An ESPN report says that esports organization Echo Fox has made a deal to sell its slot in the League of Legends Championship Series to Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a holding company that owns pro sports teams including the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Arsenal FC. Kroenke has agreed to pay $30.25 million for the slot, according to the report, but the sale must first be approved by Riot.
Riot confirmed that Echo Fox submitted a proposal to sell its slot, but did not say who the proposed purchaser is. "LCS is reviewing the sale and will be meeting with the proposed ownership group in the coming days," commissioner Chris Greeley said.
"We're working diligently to minimize disruption to Echo Fox players and staff for the 2019 season in partnership with the LCS Players' Association. If LCS rejects the proposal, Echo Fox has agreed that LCS will be taking over the sale process for the slot. Our goal is to make sure we have an orderly transition and a new team ready for the 2020 season."
Echo Fox has submitted a proposal to sell its slot in the LCS to a new ownership group. The LCS is reviewing the potential sale and will be meeting with the proposed ownership group in the coming days.July 24, 2019
The move to sell its LCS slot may be related to a dispute between Echo Fox founder Rick Fox and a shareholder who used a racist slur in an email sent to former CEO Jace Hall. Fox was originally reported to be leaving the organization but later decided to stay if the shareholder responsible for the slur, Amit Raizada of Vision Venture Partners, was ousted.
The LCS itself also demanded that Raizada be removed, warning that failure to do so within 60 days of May 15 "may adversely impact the future of Echo Fox in the LCS." That deadline was extended for another seven days when the original passed last week, but there's been no indication that further action against Raizada has been taken.
If the sale is approved, it will represent Kroenke's second major professional esports team: In 2017 it joined the Overwatch League as the owner of the Los Angeles Gladiators. It's not clear what happens if it's not approved, however. Riot's statement that it will assume control of the sale process if the deal with KS&E isn't approved suggests that Echo Fox will be out of the ownership picture regardless of the outcome, and may be compelled to accept a lower price for the franchise. I've reached out to the LCS to clarify and will update if I receive a reply.