WISE Ventures Esports, the company behind Call of Duty League team Minnesota Røkkr, has announced its expansion into Rocket League. The team will compete under a new brand, Version1, and consists of veteran talent including former Cloud9 players Jesus “Gimmick” Parra and Kyler “Torment” Storer, alongside Alexandre “AxB” Bellemare and former NRG star and Cloud9 coach Jason “Fireburner” Nunez. Nunez will continue his role as team coach.
WISE Esports Ventures COO Brett Diamond told The Esports Observer that the company selected Rocket League in part for its accessibility to new viewers. “For a long time, we instinctively felt like Rocket League would make a lot of sense and check a lot of boxes. And as we started really doing our due diligence on it over the past few months, it became more and more clear. For us and where we are now it’s a great compliment to Call of Duty – at a basic level it’s a game that’s incredibly easy to understand, it’s cars playing soccer…from a business standpoint, it has that potential for mass appeal, and the numbers behind it already are very real.”
Recently, Rocket League developer Psyonix announced a significant overhaul to the game’s esports structure, shifting away from the traditional promotion/relegation league model to a more open tournament system with seasonal Majors. This open ecosystem has led to an influx of new team organizations entering the space, including Guild Esports, the team brand owned in part by David Beckham.
Diamond said that WISE had always intended to expand beyond its Call of Duty franchise, but did not want the company to get ahead of itself, focusing on spinning up Røkkr first. The company will continue to explore future expansion opportunities, but Diamond did not specify which titles are being considered.
While WISE is headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota, and is tied to the state through its Call of Duty team, Diamond said the company is not necessarily looking to tie Version1 to Minnesota directly. The players will not be required to relocate or train out of the company’s facility. However, Diamond does intend to activate the organization’s local fanbase through similar engagements it used for the Røkkr, such as local in-person watch parties (when such events are again safe to host).
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