Esports has been growing for years, with the Dota 2 annual event “The International” prize pool and the League of Legends viewership surpass Major League Baseball viewership. It’s only recent as two years ago that big investors decided to buy an esports team. Before that, it was players and webmasters of video game related websites owning teams. Now we have professional sports players and owners buying esports teams.
Everyone becomes a fan of a different esport for many different reasons. Personally, I became an esport fan via League of Legends in 2014. One day I was looking for a PC game to play in my spare time. I don’t exactly remember how I landed onto League of Legends (LoL) homepage but I downloaded the game and began to play. Two weeks into playing the game, I open the client on my desktop and saw a promotion for League Championship Series (LCS) and I wanted to know what it was. I clicked on the image and it took me to lolesports.com which is the official website of the LCS.
Professional LoL matches is what I saw once the page loaded. I couldn’t believe the plays these players were making and I couldn’t believe people were watching it but at the same time, I found myself being one of the viewers. I didn’t miss a single match, didn’t matter if it was the NA LCS or the EU LCS. I was even watching the League of Legends professional scene while I worked. Fast forward a year and I was watching more Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) pro matches than League of Legends.
Sports Invest Into eSports In 2014
2014 is the year we saw our first sports related investor get involve with esports. NFL player Rodger Saffold III of the Los Angeles Rams along with his long time friend Kahreem Horsley co-owns the esports team called Rise Nation. The team Rise Nation specialize in the console video game Call of Duty. In 2016, Rise Nation finally made a move to become a multi-game esports team by acquiring unsigned Overwatch team Gecko OW.
Sports Invest Into eSports In 2015
Throughout 2015 nothing until late in the year where we saw two major investments into esports from the sports world. The first was an investment group made up of Sacramento Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov, ex-NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, and ex-MLB players Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins founded NRG Esports and entered the League of Legends professional scene via buying Team Coast’s spot in the NA LCS 2016 spring split. 2016 seen some hard times and good times for NRG Esports team. NRG Esports’ League of Legends team didn’t last long and was disbanded. NRG Esports quickly expanded into other esports titles such as CS:GO, Smite, Overwatch, and more.
The second major investment into esports from the sports would is ex-NBA player Rick Fox bought League of Legends team Gravity Gaming and branded the team into Echo Fox. In 2016, Echo Fox quickly the new esports brand expanded into a mutli-gaming esports team by entering other esports titles such as Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Gears of War, and more.
Sports Invest Into eSports In 2016
2016 is where the takeover truly started to kick off around the world. Former NFL player Ricky Lumpkin becomes co-owner of Flipsid3 Tactics. NBA player Jonas Jerebko acquired the csgo team Renegades and expanded the brand into other esports. Following that there were major moves around the world.
Philadelphia 76ers ownership group acquired Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming. Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber founded investment group aXiomatic (also owns MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers) acquired Team Liquid. Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in Immortals and acquired majority stake. 2017 Lionsgate invest into Immortals.
In Europe, FC Schalke 04 acquires League of Legends team Elements and rebrand them into FC Schalke 04. Paris Saint-Germain bought a spot in League of Legends Challenger Series from Team Huma and made a team called PSG esports as well as expanded the brand by getting two FIFA players signed to PSG esports. Ajax Football Club, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Portugal, Manchester City, Wolfsburg, and FC Volga all pick up FIFA players. Just before the year ends FC Copenhagen acquires ex-Dignitas csgo roster and rebrand them North.
Sports Invest Into eSports In 2017
At the very start of 2017, Milwuakee Bucks owner acquired Cloud9 Challenger League of Legends team and rebrand the team FlyQuest. Miami Heat acquires stake in Misfits a multi-gaming esports team. Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (former striker for Brazil, Real Madrid and Inter Milan), CEO of the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP) Igor Trafane Federal, and professional poker player André Akkari acquires 50% of the League of Legends team CNB e-Sports Club.
This article will be updated as more deals are made.