This story was originally published by ESPN Brazil and translated from Portuguese.
Simplicity Esports will be running Flamengo's esports operations, sources told ESPN Esports Brazil.
Jed Kaplan, who is also a minority owner of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, owns Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company. The company has been seeking to license the Flamengo brand since early 2019, as revealed by an ESPN Esports report in June last year.
The first proposal, however, came at a troubled time for Flamengo. At the time, Flamengo only wanted to hear about things related to its soccer team and ended up declining the original $3 million proposal over 10 years. The value for this new contract is still unknown.
With the end of Go4It's contract with Flamengo in 2019, the club had to look for another company to lead its esports team's operations, and it was with Simplicity and OutField that the deal was closed. Jed Kaplan's idea is to make Flamengo eSports the "first internationally projected esports team in Latin America," according to sources.
Simplicity will have support from Team oNe to move the project forward. A strategic collaboration between the companies was signed so Flamengo will be able to use the One Academy facilities, at Shopping D, in São Paulo, to accommodate the Flamengo players in their training. Players are already enjoying their new headquarters while training for the upcoming Brazilian League of Legends season. The CBLOL spring season kicks off Jan. 25.
Taking the front of the business side, Simplicity will consult OutField, a Brazilian company that operates in the esports and traditional sports market developing marketing and management strategies. OutField will be in charge of the commercial front for Simplicity Esports and Flamengo eSports. Among the companies they consult for are soccer clubs like Milan and Flamengo.
Among OutField's partners is Pedro Oliveira, one of the investors and board members of Team oNe. OutField will only be responsible for the business side of the team and will not interfere with Simplicity or Flamengo's management.
With the deal closed, Simplicity Esports will embrace the Flamengo brand in its overseas activities and bring the red-and-black to over 100 esports arenas around the U.S. Simplicity already have teams for esports like PUBG, Smite, Apex Legends, Gears of War and NHL.
The brand has the task of keeping Flamengo at the top of the League of Legends scene in Brazil, even after the departure of important players like Felipe 'brTT' Goncalves, who declared that he did not trust Flamengo's esports plan.
Simplicity brought in Fred Tannure, a big name related to Flamengo esports history. Tannure was in Flamengo's marketing department throughout the creation process of the esports team and now, at Simplicity, will be fully dedicated to the project.
Is it against the rules?
Many questions will be asked about the arrival of Simplicity and the involvement of Team oNe and Flamengo (because Team oNe was relegated following the 2019 CBLOL season). According to the 2019 CBLOL rules:
"3.5.5 Relegated Teams. No team member who has participated in the CB or CD may purchase, receive or take control of a CB team prior to the end of the Stage in which they participated. A demoted league organization (CB or CD) must remain outside the league from which it has been demoted for at least one full Stage (except when two teams from the same organization switch leagues at the same time through the Promotion and Relegation process). After that period, the acquisition of another team/organization is permitted to return to the league from which it was relegated. Season officials will make a final decision regarding team ownership, issues related to multi-team restrictions and other relationships that may have an adverse impact on Season's competitive integrity."
Since the 2020 rules guide is not available yet, it is uncertain whether this move will hurt any team. It is worth mentioning that Simplicity has made a commercial agreement with Team oNe and OutField, so the organization responsible for Flamengo's esports team is an American company. Team oNe and OutField are not involved in running Flamengo.
It's also worth keeping in mind the portion of the rule that says "Season officials will have the final decision on team ownership," which means the move has to pass Riot Games approval. Since the team is already confirmed for CBLOL 2020, it seems that the deal has been approved by Riot.
Flamengo in the 2020 CBLOL
With the CBLOL season starting soon, Flamengo is already using the One Academy facilities for preparations. The team bet on building a team around Bruno "Goku" Miyaguchi and Han "Luci" Chang-hoon, the only remnants from last season's squad. Players like Leonardo 'Robo' Souza, brTT and Lee "Shrimp" Byeong-hoon all left the club after their contracts ended.
For the start of the season, Flamengo signed new players and enlarged their roster. The new signings are Jeong "WooFe" Woo-cheol and Álvaro Miguel "VVvert" Martins (top lane), Filipe "Ranger" Brombilla and Wyllian "Asta" Adriano (jungle), Eduardo "Aslan" Nunes (mid lane), Luis Felipe "Absolut" Carvalho (bot lane) and Gabriel "JoJo" Dzelme (support). Thiago "Djokovic" Maia and Seong "Reven" Sang-hyeon form the coaching staff.
The team is taking a risk on Absolut who spent the last few months of 2019 away from Team oNe (his last team) because of tendinitis, and there is no backup to his position. It's something that led Team oNe to be relegated to the Challenger Circuit. Team oNe's owner at the time, Alexandre Kakavel, said in an interview with ESPN that he believed the player would be able to return in time to keep the team in contention.