In a twist that changes the face of the HCS Pro League, Money Matches has bought out the HCS Pro League spot outright from Enigma6, partnered with PNDA Gaming, and PNDA is now a professional Halo organization. Furthermore, Money Matches has also bought out the contract of Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller in order for him to compete.
Got all of that down? If not, let’s break this down in detail.
First off, with a lot of ambiguity surrounding the pro scene at this moment in regards to the current state of the Pro League, Money Matches CEO Zachary Smith decided to make a move that he considered to be in the best interest of the Halo esport; he purchased the HCS Pro League spot from Enigma6, who already notified their team that they were leaving the Halo esport after the Fall 2016 season.
“I really thanked Chris from E6 for having everyone’s best interest, and wanting to help the scene even through the toxic mess,” Smith said.
With several teams already sanctioned by Money Matches, including Str8 Rippin and Team Allegiance, and several pros also sponsored by them, Smith confirmed that his company did not want a direct team in the Pro League.
“[Instead] we sought out to look for the best team/organization that would better the future of the game of the league,” Smith said.
Bundled into that deal was bubu dubu’s contract. With bubu dubu in limbo for competing, he confirmed to GAMURS that Money Matches bought out his contract “with every intention in letting me go” in order to compete this season.
After purchasing the spot, Money Matches approached PNDA Gaming with the spot, and announced their partnership on Monday.
— Pnda Gaming (@PndaGaming) January 17, 2017
We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with @PndaGaming
— MoneyMatches (@theMoneyMatches) January 17, 2017
“We spoke with the owners of PNDA Gaming,” said Smith. “We’ve been building a relationship over the past year, and they absolutely wanted a turn. And all we really wanted is to have our logo on there, for us to be a part of the team, and to continue forth and support all the players on that team.”
Smith confirmed that the partnership will stretch across all of PNDA’s current and future esports teams.
In regards to the new sponsor, PNDA Gaming co-owner and COO Benjamin Mercke was excited to partner with a company that he and the rest of his organization have been close to for quite some time.
“Pnda Gaming has always been close with Money Matches,” said Mercke. “Myself and Codee have always felt our two organizations align with many of the same principles pertaining to legitimizing esports, and we look forward to setting a new standard with Money Matches at our side.”
After finalizing the deal, PNDA Gaming announced that they will pick up the entire “Crowd Favorites” roster, consisting of of Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Brett “Naded” Leonard, Cory “Str8 Sick” Sloss, and Kyle “Nemassist” Kubina. Because of the players on this team, PNDA Gaming will have a HCS Pro League spot, and PNDA Gaming will be considered a Pro League team coming up.
We are Happy to announce our new Professional Halo Roster pic.twitter.com/6LLVaELJSY
— Pnda Gaming (@PndaGaming) January 17, 2017
Needless to say, Mercke is confident in this team’s abilities, and expects them to change the face of the Halo esport.
“I don’t think it should be, ‘Is Pnda Gaming ready for Halo,’” said Mercke. “The question is, ‘Is Halo and esports ready for Pnda Gaming?’ We are dedicated to what we do and we aim to continue our growth. Halo should expect big things from the #PndaFam.”
With a new opportunity ahead of them, Mercke is excited to see what 2017 brings him and his team as they have started the year with an incredibly strong move into the HCS Pro League.
“Pnda Gaming is a grassroots organization founded a little over a year ago,” Mercke said. “The growth we have experienced thus far and the support from the communities we are involved in has been outstanding. We feel our opportunities and potential are endless and we look forward to the future in esports.”
Heading into UGC St. Louis, there will be a new pro team on the block with very familiar faces, and Smith is happy that the Halo scene is on its way to going back to its glory days.
“I would love to see the Halo scene not only get back to where I loved it back in 2005-10,” said Smith, “but grow exponentially as esports grows. And with all the negative stigma that surrounds certain things, I want people to realize that there are two sides to every story.”
“There is always a story that the league is not telling you,” Smith continued. “There is always a story that an organization is not telling you. There is always a story that a company is not telling you. Just keep an open mind, and realize that there are people out there with Halo’s best interest.”
PNDA Gaming will compete at UGC St. Louis as a pro team, along with sides such as OpTic Gaming, and HCS Fall Season 2016 champs Team EnVyUs.
For all your Halo and esports updates, make sure you are following us on Twitter, @GAMURScom.
James Mattone is a journalist for GAMURS and can be contacted on Twitter –@TheJamesMattone.
Photo credits: PNDA Gaming, Money Matches