Atlanta FaZe was recently announced as one of 12 Call of Duty League franchises, standing out from the other brands in both of Activision Blizzard’s franchised leagues. It is widely believed and rumoured that franchise names have to be exclusive to the league they’re in, though Atlanta FaZe utilises FaZe Clan‘s popular name – seemingly dismissing the rule and indicating a potential for more brand crossovers in the future of both the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League.
To understand once and for all just how involved FaZe Clan is with the franchise and how Atlanta FaZe came to be, Esports Insider spoke with Paul Hamilton, President and CEO of Atlanta Esports Ventures.
Esports Insider: Can you provide some context as to how Atlanta FaZe exists? Does FaZe Clan co-own the spot with Atlanta Esports Ventures or is it purely a partnership?
They are an equity partner with us in the Atlanta FaZe. FaZe Clan co-owns the franchise with Atlanta Esports Ventures.
We have a common friend who made an introduction between their CEO and I. For maybe eight months we had been having conversations, we knew that we wanted to be part of the Call of Duty League whenever that came about.
We were just having general conversations with the FaZe Clan guys and that evolved as we decided to take a franchise. We started to discuss the possibility of partnering up and creating a new brand in Atlanta called the Atlanta FaZe, leaning into the excitement of that fan base while creating a unique brand that would be dedicated to Atlanta and be FaZe Clan’s Call of Duty team.
ESI: It’s widely believed that brands have to be exclusive to whichever league they’re in but Atlanta FaZe doesn’t fit in with that. Can you explain the process of making Atlanta FaZe a reality, especially when working with Activision Blizzard?
All I can say to you on that – you could talk to the league about it – is that we worked with Call of Duty League for many months on the branding. We’re really excited to have something where people know that they co-own the team with us, we think that the new branding and the way that it came out with Atlanta FaZe is something that’s really neat. Not just for us but for the whole league.
“We’re going to look to expand our footprint and our presence across more esports and content.”
ESI: How was the process for acquiring a franchise in Call of Duty League in comparison to the Overwatch League?
I can’t speak to the process exactly. Once we knew that the league was going to exist, we put forward that we’d be really interested in having a Call of Duty franchise in Atlanta and we worked together with the league to accomplish that.
ESI: Do you see a world in which Atlanta Esports Ventures operates in esports outside of a franchised league?
That’s a great question actually. We had a good idea that Activision Blizzard would be a great partner and operator, they have treated us really well and they run their company very professionally. That was a fit for Cox Enterprises and I, and the other owners in this league are really impressive too. It’s really easy to do business with them and that’s what attracted us to this version of esports.
This isn’t it for Atlanta Esports Ventures, we want to be one of the global leaders in esports and we’re going to look to expand our footprint and our presence across more esports and content. We would look at other games and have indeed looked at them.
ESI: Have you secured a venue for the inaugural season yet? If so, can you discuss it at all?
Yes we have but I can’t speak on it yet. What I can tell you is that we’re going to have multiple venues.
ESI: Did Atlanta FaZe being leaked change how you handled the announcement at all?
No it didn’t. A lot of people get frustrated by players or brands being leaked but I have a different take on it. I’m just excited that people care enough and work that hard to unveil it. It means they have the sort of passion that I have.
So no, it didn’t change anything, we were really excited about what we were doing that it didn’t dampen it at all. You’ve got to give it to guys like you, Jacob Wolf, and the others in the industry that do those things. I think it’s really cool that you guys care as much as we do.
I think that we should be grateful to all these people that are working their tails off to figure this stuff out because they’re excited about it.
“It’s going to be an amazing first season and I think you’re going to see a lot of growth from there.”
ESI: With Call of Duty’s long history as a mid-tier esport, were you hesitant at all to buy into the league?
Not at all. I think everything that we’re doing is pioneering so it’s really about what you believe is going to happen going forward. I think Call of Duty is one of the strongest brands around and it’s also a game that I actually enjoy playing, so that helps.
I didn’t have any hesitation about it at all. It’s an amazing game and I think it’s going to explode. It’s going to be an amazing first season and I think you’re going to see a lot of growth from there. We hope that we’re right and we can bring this thing to a much bigger audience.