Posts in Antitrust
Esports Levels Up - Franchising & Antitrust

The year was 2017. It was a simpler time - no 16 seed had beat a 1 seed in March - but that is when the world of esports revolutionized. League of Legends had announced its 2018 season of the North America League Championship Series would move to a franchise model. The Overwatch League (“OWL”), a franchise league for Blizzard’s popular title Overwatch, was beginning to take shape. And then, like UMBC’s upset, the NBA announced an esports franchise league out of nowhere: the NBA 2K League (“2K League”). For the inaugural season of the League, seventeen of the thirty NBA franchises will participate.

Up until the announcement of the 2K League, every franchise league looked like a shell of what we know. For example, the the OWL has city based teams, like the San Francisco Shock, player minimums, and player benefits. The announcement of the OWL promised more than this shell, specifically announcing a player combine and draft. These events, however, never came to fruition. Then came the 2K League, with not only player minimums and and city based teams, but also a combine and a draft. The 2K League announced an application process, followed up by a player combine, and then a draft. Thousands applied, 250 people participated in the combine, 102 and will be draft eligible. The combine ran through the month of February and the draft lottery order was selected on March 13 (with Mavs Gaming, the Dallas Mavericks, winning the first overall pick). The draft will take place April 4 at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden’s Lobby (1 p.m. ET).

Although it is incredible to see the growth of esports and creation of franchise leagues, one has to wonder whether these leagues will ever face litigation surrounding a complex body of law that all traditional sports leagues have faced: Antitrust. This post seeks to give a 30,000 foot view of antitrust, what defenses/exemptions are available, and present arguments for the leagues. A majority of the discussion will focus on the 2K League because, to me, it presents the greatest antitrust battle.

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2018 Sports Law Hot Topics To Watch

Per usual, I would like to make my predictions regarding what topics I believe will be extra sizzlin' in 2018, but I will do so in a slightly different way. Here are brief descriptions of what each topic is, some insight as to why I have it on my predictions list, and who you can pay attention to for the latest news, updates, and analysis throughout the upcoming year:

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5 Reasons Why the League of Legends 2017 World Championships Changes Better Achieve "Competitive Balance"

Last Tuesday, Riot hosted and livestreamed the 2017 Worlds Group Draw Pulls for its monstrously popular video game League of Legends to fill in the tournament bracket and see who will be playing who in China from September 24 to November 4. The League Championship Series (LCS) is comprised of 13 regions - based geographically - so that teams from all regions compete in Worlds across the stages. Here are the LCS regions:

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Significant NCAA Basketball Rule Changes for the 2015-2016 Season

Come hither, ye fans of the university sports, for we can rejoice over the arrival of college basketball season!

The NCAA approved a series of compelling changes to the NCAA Men's Basketball rule book during the off-season to spice things up a bit. Back in June, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel gave the green light on proposals and officiating focus areas with three identifiable goals in mind: (1) to improve the pace of play, (2) create a better balance of offense and defense, and (3) to "reduce the physicality in the sport." Do not fret over these changes, anxious basketball junkies. In case you need a refresher or just completely missed the memo, below is a summary of the significant rule changes and their legal gravity.

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In Memoriam: The New York Giants & Brooklyn Dodgers

Whether you hope "Back to the Future 2" is correct (that the New York Mets win the World Series in 2015) or prefer the dodgers to advance, let us pay tribute to the event in the legal world of sports that paved the way for the mets franchise to exist and may have unintentionally created some heat between the teams in this series - the 1957 relocation of two of New York's first professional baseball franchises, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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StubHub May Have Found the "Golden Ticket" in the Contest for the Resale Ticket Market

EBay-owned ticket reseller StubHub announced that it is filing suit against Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc., the nation's primary ticket seller for sporting and entertainment events, and the NBA's Golden State Warriors, the team that some boast is now "clearly, clearly the best team in the league" and may have this season's MVP as its leader. In the complaint filed on Monday, StubHub alleges that Ticketmaster and the NBA team engaged in "unfair and illegal anti-competitive business practices that prevents the fans from deciding how they want to resell their tickets and which artificially drives up ticket prices." You can read the full complaint here at your own pleasure.

I know what you are thinking. How can a company and a team prevent fans from reselling tickets in the secondary market where StubHub operates, especially when Ticketmaster is mostly known for operating the initial sale of the team's tickets in the primary market?

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NCAAM Tournament Broadcasting Revenues Under the Law

Since most of us are dedicated to sitting in front of multiple televisions addicted to March Madness, I decided to present this post in a more interactive format to liven up your life. If you are curious as to why the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament revenues are distributed the way they are or would like to learn how they are distributed to begin with, this is for you. The madness in March is not just in the games themselves. It also has roots (or, should I say, a lack thereof) in the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961.

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