The NBA collided with eSports at the weekend as Clutch Gaming met the Golden Guardians on Summoner’s Rift for a crunch League of Legends contest. Clutch Gaming is owned by the Houston Rockets, seen by many hoops fans as the most likely team to topple reigning champions Golden State Warriors this season. Heritage sports will have latest odds, check them out and you will see that Golden State is the odds-on favorite, and Houston is not far off in the betting after putting together a super-team of its own. The Warriors own the Golden Guardians, so the rivalry now extends into League of Legends. Clutch Gaming wears the red and white colours of the Rockets and the Golden Guardians wear the gold and blue colours of the Warriors.
On Saturday, as Clutch Gaming and the Golden Guardians did battle, the Warriors and the Rockets were facing one another on court. The Rockets prevailed in that game thanks to a fantastic effort from dynamic backcourt duo Chris Paul and James Harden, while Clutch Gaming also beat the Golden Guardians in the newly franchised 2018 North American League Championship Series. You could not have scripted it better if you tried (unless of course, you are a Warriors fan). Here are the latest League of Legends power rankings.
Investment in the NA LCS from two of the NBA’s biggest franchises is an indication of the pulling power eSports possesses. From a betting perspective it is already huge, and well-reviewed sites like the aforementioned Heritage Sports have a range of odds on contests. It is big business in terms of sponsorships, advertising and broadcasting revenue too, and established teams in traditional sports like basketball are determined not to miss out.
Harden is the leading light for the Rockets and is favorite to win the regular season MVP award as he leads the league for player efficiency and points per game. His equivalent at Clutch Gaming is Fabian Diepstraten, who goes by the name of Febvien. The former League of Legends World Championship semi-finalist led his native Europe as the most efficient mid-laner for KDA, while he also died the fewest times, and has transferred his skills and experience to NA LCS with aplomb. After Apollo, he has the strongest stats for Clutch Gaming this season after two matches, and that duo has been ably supported by Hakuho, Lira and Solo.
Victory over the Golden Guardians took Clutch Gaming to 1-1 for this season, but it needs to improve if it is to seize glory. There were four new teams entering the league this season – Clutch Gaming, Golden Guardians, OpTic Gaming and 100 Thieves – and it is the latter that has enjoyed the most success so far. And the owner of 100 Thieves? Yep, the Cleveland Cavaliers finalists in the past three NBA seasons, champions in 2016 and second favorite with Heritage Sports this season. They wear the same colors as LeBron James and co and have made a blistering start to the campaign, recording back-to-back victories to leave them at the top of the standings along with most established teams Echo Fox, Cloud9 and Team Liquid.
100 Thieves was founded by by former Call of Duty pro Matthew Haag, aka Nadeshot, in 2015, but struggled in the Call of Duty league. It is now back with a $13 million investment from the Cavs and Nadeshot has set about building a formidable team. Before forming 100 Thieves, Nadeshot captained several Call of Duty teams to wins at the biggest events in the business and his leadership has helped the team get off to a flying start this season, while Cody Sun and Ryu have excelled. They have a tough job on their hands as they hope to beat Team Liquid, led by the superb Doublelift, to glory, but these NBA franchises have demonstrated how serious they are about cracking eSports, and it seems like only a matter of time before success arrives.