Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster launches new gaming org Team Diverge - Dexerto
Esports

Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster launches new gaming org Team Diverge

Published: 16/Oct/2020 13:00

by Matt Porter

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has announced the launch of his own gaming organization, Team Diverge, with six signed content creators and plans to move into esports.

Smith-Schuster is well-known for his incredible skill and talent on the football field, holding a number of NFL and Steelers franchise records, but fans of gaming will know him for his love of video games, his YouTube channel full of gameplay videos, and his close relationship with FaZe Clan.

As one of the most successful and marketable players in the NFL, JuJu is now continuing his crossover into the world of gaming with the introduction of his own organization named Team Diverge, which will start life as a content team with eyes to moving into esports in the future as well.

“In creating my own organization instead of joining one of the big established ones, I know I chose a different path than most in my position would do,” the 23-year-old stated. “I’m not just trying to be a popular figure in gaming for myself; I’m trying to build a special organization that is a platform for others.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster posing in front of Team Diverge logo.
Team Diverge
Smith-Schuster hopes Team Diverge can become a “special organization” that acts as a platform for others.

Team Diverge have already signed six rising content creators to serve as the core of the team in Tubasuki, Micahwave, CitizenSnipes, TheMeatMan, SteelCurtain, and Royalize, with new members set to be announced at a later date. Alongside gaming creators, Smith-Schuster also intends to recruit fellow athletes, musicians, and celebrities who will also help drive the team’s content and help promote the organization. With JuJu admitting that a lot of his Steelers teammates are gamers, it’s possible we could see them take part in Team Diverge content in the future.

Going forward, Team Diverge will be creating a content house in Spring 2021 that will host both gaming creators and crossover talent, something which JuJu is well accustomed to having lived in the FaZe House in the past. During the NFL offseason, the Steelers star will host both the talent and Team Diverge members for three months, creating new content for fans to enjoy.

Esports are also on the agenda, with TD hoping to acquire and create teams in all kinds of different games, including smash hits like Warzone and Fall Guys, and also intends to launch “streetwear-inspired apparel” with activewear brands who will help deliver limited-edition drops and evergreen merchandise for fans of JuJu and Team Diverge to enjoy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster warming up in his FaZe collaboration.
FaZe Clan
Smith-Schuster and FaZe Clan collaborated for a special merch line in 2018.

Smith-Schuster is no stranger to the world of gaming organizations thanks to his long history with FaZe, and even dropped a special merchandise collaboration with them back in 2018. JuJu’s relationship there was clearly fruitful, with the NFL star calling them “great guys” and admitting that he “learned a lot about the bridge between athletes, influencers, and gaming” thanks to the organization.

He’ll be aiming to take that experience into his new venture with Team Diverge, who JuJu states will aim to “move in a different direction than ordinary gaming organizations,” with plans to be “unique in how [they] operate.”

Business

Activision in talks to reduce fees owed by CDL & Overwatch League teams

Published: 2/Dec/2020 22:14 Updated: 2/Dec/2020 22:35

by Theo Salaun

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Recent reports from The Esports Observer indicate that Activision Blizzard are in the midst of discussions to possibly reduce the amount the amount owed by Overwatch League and Call of Duty League franchises as part of their entry fees.

With all OWL and CDL plans derailed over the past year, Activision are reportedly trying to rework the hefty investments that organizations have made into their franchising opportunities. When the massive game development company pitched both leagues, neither was expected to be profitable in the short-term, but projections have taken an even greater hit due to current global restrictions.

A groundbreaking esports concept centered around the city-based model that is used in traditional sports, Activision required $20 million entry fees for the OWL’s first 12 teams and then fees in the range between $30 to $60 million for its next eight. For the CDL’s inaugural season, 12 teams needed to put up at least $25 million apiece, even more for cities that were in high-demand.

Now that the plans for local events have understandably shifted, neither league is expanding for their next season and ownership groups in both are looking for ways to save cash. As reported by The Esports Observer’s Adam Stern, this has engendered cost-cutting discussions with Activision’s latest new senior executive hire, Tony Petitti.

overwatch league 2020 event crowd
Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment
One of the many avid crowds at Overwatch League events.

Petitti, formerly Major League Baseball’s deputy commissioner, was hired by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to a senior role involved with both of their leagues as the President of Sports and Entertainment. He joins Johanna Faries, a former National Football League executive, who brings a traditional sports perspective as the commissioner for both the CDL and OWL.

Given their experience with city-based sports leagues, Activision is likely aware of the profitability challenges that their current esport and sport investment groups are facing. As such, it should be no surprise that they are willing to have conversations about concessions that can make current projections fit closer to the original expectations.

As Stern reports, those discussions have included discounting some of the original entry fees: “one idea that is being weighed is reducing the amount of money they owe to the video game maker.” 

Call of Duty League LAN
Call of Duty League
Following in the OWL’s footsteps, the CDL also had huge enthusiasm for live events.

With Immortals Gaming Club selling their Los Angeles Call of Duty franchise to 100 Thieves and reportedly being interested in selling their OWL spot as well, many are wondering if franchise valuations have shifted.

Fortunately, it appears that the profitability projections have remained somewhat consistent despite current predicaments. As reported by Forbes’ Christina Settimi, 100 Thieves COO John Robinson would not set an exact figure on their LA Thieves purchase, but suggested that “franchise values have held up.”

Activision would likely want to avoid an exodus of owners, so these discussions to cut costs and protect brand health are reportedly ongoing.