When Immortals Gaming Club acquired Infinite Esports & Entertainment and its properties in June, it was unknown what would happen to Houston Outlaws. With IGC already owning an Overwatch League franchise in Los Angeles Valiant, all that was known was that a change had to be made.
In November, it was made official as to where Houston Outlaws would officially go next in the form of Beasley Media Group. To get a better understanding of how it all went down and what the new ownership group means for the franchise, Esports Insider spoke with Chris DeAppolonio, President of Houston Outlaws.
Esports Insider: There was a report on Lee Zieben acquiring Houston Outlaws but then it didn’t materialise. Can you discuss this at all?
Chris DeAppolonio: It’s not something that I was really part of. The discussions around the sale was handled by Immortals Gaming Club so unfortunately I couldn’t say.
ESI: How was your time at Immortals Gaming Club?
CD: My time at Immortals Gaming Club was short, the purchase occurred in June so I was only really with the company for about two months before transitioning to the Houston Outlaws. Everything was great.
The people within Immortals Gaming Club are really rock-solid, they’re looking out for what’s best for their players, fans, and community. They were very welcoming to all of the employees that came from Infinite Esports & Entertainment.
When the opportunity came about for the position of President within Houston Outlaws, it was something that I was very keen on. I had already helped bringing in some partners and with some of the marketing. I felt like Houston Outlaws was a great brand, I wanted to see it succeed, and I felt like it was the perfect opportunity for both myself and the team for me to come in and hit the ground running in 2020.
ESI: How was Immortals Gaming Club owning two Overwatch League teams handled?
CD: It was very separated. While technically Immortals Gaming Club owned Houston Outlaws, we had no connections, discussions, or any real relationship with anybody from that company. Any oversight or major supervision came from Overwatch League.
“They want to make sure we’re a top-tier brand in the Overwatch League on both a national and global scale and locally within our market.”
ESI: We’ve seen a bunch of roster and supporting staff moves made this off-season – a lot more than what was made before in the previous off-season. Is this a direct effect of the ownership change?
CD: Yes it is! It’s allowed us to finally make some moves and changes that we felt would make a better cohesive team and will hopefully lead us to a championship in 2020.
Beasley Media Group is committed to winning and growing the local fan base. They’ve done such a great job of that within their radio ownership in all of their different markets; they’ve connected locally and created phenomenal stations.
They want to do the same thing with Houston Outlaws. They want to make sure we’re a top-tier brand in the Overwatch League on both a national and global scale and locally within our market.
ESI: Considering Beasley Media Group has invested in Renegades, is Houston Outlaws classed as the organisation’s official Overwatch League franchise?
CD: It’s not, we’re the official Overwatch League team of Beasley Media Group. We have some connections with Renegades in terms of best practices, but otherwise we’re separate.
I see us as sister teams in a way. There will ideally be some overlap and some things we can do from a marketing standpoint between the two fan bases and hopefully we can do more in the future. It’s all still so new that we haven’t really figured out what those opportunities are yet.
ESI: Do you have a better structure above the team and supporting staff now?
CD: We definitely have a lot more infrastructure and support, and that’s one of the great things about Beasley Media Group. They came in and they were very excited to dive in and help us. Being a big ownership group, they have a lot of different business units and expertise that they can lend us, so we have a lot of high-level senior support and things down to dedicated legal counsel, dedicated IT, and more traditional business departments.
“We’re just trying to make sure that 2020 is the best it can be for Houston Outlaws and its fans.”
ESI: Has Beasley Media Group explained to you why they wanted to make such a significant investment in esports by acquiring Houston Outlaws? It’s a big move!
CD: I can only echo what Caroline Beasley, CEO of Beasley Media Group has said, in which they’re focused on diversifying their holdings, they’re a more traditional media business and esports allows them to focus on the younger consumer. They can use esports to really grow digitally and provide some new avenues to connect to the younger audience.
ESI: Hypothetically, if the opportunity arose, would you be interested in having a sister team in the Call of Duty League?
CD: I can’t say what the future holds for us at this time. We’re just trying to make sure that 2020 is the best it can be for Houston Outlaws and its fans.
ESI: Have you managed to retain your partnerships throughout the recent changes in ownership?
CD: Our partners are very excited! We’ve had calls between myself, Beasley Media Group, and them to discuss the acquisition, how excited we are for the future, and everything we can do within our markets now we’ve moved the team operations to Houston. We’re currently in talks with them but they’re all on board for our new ownership group.
ESI: Are you prepared for your first homestand weekend in February?
CD: It’ll take place at the Revention Music Center. It’s a concert venue that holds over 2,000 people with great sight-lines, awesome sound quality – it’s going to be extremely loud, both because of the great sound system and because I think our fans are going to really show up.
Ticket sales have been extremely promising, we have around three months until we open things up against London Spitfire and we’re excited that fans don’t have to go too far to watch us play this time.