This week in Esports: huge investment from NBA franchise owners and Betway sponsor NiP

30 September 2016


Three major moves from NBA franchise owners and a ‘high six figure’ partnership involving bookmaker Betway and well-established esports franchise Ninjas in Pyjamas dominate this week’s weekly roundup.

Team Dignitas acquired by NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers

The first big story of the week broke when Team Dignitas announced that they had been acquired by NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers franchise. It also included a buy-out of the organisation Apex, who have a League of Legends team competing in the prestigious LCS after their promotion at the end of the summer split. Whilst the sum paid for the organisation has not been disclosed, if valuations are to be believed it could be in the region of  $5m – $15m (£3.87m – £11.6m) which certainly ranks amongst the biggest acquisitions in the short history of esports.

aXiomatic eSports acquires controlling interest in Team Liquid

The Dignitas acquisition sparked debate amongst the community as to whether or not the proverbial floodgates would now open on esports investment. It only took a day for Team Liquid to reveal that a large investment group – dubbed aXiomatic eSports had purchased a controlling interest in the company.

Again, the investment comes with a strong NBA backing. Although the total list of investors involved in aXiomatic is over 30 strong, the stand-out names are Magic Johnson as well as the two names heading up the group: Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis. Guber co-owns 2015 NBA winners Golden State Warriors whilst Leonsis co-owns the Washington Wizards.

Victor “Nazgul” Goossens and Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet remain in their roles as Co-CEO of Team Liquid.

Steve Kaplan increases stake in Immortals and joins board

The last of three NBA investments came from Steve Kaplan, who was already involved in esports team Immortals. It was confirmed that the co-owner and co-executive chairman of Memphis Grizzlies had become a “major shareholder” in Immortals and was to join the company’s board.

The Immortals brand was established following Team 8’s acquisition in September 2015 and Kaplan was amongst the initial investors.

NiP and Betway agree ‘high six-figure’ sponsorship deal

Late last night, news broke of a new sponsorship as Betway announced they had signed an agreement with longstanding esports brand Ninjas in Pyjamas (“NiP”) to become the headline sponsor. The figure has been described as ‘high six-figure’ and the Betway brand will appear across the team’s jersey. Furthermore, Betway have agreed content usage rights, onsite branding at the NiP gaming house as well as full player access.

betway, nip, jersey

Betway’s Anthony Werkman said: “We have put a special focus on our eSports offering over the past few years by launching the first eSports specific microsite and content channels. Our agreement with NiP is yet another first and cements our position as the world’s leading eSports bookmaker.”

Betway were the first bookmaker to launch a dedicated eSports microsite in 2015 and have since trebled their eSports-specific trading and content teams. The online bookmaker has seen eSports regularly appear in its daily top ten sports for trading volumes over the past 12 months.

Esports Insider says: It’s been a huge week of news from an investment perspective. Although figures are undisclosed, we’re likely talking multi-million dollar investments for both Team Dignitas and Team Liquid. Similarly, Betway have taken a giant leap with their sponsorship of a very well-established esports brand. It’ll be interesting to see if, and how the gambling industry reacts.