Team Dignitas has undergone management changes after failing to obtain a spot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series, sources close to the team told ESPN.
Team Dignitas ownership company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) has bought out David and Michael Slan, the father and son duo who remained with Dignitas after HBSE acquired their Apex Gaming in September 2016, sources said. HBSE did not comment on the buyout.
The Slans have been longtime businessmen in the esports community, having owned and run Team Coast and Apex Gaming in the League of Legends Championship Series. Part of the reason Dignitas did not obtain a franchise spot in October was because of the Slans' involvement with the team, league sources told ESPN. Team Dignitas was paid $1.74 million in an exit payment from Riot Games for being declined entry to the league.
Dignitas also has mutually parted ways with its now-former CEO Jonathan Kemp, the team confirmed. Kemp was hired when the organization was acquired by HBSE in October 2016. As the team searches for a new CEO, 76ers Innovation Lab managing director Seth Berger will oversee Team Dignitas, the team confirmed to ESPN.
Kemp, who is currently based in the San Francisco area, did not want to relocate his family to the New Jersey-Philadelphia area, sources said, where HBSE and its Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils are based. Team Dignitas also will be moving part of its operations to that area, with its content teams and others staying in Los Angeles.
It will now begin the search for a new CEO.
"We want a strong leader," Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment CEO Scott O'Neil told ESPN. "We want somebody that understands business, a strategic mindset and, preferably, some time in and around the esports space. That's not a must have. We have some intuition on the future of the business that will either play itself out or not, but we're pretty confident that we have two guys circled who would be outstanding leaders."
The Dignitas and HBSE leaders discussed the potential of applying to the European League of Legends Championship Series in conjunction with London-based soccer team Crystal Palace, which shares two owners with HBSE in Joshua Harris and David Blitzer, sources said. The organization will not move forward with that plan and instead will wait until Riot Games opens expansion in its North American league, according to sources. No timeline has been placed on expansion of that league, although it's unlikely to be in the short-term, league sources explained.
Team Dignitas first got involved in League of Legends in 2011 and has fielded different teams in North America and Europe since then. 2018 is the first year the team will not participate in League of Legends at all.