Japanese esports events organiser PlayBrain has announced it’s received a $1.9m (£1.4m) seed round led by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures.
PlayBrain will use the investment to scale up its team, accelerate growth and help support operation and commercialisation costs of the League of Legends Japan league (LJL). The investment also marks the first major western investment in esports in the Japanese market.
PlayBrain is a ‘leading full-services’ esports tournament and media company in Japan. With PlayBrain’s focus on promoting the growth of the gaming and esports scenes in Japan, PlayBrain’s partnership with Riot Games and Yoshimoto to lead in the operation of the LJL League is a telling sign of that focus.
Mike Sheetal, Founder, PlayBrain, had this to say: “As a company that is multicultural and multilingual, we see ourselves as a bridge connecting the Japanese competitive gaming community to the rest of the world. The investment from BITKRAFT Esports Ventures will enable us, and the Japanese esports market as a whole, to gain more ground in the global esports industry by developing the next generation esports cultural products born out of Tokyo’s distinct youth culture and helping foreign brands effectively enter, and engage, with Japan’s gaming community.”
BITKRAFT Esports Ventures was founded in 2017 by Jens Hilgers, who previously founded ESL and served as CEO of MTG in 2015 before selling the majority stake. BITKRAFT is now focused on early and mid-stage investment into the esports sector, BITKRAFT aims to ‘discover, support and scale esports startups globally with the industry’s most influential companies.
Malte Barth, Founding Partner, BITKRAFT, added: “With a $19 billion games market, Japan is a sleeping giant in esports and is finally waking up and recognizing its potential to become one of the largest markets globally next to China and the US. This investment comes at the perfect time, ahead of the 2020 Olympics when all eyes will be on Tokyo, and Japan’s quickly growing esports ecosystem.”
Esports Insider says: Investment into esports is a key part of its growth; it’s good to see investment outside of the west, especially when the funding is from a western-based investor. Japan is a massive market for esports and has always been quick to embrace new and exciting developments in the tech world.