Controversial deals with NEOM, Vindex acquires Belong | ESI Digest #3

Each week, ESI Digest breaks down the weekly happenings in the esports industry, making sense of things so you don’t have to. As well as being housed on YouTube, ESI Digest is available on all major podcast platforms and is also available in written form below.

This week on ESI Digest, we cover controversial deals with NEOM, Vindex’s monumental acquisition of Belong, FaZe Clan’s deal with Verizon, and Mitch Marner investing in OverActive Media.

Vindex acquires GAME’s Belong Gaming Arenas

Esports infrastructure company Vindex acquired GAME’s Belong gaming arena division and has lofty plans for the brand. Vindex intends to invest $300 million in Belong over the next five years, opening over 500 esports venues in the United States and a further 1,000 in other countries, with a focus on Europe.

The company has partnered with Envy Gaming and Andbox to open such centres in North Texas and New York City, respectively. It has also named Martyn Gibbs as CEO of Belong, Adam Apicella as its Chief Experience Officer, and Rahul Jaiswal as its Finance Director.

Controversial partnerships with Saudi Arabian project, NEOM

Copenhagen-based tournament organiser BLAST announced a deal with NEOM to turn it into the region’s esports hub on July 28th, and Riot Games formed an alliance with the project just a day later for its European league, LEC.

On July 30th, the LEC announced the termination of the deal due to internal backlash from broadcast talent and staff, as well as public backlash from fans and industry figures. At the time of writing, BLAST’s deal with NEOM remains.

FaZe Clan dials up partnership with Verizon

North American organisation FaZe Clan welcomed telecommunications company Verizon as its exclusive 5G partner.

The agreement provides Verizon team exclusivity for both professional players and content creators across the FaZe Clan organisation.

Mitch Marner joins OverActive Media ownership group

Professional Ice Hockey player Mitch Marner joined the ownership group of Canadian organisation OverActive Media.

According to a press release detailing the announcement, Mitch will, “become the latest ambassador and an important part of OverActive’s brand building efforts.”

ESI Digest is part of ESI Network, a collection of podcasts encompassing the esports industry. For deep dives into the major areas of esports with subject matter experts, check out ESI Focus. For conversations with key personnel and major stakeholders in esports, ESI Insight is the series for you.