The Philadelphia 76ers made some history today, becoming the first North American sports franchise to acquire an eSports team after acquiring controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex from owners Michael O’Dell and David Slan, respectively.
The two entities will be combined and play under the Team Dignitas name. The acquisitions bring together Team Apex’s popular League of Legends team with other standout games including Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Smite. According to a press release from the 76ers, the team intends to manage the day-to-day operations of Team Dignitas, “sharing best practices in sponsorship, sales, branding, digital marketing, merchandising, publicity and more; as well as devote resources to player recruitment, development and wellness.”
“The eSports industry is primed for incredible growth and we are thrilled to become an owner of such a storied franchise as Team Dignitas. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games. We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole,” said Philadelphia 76ers Managing General Partner Josh Harris.
“We are excited to become leaders in making the future of eSports even brighter,” said Philadelphia 76ers Co-Managing Partner David Blitzer. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with such an experienced and respected group of entrepreneurs to provide Team Dignitas with the resources it needs to join the ranks of elite competitors. Adding eSports to our portfolio will provide us with many new ways to extend and strengthen our existing sports brands and grow championship caliber franchises.”
“The attractiveness of this deal is as much about the people as it is the opportunity,” said Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil. “Bringing together gaming industry luminaries including Greg Richardson, Michael O’Dell and David and Michael Slan puts us on track to build the most respected and dominant franchise in the eSports space, spur fan engagement and reimagine corporate sponsorship to create a vibrant, global e-arena where the greatest players in the world aspire to compete.”
eSports has attracted plenty of attention in recent months as well as some dedicated venues in Oakland and college campuses. Several European soccer teams have invested in eSports squads, while in the United States former NBA players Shaquille O’Neal and Rick Fox have separately invested in eSports firms.
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