Jacob Wolf

I'm an award-winning investigative journalist and storyteller with a focus on esports. Since 2016 I've been a part of ESPN's esports division, with a focus on breaking news, long-form, multimedia storytelling and writing about powerful people and accountability. In 2018, I won the Esports Awards Journalist of the Year award.

Breaking News & Reporting

Sources: Rogue to sign Odoamne, promote Trymbi

Rogue will sign former Schalke 04 top laner Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu for their League of Legends European Championship lineup, league sources told ESPN. The team will also promote support Adrian "Trymbi" Trybus from their secondary team AGO Rogue, moving him into the position currently held by Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan, sources said. VandeR, whose contract with Rogue lasts through the end of the 2021 season, will become available for buyout. Odoamne will replace Finn "Finn" Wiestål, who competed wit

Sources: Evil Geniuses to hire ex-MAD Lions coach Peter Dun

Evil Geniuses are finalizing a deal with former MAD Lions head coach Peter Dun to be their head coach for the 2021 season, league sources told ESPN. Dun will replace Heo "Irean" Yeong-cheol, who parted with Evil Geniuses on Oct. 20 after a season in which the team finished within the top six in both splits of their debut season in the League of Legends Championship Series but failed to qualify for the world championship. Per Riot Games rules, Evil Geniuses cannot sign Dun to his contract until

Cloud9 to promote Fudge to starting lineup, Reignover to head coach

Cloud9 will make changes to its League of Legends Championship Series roster, promoting Academy top laner Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami to the main lineup and coach Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin to the head coach position, league sources told ESPN. Fudge will replace Eric "Licorice" Ritchie, who will become available for buyout ahead of the 2020-21 League of Legends free agency period, which begins Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. ET. One of the best top laners in North America, Licorice should have high demand in the buy

Immortals to decline Xmithie's option, hire Guilhoto

Immortals plan on declining jungler Jake "Xmithie" Puchero's second-year team option and acquiring former Origen head coach Andre "Guilhoto" Pereira Guilhoto, league sources told ESPN, initiating a rebuild for the team that finished eighth in spring and then 10th in summer in their first season back in the League of Legends Championship Series. Xmithie would become a free agent for the second year in a row. He decided to leave Team Liquid in late 2019 after winning four consecutive domestic cha

Sources: Team Liquid close to multi-year deal with Alphari

Team Liquid are nearing a multi-year deal with former Origen top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris that will entitle him to more than $1 million per year in total compensation, sources familiar with the team's free agency negotiations told ESPN on Sunday. No deal can be signed until Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. ET, the global opening of the 2020-21 League of Legends free agency window. That said, he and the other players from the 2020 Origen lineup were given permission by the Astralis Group to begin discussi

LCS players' association not re-electing executive director Biagas

The North American League of Legends Championship Series Players Association has decided not to re-elect lawyer and former agent Hal Biagas as their executive director after a three-year stint that saw him become the first to hold that role. A replacement for Biagas has not been decided by the players, as they will run an election for their player-led executive committee this offseason before electing a new executive director. "I've greatly enjoyed my role as the executive director over the pa

Sources: Call of Duty League will not expand in Season 2

The Call of Duty League will not expand before the 2021 season following the end of its inaugural year, which pivoted away from initial business plans because of the coronavirus pandemic, league sources told ESPN. Not expanding for the second season is not due to a lack of interest from potential new franchise partners, sources said, after the league had a relatively solid year, excluding in-game hiccups for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare such as server issues for online games and last-minute pat

Epic files suit against Apple, Google after Fortnite removal

Epic Games filed suit against Apple and Google on Thursday after the platforms de-listed Fortnite, one of the most popular games in the world, from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, respectively. Similar language is used in both complaints, with Epic Games arguing that Apple and Google holdsmonopoly power around the distribution of apps made for their operating software. In the Apple complaint specifically, Epic calls into question Apple's cut for in-app purchases made on iPhone and iPad

Tournament organizer BLAST ends partnership with NEOM

Danish tournament organizer BLAST have ended their controversial partnership with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian state-backed city development, amid public outcry and pressure from partner teams and on-air talent, as first reported by HLTV and confirmed by ESPN. The decision to end the partnership came as many partner teams of BLAST and both current and former talent, such as former commentator Jason "Moses" O'Toole, publicly and privately lambasted BLAST owner RFRSH Entertainment for entering into a de

Following NEOM controversy, Riot to establish global deals council

Riot Games will establish a global deals council and an ethics committee following internal and external controversy around a partnership it previously struck with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian state-backed city development, the company told employees on a company-wide call Thursday. The establishment of the global deals council will come with a new internal deal tracker that will provide company-wide transparency for all business development and sponsorship deals occurring in Riot's global operation.

Sources: LEC notified teams of NEOM partnership, league did not need approval

League of Legends European Championship officials notified, but did not need to receive approval from, representatives of their member teams prior to completing a partnership with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian state-sponsored city development, league sources told ESPN following outcry against and the cancellation of the partnership on Wednesday. In a regularly-scheduled meeting a couple of weeks ago, staff from League of Legends developer Riot Games' European esports division met with business developm

Sources: Evil Geniuses sign Goldenglue, will start Huni this weekend

Evil Geniuses have signed former Golden Guardians mid laner Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer to a one-week contract and will use Academy top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon for their starting lineup in Week 6 of the League of Legends Championship Series, league sources told ESPN. The Goldenglue signing was revealed in the Riot Games global contract database, a public list that shows all active contracts with players and coaches for each League of Legends team around the world. Goldenglue and Huni will s

Sources: Origen acquire Vitality's Jactroll to replace Destiny

The next three years of the League of Legends world championships is about to look a lot different as China has announced that it will not be holding any international sporting events in 2020. (1:05) What is going to happen to Worlds 2020? (1:05) Origen have acquired Team Vitality support Jakub "Jactroll" Skurzyński, who will become the team's new starting support, league sources told ESPN. Jactroll's first games with Origen will be in Week 5 on Friday and Saturday against Misfits Gaming and

Eight esports team ownership groups approved for PPP loans

Eight different esports parent companies of 13 Overwatch League and Call of Duty League teams were approved for assistance ranging from $150,000 to $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. A document released by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Small Business Administration on Monday outlined the names of more than 660,000 small businesses that were granted loans in excess of $150,000 in the program, which launched because of the coronavirus pandemic. The document does not specif

LEC ends NEOM partnership following staff outrage

The League of Legends European Championship announced late Wednesday that it is ending its partnership with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian state-sponsored city development, several hours after the partnership was announced. Commentators and staff members of teams in the LEC expressed anger on social media throughout the day Wednesday following the partnership announcement. The announcement drew ire as Saudi Arabia follows Muslim Sharia Law, where it is illegal to be gay or transgender and there is no r

Dr Disrespect issues statement, Twitch ban reasoning still unknown

Following his ban from Twitch on Friday, Guy "Dr Disrespect" Beahm tweeted Saturday that the Amazon-owned streaming platform has not notified him of a reason for the ban. On Friday, Dr Disrespect abruptly ended his stream, and hours later his channel was removed from Twitch. Subscribers were refunded their monthly fees, and both Dr Disrespect's agent at CAA and his public relations representative, Gabriel del Rio, declined to comment when reached by ESPN on Friday. A report Friday from indepen

Riot Games exec resigns after Floyd social post

A Riot Games executive who had been under internal investigation after sharing a Facebook image downplaying the death of George Floyd has resigned, the company confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. Ron Johnson, who had served as Riot's global head of consumer products since December, was placed on leave Wednesday after he made a post that questioned motives behind media and public attention on Floyd's death. The post also outlined Floyd's criminal record and alleged that he used methamphetamine and wa

Riot investigating executive after social post critical of George Floyd

Riot Games have launched an investigation into one of its executives, Ron Johnson, after he shared a social media post downplaying the death of George Floyd, the company confirmed to ESPN. Johnson, who is the global head of consumer products at Riot Games, has been put on leave, Riot said. Riot did not specify whether Johnson's leave from the company was paid or unpaid. Earlier this week Johnson shared a post that included an image of Floyd and said, "the media and the left have made George Fl

Sources: Overwatch League MVP Sinatraa to retire, join Sentinels VALORANT team

Reigning Overwatch League MVP and 2019 Overwatch World Cup champion Jay "Sinatraa" Won will retire from Overwatch. He will now compete in VALORANT as a part of Sentinels. (1:34) Reigning Overwatch League MVP and 2019 Overwatch World Cup champion Jay "Sinatraa" Won will retire from competitive Overwatch and instead now compete in VALORANT as a part of esports organization Sentinels, sources familiar with the player's plans told ESPN. Sinatraa is parting ways with the San Francisco Shock, the on

Sources: Team Liquid's Doublelift put on trading block

Team Liquid have made AD carry Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, who won four consecutive domestic League of Legends championships with the North American team, available for trade to fellow League of Legends Championship Series organizations, league sources told ESPN. The news was first reported by independent esports journalist Travis Gafford on Thursday. A landing spot for the veteran North American player has yet to be determined, according to sources. Team Liquid declined a request for comment on
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Here's looking at you, kid: The saga of Hungrybox

To some, Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma is known as a "God." For the greater part of the past 15 years, the 27-year-old Argentine American made his name competing as one of the best Super Smash Bros. Melee. But along the way has come some of the most nasty online vitriol that knows no bounds. This is the story of Hungrybox.
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Features & Columns

Miles Morales becomes his own Spider-Man in his new game

There's a cutscene in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales where, after fighting off a horde of goons attacking a local park, the young Black protagonist reconvenes with a female mute street artist who was ambushed. In a special moment, the two speak in American Sign Language, as the artist explains how, since she was a child, she has followed Spider-Man's heroics throughout New York City. She's referring to Peter Parker's version of the character, but as the conversation progresses, she hones in

How It's Made - How Brendan Greene and PUBG revolutionized gaming

"Blackrock City, May 23rd, 2021," the stained piece of paper read. "It is now 5 years after the outbreak was stopped and some semblance of civilization is getting back on its feet. Even though there are still many infected zones and though whole cities were lost, new centres of community have begun to spring up in the most unlikely of places, helped in large part by the common struggle we all endured. But there are also whispers of darker places, places where some madness still exists." Taped

Vulcan to Cloud9 -- Inside the trade that defined the 2019 LCS offseason

That was the one word to describe Jack Etienne as he sat down to write an email late last year after the League of Legends World Championship. Three days earlier, the 47-year-old Cloud9 CEO flew more than 14 hours to return home to Los Angeles after his team had failed to make it out of the group stages of worlds. How could Cloud9, constructed around four players who had led the team to the worlds semifinals the previous year, be out so early this year? It was their earliest exit since 2015. Th

Martin Shkreli allegedly owes tens of thousands to former players and associates in esports

Martin Shkreli painted himself as a transformative figure in esports. The millionaire pharmaceutical CEO, who became one of the most infamous corporate leaders in America after jacking up the price of a life-saving AIDS drug, created an amateur team in the most popular game on the planet, League of Legends, in May of last year. Shkreli, like most entrepreneurs entering the booming competitive gaming industry, saw a chance for a small investment to pay off big. Two of Shkreli’s former team mana

Renegades, Riot and the danger of absolute power

On May 8, Riot Games permanently banned one of the top professional League of Legends teams in North America, Renegades, in one of the harshest punishments ever levied on an esports team. The move potentially cost the team and its two leaders, Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles and Chris Badawi, millions of dollars of future revenue and sponsorship opportunities. • None League of Legends shakeup: Three teams must sell Every major sports league in the world has rules, and most, such as the NFL, NB

Deaf Fortnite Pro-Am competitor Ewok makes mark on streaming scene

Soleil Wheeler's life changed during a Fortnite stream in March. The 13-year-old deaf Fortnite livestreamer, known as "Ewok," put her hands to her face as she gasped at what happened -- thousands of miles away from her home in the Midwest, popular gaming personality Timothy "TimTheTatman" John Betar had concluded his stream and hosted her channel, sending thousands of viewers her way. In the three months since, Ewok has skyrocketed in popularity, amassing more than 100,000 followers on Twitch a

How North America can fix its League of Legends scene

Team Liquid coach Joshua "Jatt" Leesman and his players sat backstage at the Shanghai Media Tech Studio and watched as their world championship fates dwindled during a match between G2 Esports and Suning. What happened next would determine whether Liquid's trip to China would end after four and a half weeks, or if, as happened last year, his team's world championship run would come to a disappointing end, with one of the best teams in North America bounced before the knockout stage once again.

How it's Made: MAD Lions' dramatic rebuilding project

As Till Werdermann sat backstage as his players and coaching staff walked out into the 15,000-seat Palacio Vistalegre in October 2019 in Madrid, he took a moment to take it all in. For the past year and a half, Werdermann served as the general manager of Splyce, one of the three European teams who had now qualified for the quarterfinals of the League of Legends World Championship. Splyce wasn't supposed to be here. An impressive group stage performance had landed Europe's final of the top three

How It's Made - Bringing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater back to life

2020 has been a year like no other. As the world has been stuck inside amid the coronavirus pandemic, some media and entertainment has thrived, particularly video games, where gaming hours have increased across the board. In some ways, though, 2020 feels similar -- film remakes like Disney's "Mulan", Universal's "Dolittle" and HBO's "Scoob!" have reimagined old franchises with new thoughts, and gaming isn't too different. For years, many game developers have remastered old franchises or made se

CS:GO Weekly: 'Nitr0' leaves Counter-Strike a legend, on to VALORANT

As Nick "nitr0" Cannella booted up his PC on July 3, he plopped down into his chair at his Louisiana home for the final day of his 2020 routine. For the previous six months, since COVID-19 put the majority of the world into quarantine, the professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player's schedule had changed drastically. From 2019 to early 2020, nitr0 found himself on the road more than half the year -- whether that was in Team Liquid facilities in Los Angeles or Utrecht, Netherlands, or

CS:GO Weekly: The profitability problem

Profitability. Coming into 2020, the biggest question for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams was: how do you turn a profit? In the second-highest viewed esports game in the world, very few teams have broken even, with salary costs rising exponentially since 2016 and teams heavily relying on multiple funding rounds to recruit the best players in the world. Lack of return on investment isn't particularly new in esports. Despite what some may want you to think -- that esports is a thriving bil

How It's Made: Cloud9's dominant League of Legends roster

As Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen sat down to write his Nov. 12 post, he couldn't help but feel a sense of regret. Once the hottest young talent in European League of Legends, Zven had taken a risk two years earlier, in 2017, as he and Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodriguez decided they'd leave their team, G2 Esports, in Berlin and travel to Los Angeles for a new adventure, joining Team SoloMid. It was an exciting time: Zven was joining one of the most prestigious organizations in esports, led on the Rif

CS:GO Weekly -- Flashpoint's communication falls short

Flashpoint director Dan Fiden peels back the curtain on the deal between FunPlus Phoenix and Heroic to play in Flashpoint and what happened when the deal broke. (2:08) We now know the end to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's FunPlus Phoenix, Heroic and Flashpoint saga. On Thursday, Bad News Bears, a sub-30 HLTV-ranked North American team, will compete under the FunPlus Phoenix banner in Flashpoint just two weeks after the 18th team in the world, Heroic, did the same. What we don't know is wh

DirK moves from 2K League caster to pro

NEW YORK -- As NBA 2K League players took to the stage a couple of hundred feet in front of him, commentator Jamie "DirK" Diaz Ruiz bristled with envy. That could be me, he thought, as he looked onto the players preparing to load in to their match that DirK would ultimately call. In his spare time, the then-24-year-old often challenged many of the league's top players and at times would even beat them. I could go out there on the stage and do exactly what they're doing -- but instead, DirK was

From Europe to America, G2 Esports' brash frontman Ocelote is building an empire

Carlos Rodriguez, owner of G2 Esports says one of his greatest moments in esports was the backdoor against Fnatic's xPeke in which his team, SK Gaming lost. (1:29) NEW YORK -- As Carlos Rodríguez Santiago walks down the busy streets of Manhattan, he takes in an empire that he hopes will soon be his. The center of the business world, but far from it in gaming, New York provides a new opportunity for the 29-year-old CEO, who in the past six years has built Europe's most popular esports franchise

Melee 'God' PPMD preparing for comeback amid health struggles

OAKLAND, Calif. -- As attendees shuffle through the packed hall lined with rows of people playing Super Smash Bros. at Genesis 7, several stop to grab pictures with a once familiar face whose absence for the past four years has left hearts longing. Brown-haired and clad in a dark blue jersey, Kevin "PPMD" Nanney surveyed the scene at the Oakland Convention Center on Friday, taking in all that he has missed. Once the best Super Smash Bros. Melee player in the world, PPMD hasn't competed in an ev

North America and Europe take different paths in League of Legends free agency

Ahead of the 2020 League of Legends season, teams in North America's League Championship Series and the League European Championship underwent significant changes. In North America, new players occupy 32 starting spots in the 10-team league. In Europe, which also features 10 teams, 24 fresh faces will start. Many rash changes were made in North America after a disappointing League of Legends World Championship performance in October that saw all three LCS qualifiers eliminated in the group sta
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2019 ESPN League of Legends Free Agency Show

ESPN produced the 2019 League of Legends Free Agency Show, a first-of-its-kind live show breaking the biggest roster news in pro League of Legends. With more than 13 news items broken by reporter Jacob Wolf in real time, the show featured in-depth analysis of the news and quality studio production live from Bristol, Connecticut, and Los Angeles.
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On-Air Video & Production Work