Home Business Immortals Gaming Club CEO Ari Segal Discusses OpTic Acquisition, Return to LCS

Immortals Gaming Club CEO Ari Segal Discusses OpTic Acquisition, Return to LCS

by H.B. Duran

ari IGC Interview

Credit: Immortals Gaming Club

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On June 12, Immortals Gaming Club Database-Link-e1521645463907 (IGC) announced the acquisition of Infinite Esports & Entertainment Database-Link-e1521645463907, the parent company of OpTic Gaming Database-Link-e1521645463907 and the Houston Outlaws Database-Link-e1521645463907 Overwatch LeagueDatabase-Link-e1521645463907 (OWL) team.

According to Activision Blizzard Database-Link-e1521645463907 guidelines, all OWL teams are exclusively owned by the league in a manner similar to the NBA and NFL. This means any existing esports organizations cannot play under their existing trademark (e.g. Immortals plays as Los Angeles Valiant Database-Link-e1521645463907).

IGC has been selected for a Los Angeles, California, slot in the upcoming franchised Call of Duty Database-Link-e1521645463907 League (CDL) and will play under the OpTic Gaming brand. Founded in 2006, OpTic is one of the longest-running and most popular Call of Duty teams in the world, backed by a community of fans referred to as the “Green Wall.”

IGC CEO Ari Segal believes that unlike OWL, rebranding OpTic isn’t necessary as long as the trademark plays exclusively in the CDL.

“I have a different understanding of [Activision] Blizzard’s rules and guidelines,” Segal told The Esports Observer. “My reading is that a single brand could be applied to [Activision] Blizzard’s franchise leagues. OpTic is Call of Duty and as long as we have anything to say about it, will always be Call of Duty.”


Credit: OpTic Gaming

Beginning in 2020, assuming it follows the same pattern as the Overwatch League, the Call of Duty esports scene will be restricted almost exclusively to the Call of Duty League and related events, which would make CDL effectively the only competitive space for Activision’s shooter franchise. Major players in the Call of Duty competitive scene including 100 Thieves Database-Link-e1521645463907 and OpTic’s long-time rival, FaZe Clan Database-Link-e1521645463907 also have valuable teams in games like League of Legends Database-Link-e1521645463907, Counter-Strike Database-Link-e1521645463907, and Fortnite Database-Link-e1521645463907. Based on Segal’s assertion, in order to compete in CDL under their established trademark, releasing these other teams would be required. If this is correct, OpTic could be the only legacy brand remaining in Call of Duty.

“We went out aggressively because we felt that OpTic as a brand and as a community was the crown jewel in all of esports,” said Segal. “As we thought about our broader portfolio, having the crown jewel of esports at the heart of that was something we felt that we needed to have.”

“Something we really like about esports as an industry is that there’s room for different success models.”

The Esports Observer reached out to Activision Blizzard for clarification on CDL team exclusivity rules but did not receive a response by publication time.

At the time of the Immortals acquisition, IGC said that it would divest itself of OpTic’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, which is now looking for a new organization to play for. On July 1, the OpTic Gears of War Database-Link-e1521645463907 roster was released.

In recent years, Immortals “embarked on a family of brands strategy,” Segal explained, that includes Los Angeles Valiant in OWL and Made in Brazil Database-Link-e1521645463907 (MiBR) in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

“We started to really refine our point of view and the way that differed from our peer organizations,” said Segal. “Obviously, we thought about the intersection between esports and gaming and the opportunity for vertical integration. We started pursuing acquisition opportunities there, closing on [Brazilian game matchmaking platform] Gamer’s Club Database-Link-e1521645463907 [in May].

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel and pat ourselves on the back for doing it.”

“Something we really like about esports as an industry is that there’s room for different success models,” Segal added. “Traditional sports is like that too—some organizations like AEG participate in multiple leagues and also participates in the vertical integration of that content with venues, concessions, and other businesses. And there are pure plays like Green Bay Packers or the York family in San Francisco with the 49ers—that model has been very successful also.”

Segal says that IGC’s business strategy is reflective of how consumers engage with media while being conducive to the way brands want to measure audience engagement.

“Engagement is the new currency of marketing,” said Segal. “It’s possible that IGC could be an outlier in points of view and be successful and Team Liquid Database-Link-e1521645463907 could have a diametrically opposed point of view and we could both be successful.”

Since ICG is a “family of brands,” Segal stressed that the company wants to be an enabling mechanism for OpTic rather than try to make it conform to its other brands.

Houston Outlaws OWL

Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

“[OpTic] is a perfect brand,” he said. “It is a community-driven brand that resonates, stands for something, and to some degree, we sit on the perimeter on that just trying to help that brand continue on its trajectory. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel and pat ourselves on the back for doing it.”

“We started to really refine our point of view and the way that differed from our peer organizations.” 

As part of the Infinite Esports & Entertainment acquisition, IGC will sell the Houston Outlaws— one company cannot own two Overwatch League teams, according to Activision Blizzard guidelines.

OpTic Gaming will retain its branding for the remainder of the 2019 League of Legends Championship Series Database-Link-e1521645463907 (LCS) competitive season, then rebrand for 2020. Next season will be the first time Immortals has competed in LCS since 2017.

“In some respects, I think this acquisition was born out of our failure to get into LCS originally two years ago,” said Segal. “We were moving our business forward—but at the same time, we always felt that finding a way back toward LCS would be a fantastic outcome, particularly for the Immortals brand.”

This interview was conducted by Trent Murray.

acquisitionsAri SegalCall of DutyfranchisingGears of Warhouston outlawsImmortalsImmortals Gaming Clubinterviewleague of legendsLos AngelesOptic gamingowl

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