and a long-term vision. Jerebko isn’t the only North American based sports star to buy an eSports franchise in the past year. The former NBA star Rick Fox bought the LOL team Gravity Gaming before renaming it as Echo Fox. Shaquille O’Neal and baseball stars Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins invested in NRG eSports. eSports Integrity Coalition Believes Organised Crime Could be on its Way In a recent interview with abc.net.au, eSports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) Commissioner, Ian Smith, warned that the sport could become the victim of organised crime if the various parties ‘don’t get their act together.’ Smith became one of the first people to create an anti-corruption code in the sport of cricket before turning his attention to eSports, and he has had to play hardball to get people within the industry to take notice, including uncovering events that have been the victim of cheating. Smith also told the paper that he expects the regulated eSports gambling industry to blossom to $20 billion by the end of 2020, and with the black and grey markets consolidated you are talking between $200-$300 billion. The Commissioner gave the new sport until 2018 to ‘get a grip’ before the bad boys moved in. Thus far the only two eSports tournament organisers that have joined ESIC are the Electronic Sports League (ESL) and DreamHack. Yahoo eSports Partners With ESL Yahoo’s eSports hub only opened in March, but they have already made some very influential friends. The eSports hot spot has signed a two-year deal with the tournament organiser ESL that will see Yahoo’s content bloom as a result. ESL will see their matches broadcast globally through Yahoo’s HD service. The pair has also confirmed that they will work together on the development of new tournaments. The Yahoo eSports channel was launched under the Yahoo Sports umbrella and featured coverage and news from LOL, Heroes of the Storm, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Street Fighter V. Speaking at the time of the channel’s birth Bob Condor, VP of Yahoo Sports Media, said: “We want to be the premiere destination for eSports, the fans, and the communities.” This move will certainly help get them there.
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