Whilst gearing up to compete in the offline finals of NGE Winter Premiere, Kungarna announced yesterday that the team has been acquired by a new organisation, Ghost Gaming. The organisation is, perhaps aptly, shrouded in some mystery at the moment and has yet to announce its official arrival into the esports scene, but decided to move quickly to pick up the team before their first offline finals.
The Kungarna roster will play as Ghost during Winter Premiere but not all their players intend to sign with the org. After this first LAN event with the team, mykL, iRemix, and babybay plan to continue as Ghost while Ajax, ConnorJ, and b1am plan to split to pursue another opportunity.
ex-Kungarna have been playing together for around two months now as a full roster. During that time, their manager says, they have been approached by a range of organisations. They spent many weeks negotiating with numerous high profile LCS/CS:GO organisations and even a few traditional sports teams in the NBA.
This team of confident upcomers blew chunks out of the top North American scene to make the top four in Winter Premiere. They only qualified for the top eight through points, having made the finals in the first qualifier, but then improved steadily from there. In the round robin of eight they came 2nd with only two close losses, and repeated that performance almost exactly in the round robin of six.
Ghost proved themselves capable of competing against and beating tier-two top teams in North America throughout the online qualifiers. Now they have the opportunity to show it at LAN.
Ghost took over the Kungarna twitter to post an announcement yesterday on the acquisition:
As of today Team Kungarna has officially found a new home with the newly founded Ghost Gaming organization and will be playing under the name "Ghost" during the NGE Tournament this weekend at PAX South and future tournaments.
More details will be announced after the tournament, but we couldn't be happier to begin this new chapter with their team. It has been a long road, but we have finally found a home and eager to lead the charge alongside some of the brightest minds in business.
"This is the right fit for us, and we are stoked to be a Ghost team. We’re both new on the scene, and looking to make big things happen. It's going to be a great ride!" - mykL
Ghost Gaming is a brand new organisation, created as an esports marketing arm for an already existing group of large companies. This collection of companies and venture capital groups are being lead in this area by esports industry insiders, who are picking out stand-out new teams for Ghost.
Speaking to one of those insiders leading the org, he said that Ghost and the companies behind it were interested in “picking up the best of the best”; they believe that the former Kungarna team represented “the best unsigned talent” in Overwatch.
Ghost have already proven their ability to make an impact with their recent acquisition of an open bracket Gears of War 4 team. The Ghost Gaming team went on to place 3rd behind EnVy and OpTic at the most recent $100,000 Gears major.
As for Overwatch, Ghost Gaming appear very confident in the long-term success of the esport, predicting it to be massive in the future. They stated that they wanted to get in ahead of the curve as other huge organisations and investors wait for more solidity on the Overwatch League.
Ghost Gaming is a break from the esports norm in terms of its structure. Instead of being an organisation that represents teams and searches for companies to sponsor them, this is a group of companies directly looking for teams to represent their brands and help them get return on their potentially sizable investments within esports. According to the source working with Ghost, this will allow them to invest in their team in ways many other orgs cannot.
They are reportedly planning to provide their team with all the infrastructure required for esports professionals: from salary, to lifestyle coaches and nutritionists, to a team house in Southern California. This is a long-term plan for Ghost that they claim to have the opportunity and desire to act upon.
Speaking to Rob, the team manager for ex-Kungarna, he confirmed that Ghost would be moving in the next few weeks to a large team house in Los Angeles, California. According to Rob, the companies behind Ghost move very quickly and know exactly what they want in return from their esports investments.
"Ghost will keep expanding as fast as we got into the scene," Rob said, "The next 30-60-90 days you will see some massive announcements regarding out plans." When asked what in particular drew the team to Ghost Gaming compared to the other offers from established organisations, he told us, "Ghost also has the ability to put unlimited resources around the team, something that was vital in our search."
"We didn't want to just sign with an established organization and take a "second seat" at the table," he said, "Ghost allows each player to develop his brand, as well as own equity in our team."
I keep getting asked stuff about ghost. I'm not signed by ghost, nor will I. I will be going my own way after Lan— Ajax (@Ajax1OW) 26 January 2017
Despite the allure of that offer, Ghost will not be signing the full current roster. Ajax, ConnorJ, and b1am decided over a week ago not to sign with Ghost and instead to pursue an opportunity elsewhere.
Talking to Ajax, he said:
A few of us were offered a deal we didn't want to pass up. Something offered even before Ghost came into talks with Kungarna.
We were offered the ability to do something great, and although we have been doing good, I think this opportunity opens a lot of doors for our futures.
Even though the Winter Premiere will be the last and only offline competition this roster competes at, Ajax dismissed concerns that there would be slumps in motivation or form:
There are no hard feelings between team members and we are currently all focused on winning Winter Premiere. After that both sides will be doing great things.
We all are very competitive and we came to win this event. We are all friends and all have mutual respect for one another. We came for the trophy regardless of what happens after LAN.
This appears to be an amicable split for the players remaining on Ghost as well. Rob spoke about the future plans, saying:
We have already been making plans to bring in world class talent to fill the vacant spot. We are currently scouting top players from the European, Korean, as well as North American market. We feel that we will upgrade our roster in essence as the players we are looking at have played for top global teams, as well bring substantial brand value.
Ghost only have to convert two matches to come away with the Winter Premiere trophy. As second seed going into the playoffs, they should be one of the favourite teams. Their online performance was excellent but, as many teams can attest to, LAN is a different beast.
Ghost are playing compLexity in the semifinals of NGE Winter Premiere later today. More information can be found, as usual, on our match ticker.
The Ghost Gaming roster for NGE Winter Premiere is:
- Michael "mykL" Padilla (Flex)
- Luis "iRemix" Galarza (Tank)
- Andrej "babybay" Francisty (DPS)
- Connor "ConnorJ" Johnson (DPS)
- Taylor "b1am" Forrest (Support)
- Alex "Ajax" Jackson (Support)
Though, as mentioned previously, the bottom three players listed do not intend to sign with Ghost.