LONDON -- As the quarterfinals of the "League Of Legends" world championships kick off at Wembley Arena in London, one of the best known teams has become the subject of a bidding war with one bid reaching in excess of $500,000.
U.K.-based Team Dignitas controls two "League of Legends" teams, but the world championships rules state that the company is allowed to manage only a single team, meaning it is now seeking to sell one of the teams in order to compete in the series. Speaking to the BBC, which is covering this year's world championships live for the first time, a Dignitas spokesperson said "bids for one of their teams have gone far beyond $500,000."
Team Dignitas has one team based in Europe, made up predominantly of players from Denmark, while the other competes in the North American championship with players from South Korea, the U.S. and Canada. According to the team's managing director Michael "ODEE" O'Dell, both teams have qualified for the League of Legends Championship Series, which has resulted in the sale.
It is unknown who is seeking to buy the Team Dignitas team, but O'Dell said a buyer had been found and details of the sale would be finalized by the end of the month. It is also unclear which of the two teams it is selling.
"eSports is growing so fast at the moment. There are millionaires and billionaires coming in buying teams and there are sports stars looking to buy teams. It's really strange dealing with billionaires over this," O'Dell said. eSports has become big business in recent years and the winner of the 2015 world championships will take home $1 million, with second place earning $250,000. The “League of Legends” world championship is one of the biggest eSport events every year, with fans around the world watching over 70 million hours of last year’s championship.
The finals this year will begin in London this weekend before moving to Brussels next weekend and the final two teams will battle it out in Berlin on Oct. 31 for the top prize. The BBC, for the first time, is showing the championships live on BBC Three, reflecting the growing interest in this area. “We jumped at the chance to collaborate with BBC Sport and bring this massive UK event to a wider audience,” said BBC Three Controller Damian Kavanagh, in a statement. “BBC Three will always experiment with new ways to deliver content that young people want, in ways they want.”