Sources have informed VPEsports that former Evil Geniuses and Alliance founder Alex Garfield has made a move to purchase two of gaming’s most popular talent agencies and shall merge them in to one entity. The agencies set to be purchased are gaming influencer agency Loaded.gg and Catalyst Sports. Loaded focuses primarily on gaming influencers and houses some of the biggest names in streaming such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Guy “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek. Catalyst is perhaps best known for connecting investors with esports brands, such as their work in facilitating the Philadelphia 76ers purchasing Team Dignitas or their representation of Counter Logic Gaming.
A source familiar with the deal said Garfield was able to raise the money to acquire both agencies, along with data analytics company Noscope.io, as part of a deal with Maker’s Fund. The Maker’s Fund venture capital investors are no strangers to neither gaming and esports having already committed millions of dollars to multiple projects including FACEIT, Bossa Studios, tinyBuild Studios and the Genvid Technologies streaming platform. Sources offered conflicting amounts on how much the total deal was going to cost, but both offered amounts that were multiple millions of dollars. The sources did confirm that there were no plans to alter any of the client rosters from either agency.
For Alex Garfield, the acquisition will represent a return to esports after a long time on the sidelines, reputedly not through his own choosing. In December 2014 it was announced that Twitch would buy Garfield’s company Good Game Agency, an esports agency he had founded that housed both Evil Geniuses and Alliance esports organisations. It was a lucrative move, but still one that Garfield didn’t make lightly as a lengthy blog post he made at the time indicated. While the move was good for those on the Good Game Agency side of things many people questioned why exactly Twitch needed an esports talent agency and to take direct ownership of organisations. This issue was compounded in early 2015 reports surfaced that perhaps Good Game wasn’t legally cleared to operate as a talent agency in the state of California.
At the time, rumors circulated that several North American esports organisations that were partnered with Twitch, most notably Cloud9, were not happy with the arrangement as they believed it represented a conflict of interest. This led to something of an impasse with Twitch and Garfield who were unable to fully activate the project as they had envisioned with major Twitch partners intimating that they would leave the platform. In the end, it seemed that the Twitch partners won out and Good Game, as well as Evil Geniuses and Alliance, were largely undeveloped, continuing much as they had before.
By August 2016, Alex Garfield announced he was leaving Twitch seemingly to not much fanfare from the company. It was then subsequently noticed by the Dota 2 Reddit community that Good Game Agency appeared to be shut down following most of the staff changing Twitter bios as well as a lot of high-profile changes among the Evil Genius and Alliance teams. The closure of the company was finally confirmed by one of its co-creators, Colin DeShong, via a now deleted tweet. It was also made clear that Twitch would be relinquishing control of the organisations.
Not much was said in the aftermath, but by November 2016 it was announced that Twitch would now be acting as representation for both Cloud9 and TSM, which prompted an angry tweet from former Evil Geniuses manager Scott “Sir Scoots” Smith that added weight to the rumors Alex Garfield had been pushed out. This speculation was compounded when long-standing Evil Geniuses Starcraft player Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson released a YouTube video where he stated that Cloud9 had told Twitch they would boycott them if Evil Geniuses were allowed to sign a Counter-Strike team. Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne responded on Reddit denying these claims.
In the end, whatever occurred, it was clear that Alex Garfield hadn’t left Twitch on particularly amicable grounds and that the acquisition of Good Game Agency had mostly been an expensive failure on all fronts. As Garfield had repeatedly stated that helping players had always been his true passion it’s not a surprise to see him return to esports with a project seemingly geared towards that, although the size of these acquisitions will certainly give the new, as of yet unnamed agency, a lot of control in the landscape. One source who has worked with Alex Garfield in the past said that the reason for his delayed return to esports was due to a non-compete clause in his contract.
A source familiar with the deal has said that while it was almost entirely complete there will be some internal restructuring undertaken by the company, but it isn’t fully decided who from the two agencies will be staying or going. It is said that former SK Gaming 1.6 player Andreas “bds” Thorstensson will play a heavy role in the new venture, but it’s to be decided if all staff from both Loaded and Catalyst will be retaining their positions.
VP Esports has contacted a representative from Catalyst Sports who offered a no comment pending internal consultation.
We also have attempted to reach Alex Garfield for comment and shall update this story accordingly.
Title Photo: Alex Garfield