The relationship between esports organisations and online influencers has grown increasingly symbiotic.
Most, if not all, large teams in esports now boast rosters of streamers to boost brand engagement, ignite sponsor activations and generate excitement around their competitive rosters. For streamers, buying into an esports organisation provides a built-in fan club and creates opportunities to build their own brand further.
But as the industry continues to explode in popularity, a new wave of savvy creators are using their considerable online, and financial, clout to build their own teams. Popular streamer DisguisedToast recently joined the crowd, with his own small team in NA VALORANT Challengers which notably competes with a logo drawn in MS Paint and no other fancy branding.
From building their own squads from scratch to taking stakes in established powerhouses, this is Esports Insider’s list of influencers that have become owners or investors in esports organisations.
Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag – 100 Thieves
It would be impossible to create a list of influencer-owned esports organisations without mentioning 100 Thieves.
The Los Angeles-based team was founded by former professional Call of Duty player Nadeshot in 2017 as a competitor in the League of Legends LCS. Now known as a merchandise and sponsorship powerhouse, the team fields franchised teams in VALORANT, the LCS and has a Los Angeles franchise in the Call of Duty League, aptly named the Los Angeles Thieves.
Ludwig Ahgren and Charlie ‘MoistCr1TiKaL’ White – Moist Esports
Founded in 2021, Moist Esports has players competing in a litany of fighting games. It also boasts a 2021 Championship-winning Rocket League team. Fellow streamer Ludwig Ahgren joined the team as a co-owner at the beginning of 2023, heralding the acquisition of a VALORANT team that currently competes in the NA Challengers League under the name ‘Moist Moguls’.
Cr1TiKaL has also injected a strong sense of responsibility into the team, who rejected an invite to Saudi Arabian tournament Gamers8 in 2022 over human rights concerns.
Jorge ‘Goorgo’ Orejudo – Team Heretics
Founded by Spanish streamer Goorgo in 2016, Heretics is the second Spanish team to enter the LEC in 2023, following the purchase of Misfits Gaming’s franchise spot. Goorgo got his start playing Call of Duty, but now posts lifestyle content alongside reaction and challenge videos.
Alongside League of Legends, Team Heretics also has competitive rosters in VALORANT, Rocket League, FIFA and Fortnite. The organisation was also founded by Antonio Catena and Arnau Vidal.
Ibai Llanos – KOI Esports
Former LVP caster Ibai Llanos started Spanish team KOI in 2021 alongside former FC Barcelona player Gerard Piqué. Despite its relative lack of pedigree, the organisation was able to collaborate with existing LEC partner Rogue to compete in the EU League of Legends league this year as one of two new teams
They have a partnered VCT team competing in the EMEA region and even fused with a physical motorsport team at the start of May.
Nicholas ‘Nickmercs’ Kolcheff (and others) – FaZe Clan
FaZe Clan is the original influencer gaming organisation, founded in 2010 by trickshot YouTubers Eric “CLipZ” Rivera, Jeff “House Cat” Emann (now known as “Timid”) and Ben “Resistance” Christensen. Since branching out to esports in 2012, the team has taken on a vast array of creators but signed Nickmercs as a player, then a co-owner in 2019 following an alleged dispute over promised equity in 100 Thieves. The team currently competes in VALORANT, PUBG, CS:GO, and FIFA.
Álvaro ’Alvaro845’ Gonzalez – Team Queso
The Spanish team was founded by Clash Royale instructional YouTuber Alvaro845 in 2017. Despite being a primarily mobile-focused organisation, Team Queso has since branched out in PC titles, with small rosters in CS:GO and Rainbow Six: Siege. Unsurprisingly, the team saw its best days with Clash Royale, winning numerous world championships in 2019 and 2020.
Bruno ‘PlayHard’ Oliveira – LOUD
Known universally by esports PR enthusiasts as the team that consistently gets the most buzz on social media, Brazilian team LOUD arrived in 2019 and is the brainchild of GTA roleplayer and YouTuber PlayHard. The team is known for its content-first strategy, but nonetheless has acquired numerous championship trophies in VALORANT, League of Legends and popular Brazilian title Free Fire.
Bruno ‘Nobru’ Goes and Lucio ‘Cerol’ dos Santos – Fluxo
There are numerous esports organisations owned by Brazilian influencers, so here’s just one more. Fluxo was founded in 2019 by Free Fire world champion Nobru and streamer Cerol who posts variety gaming content alongside Free Fire videos. Combined, they have 21m subscribers on YouTube. Fluxo fields rosters in CS:GO, League of Legends, and Arena of Valor too but Free Fire remains its most successful enterprise.
Kamel ‘Kameto’ Kebir and Zouhair ‘Kotei’ Darji – Karmine Corp
French team Karmine Corp was founded by two French variety streamers. Otherwise known as ‘K Corp’, the organisation is headquartered in France and has historically competed in League of Legends’ French competition, the LFL.
Alongside the organisation’s notable online social media fanbase, K Corp drew headlines and raised eyebrows when it signed former Fnatic and G2 Esports player Rekkles in 2021. Karmine Corp has since joined the EMEA VCT as a partner team.
Vikram ‘Vikkstar’ Singh Barn – London Royal Ravens
Sidemen sideman and gaming personality Vikkstar first became involved as a co-owner of London Royal Ravens in 2020. Originally scouted by the CDL team’s parent company, his own success at CoD warzone has also led to the star hosting a variety of tournaments for fans and personalities in the game through the brand.
Corentin ‘Gotaga’ Houssein – Gentle Mates
As the freshest-faced entry on this list, Gentle Mates was founded in 2023 by former French Call of Duty pro and Vitality-rostered streamer Gotaga alongside two other French streamers. The team competes in VALORANT and Fortnite, and has already garnered a fairly large social media following.
Other notable esports owners:
- Tryke Gutierrez – Blacklist International
- Patrick ‘Chief Pat’ Carney – Tribe Gaming
- Jeremy ‘Disguised Toast’ Wang – DSG
- Maximilian ‘HandofBlood’ Knabe – Eintracht Spandau
- Naman ‘Mortal’ Mathur and Animesh ‘8Bit Thug’ Agarwal – S8ul Esports