This week in esports: ESIC, Golden State Warriors, Unikrn and Orlando Pirates

There’s never a quiet week in the business world of esports. This week there’s been reports that Golden State Warriors co-owner is set to snag a spot in the North American League Championship Series when the franchise system comes into force. Additionally, Unikrn has been busy with grand expansion plans and a new joint venture, South African football club Orlando Pirates have entered esports and ESIC has handed out further bans for match fixing. 

ESIC and Sportradar hand out bans to two Dota players

Leonid “Sonic” Kuzmenkov and Dmitri “Ax.Mo” Morozov of Dota 2 team have, following investigation, received two year bans from future Uprise Champions Cup (“UCC”) tournaments following an investigation into their recent match against Yellow Submarine.

Following the Sportradar report, ESIC has made the decision to ban both players for two years from UCC tournaments. The event technically comes under the WCA banner, but UCC are the local tournament organisers that handled the event.

There were clear concerns following the match played in the World Cyber Arena (“WCA”) European Qualifiers for the CIS region last month, and thus the Esports Integrity Coalition (“ESIC”) launched an investigation of the match in question. In addition, Sportradar, a partner of ESIC, undertook an investigation on global betting patterns and fed the report to ESIC. Sportradar are amongst the leaders in preventing betting fraud, using a unique Fraud Detection System that is applied by federations such as the NBA and FIFA. 

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Joe Lacob secures NA LCS franchise slot, reports suggest

Joe Lacob, the majority owner of NBA team Golden State Warriors has been accepted into the North American League of Legends Championship Series as one of ten franchise owners, ESPN reports suggest.

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The report, based off sources close to the Lacob family and Riot Games suggests that the $13,000,000 (£9.8m) entry fee will be payable over the next few years, with $8,000,000 (£6.03m) payable upfront and $5,000,000 (£3.77m) as an installment. Although the previously stated fee for joining the LCS was $10,000,000 (£7.54m), any entrants new to the LCS must pay an additional $3,000,000 hence bringing the figure to $13m. 

Furthermore, Jacob Wolf explains that the application was consulted on by Catalyst Sports & Media, a company whose esports executive vice presidents are well-known lawyer Bryce Blum and Avi Bhuiyan. The company has also consulted on Hersh Interactive’s recent investment in EnVyUs and Madison Square’s purchase of CLG. 

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Unikrn obtains Malta license and enters joint-venture in France

Dedicated esports bookmaker Unikrn has revealed ambitious European expansion plans, having obtained a Malta license and partnered with French company RBP, one of the leaders in betting in France. 

The joint-venture created with RBP will be named “Unikrn EU” and will effectively bring the Unikrn platform to Europe in early 2018. In addition to the partnership with RBP, Unikrn has obtained a Malta license allowing it to operate in a swathe of territories. The Unikrn platform is of course not limited to sportsbook as the company have made various investments in recent times. The team has an interest in German Counter-Strike squad BIG, as well as having a casino group and a content team fairly unique to Unikrn.

Furthermore, it comes after the company’s ICO was recently revealed as the biggest esports and gaming ICO, having done over $28,000,000 in sales. The number has now surpassed $30,000,000 in Ethereum in over 112 countries and the token will “eventually follow across Europe”, according to the release. 

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Orlando Pirates join the esports fray

Orlando Pirates has entered esports by way of FIFA, but has grand plans for expansion into more traditional esports titles. 

A statement on the team’s site read as follows: “For the first year, Orlando Pirates will focus its eSports energies on Electronic Arts franchise FIFA and will later look to moving into the more popular eSports segments such as Counter-Strike, League of Legends and/or Dota.”

The club’s Brand Activation Manager Tokoloho Moeketsi, commented: “The eSports industry is exploding and there is a huge talent pool in South Africa with untapped potential.

“We have noticed that the level of professionalism in eSports has continued to grow over the past years and as Orlando Pirates we feel that now is the right time to enter this industry.”

The South African club will sign no less then ten players to begin with, who will all be contracted. This is a fairly strong signal that they are committed to, and believe, in esports and its capacity to be of benefit to Orlando Pirates going forward.

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