The news about the state of two more franchising applications came out in yet another investigative ESPN article by Jacob Wolf. Echo Fox are in, and Immortals are… out. And we’ll be honest—we’re not quite sure what to think of this.
In a way, it was only a matter of time before franchising threw us some wild curveballs. But if someone told us earlier that IMT would be the ones to not make it, we’d laugh at the notion. It seems that Riot Games shared this sentiment when they participated in a franchising talk show with the team’s owner Noah Winston.
So… how the hell did it come to this?
There’s no denying that Immortals are a good org. During their 2 years in the NA LCS, they’ve fielded several competitive rosters, had two first-places finishes in the regular split, even going to a World Championship. Not only that, but they’ve also built up a faithful fan base and expressed a lot of good will when dealing with players, teams, and Riot representatives.
By all means, they should’ve been the perfect partners for the NA LCS. And while Jacob Wolf does cite IMT’s participation in the Overwatch League (OWL) as a possible reason for their leave, it’s hard to imagine Riot cutting one of the most popular teams in the league because of its involvement in a competing esport.
But hell, Cloud9 and OpTic Gaming have also invested into Overwatch, and they’re still going to show up in the 2018 NA LCS season. So what’s the actual reason for Immortals taking this heavy hit?
It’s probably the money.
One of the primary conditions for submitting franchising applications was to open up your financial records. And—this is pure speculations—we’d guess Riot didn’t like what they saw in IMT’s books.
The updates from Jacob Wolf and the insight from the esports journalist Travis Gafford’s certainly seem to imply as much. The 20-million investment into the Overwatch League was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So… can Immortals come back?
We wouldn’t count on it.
Considering the volume of franchising applications, Riot Games should already have a new organization lined up to take IMT’s LCS slot. What makes this even more heartbreaking is that the team’s staff and players were completely blindsided by the news. Sure, this is one of the drawbacks of strict NDA’s, but it feels wrong for people who were recently competing at Worlds to find out about their future in this way.
In the end, the franchising process turned out to be much more brutal than expected.
With Phoenix1, Team EnVyUs, Team Dignitas, and Immortals not making the cut, it’s clear that very few teams were actually safe from a similar fate. At the very least, we still have Cloud9, CLG, Echo Fox, TSM, and Team Liquid remaining in the NA LCS.
But it’s safe to say they’re going to be playing in a very, very different league.
What do you think about Echo Fox being accepted into franchising and Immortals being left out? Share your opinion in the comments!
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