Miami-based organisation Misfits Gaming recently joined an exclusive group by acquiring a franchise in the Call of Duty League, thus becoming one of the only entities to operate in the Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, and LCS or LEC.
Joining the likes of OverActive Media and Immortals Gaming Club as part of this rather costly group, Esports Insider spoke with Ben Spoont, Founder and CEO of Misfits Gaming to discuss the newly-acquired Florida CoD spot, working with Activision Blizzard, and why the organisation is committed to investing in the franchise model.
Photo credit: Riot Games
Esports Insider: You recently secured a spot in the upcoming Call of Duty League. Why did you want to get involved in the League?
Ben Spoont: We wanted to get into Call of Duty and the upcoming league for many reasons. The existing CoD esports community is really passionate and is part of one of the biggest player bases in the world for a single game franchise. It has bred some of esports’ biggest stars and organizations, from Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, to Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, to Team Envy, and so on.
We also believe in the franchised geolocation model for esports leagues pioneered by the Overwatch League and feel strongly about continuing to plant roots in Florida as its preeminent professional esports organization. The resources and expertise we’ve developed via the Florida Mayhem will definitely help us hit the ground running with our Call of Duty League team as well.
ESI: Are you able to give us an insight into what the application process is like? Especially with having already worked with Activision Blizzard on the Overwatch League.
BS: It’s a lot of work! While it may appear simple when teams are finally announced, with the creation of a new league comes complex negotiations on many points of business and legalese. That said, given we went through this a couple of years ago with the Overwatch League, there were similarities in the process which made it go smoothly.
“The Misfits approach to esports is that we are in this for the long haul.”
ESI: Call of Duty viewership is considerably lower compared to the likes of League of Legends and Overwatch. How do you see the new league and franchising affecting the esport as a whole?
BS: We believe in the vision of the new league as set by CoD esports product head Johanna Faries and her team. Activision Blizzard will make the necessary investments to take community outreach, marketing, and engagement for the league to the next level and create multiple new programs to reach the huge CoD player base (which rivals that of multiple top esports titles). There are plenty of people who love the game but may not have much familiarity with esports, and we’re confident that the new league will be able to get many of them excited about the competitive scene.
One very promising aspect of the existing CoD esports scene is that local events have been undeniably spectacular. The long-running circuit model has been supported enthusiastically by the community and we look forward to running these types of events in Florida for our fans.
Photo credit: Overwatch League
ESI: Misfits Gaming is now involved in three different franchised leagues. What is it about franchising that makes you think it is worth the investment?
BS: The Misfits approach to esports is that we are in this for the long haul. We want to make sure that the investments that we are making in our rosters and our organization are going to be secure and something we can keep building on, and franchising is a straightforward way to address that. We know it can take time for the model to reach its full potential and are excited to play our part in what develops.
ESI: You recently named the venues and dates for the Florida Mayhem homestand games for 2020. How does it feel to host your own games and bring the Overwatch League to Florida?
BS: Really exciting! I will be honest and admit that this past year has been very stressful for the Mayhem and our fans; we had a lot of transition and turnover with our roster and as a result, struggled competitively. No one wants to perform poorly, especially when looking forward to playing in front of home crowds next year. However, we are really excited with our Stage 4 performance, where we will finish likely in the top 10 of the Overwatch League. On the heels of a fantastic Stage 4, we are more amped than ever to give our fan base a great showing in 2020 as we look to consistently perform well and aim for our first playoffs. When we knock their socks off at our homestand events, we want all our fans to… wait for it… #BringTheMayhem.
“Through the Alienware Center, gamers and fans of any age or skill level can get their hands on the latest and greatest Alienware hardware.”
ESI: Early this year you opened the Misfits Gaming Arena in Berlin. Why was it important to create this space? Additionally, you also recently announced that the venue would rename to the Alienware Center. Why did you want to bring Alienware on-board for this particular project?
BS: When we designed and conceptualized the Arena, the vision was for the space to feel like everyone’s living room but with the best gaming hardware possible. Our Arena team, led by Jake Kuhn, has done an incredible job realizing that vision.
Alienware powers our professional gamers in our training facilities and on the LEC stage in Berlin. We wanted to bring that experience authentically to the Arena and the greater esports community it serves, so it was important to get Alienware involved! Through the Alienware Center, gamers and fans of any age or skill level can get their hands on the latest and greatest Alienware hardware and technology that our pros use every day.
ESI: Misfits Gaming has already had a crazy year, do you have any personal highlights?
BS: There’s been so much going on I’m excited about! This is like asking me to pick my favourite child! In no particular order, I would say some highlights include the acquisition of our CoD franchise, the evolution of our Arena into the Alienware Center, and the emergence of our Fortnite professionals as they took on the inaugural Fortnite World Cup.