Running a top-flight esports organisation is an expensive business. Player salaries in esports can be extremely high, as are the costs of staff, travel, bootcamping, and the general running costs of an international business.
In the last few years, a handful of major esports organisations have decided to go public, opting to list themselves on stock exchanges in an effort to raise the capital needed to continue operating on the world stage.
In October 2018, Enthusiast Gaming became the first publicly traded company to own an esports team. In subsequent years, a handful of other esports organisations followed suit, capitalising on the investment hype around esports in the latter half of the 2010’s and raising significant money, and sky-high valuations, in the process.
However, most of these companies have since seen their stock prices nosedive in recent years as the esports investment hype has died down significantly, and investors have moved away from loss-making companies amid an economic downturn.
There are a total of 12 publicly listed companies that own esports teams — consisting of both esports organisations that have gone public, and holding companies that have acquired teams. We have listed all of them in order below based on the date of the company’s listing (or the acquisition date of its esports team asset).
Enthusiast Gaming is a Canadian holding company founded in 2014 that primarily owned video game news sites. In October 2018, Enthusiast Gaming joined the Toronto Stock Exchange, and as of April 2021 it is also listed on the NASDAQ.
Enthusiast Gaming has been involved in Activision Blizzard’s franchised leagues since 2018. The company co-owns Call of Duty League franchise Seattle Surge alongside the Aquilini Investment Group, and operates Overwatch League franchise Vancouver titans. Enthusiast Gaming also owns Luminosity Gaming, which it merged with in September 2019. The company’s shares were worth CAD$0.66 (~£0.39) at the time of writing.
Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company
Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company is an operator and franchisor of gaming centres in North America, as well as — since January 2019 — the owner of esports organisation Simplicity Esports. However, the Simplicity Esports team has no active rosters and has not been active on social media in almost a year. Simplicity also previously owned a team in Brazil, Flamengo Esports, but sold that asset to Los Grandes in June 2022.
Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company is currently listed on the OTCQB exchange, an over-the-counter exchange for US stocks. The company rebranded from SMAAASH Entertainment to its current name when it acquired Simplicity in January 2019. At the time of publication, Simplicity’s stock price is currently $0.0076 (~£0.0061), with 23m shares publicly floated.
Astralis is a storied Danish esports organisation. Best known for its accolades within CS:GO, the organisation also owns a slot in the LEC, League of Legends’ European franchised league.
Astralis was the first team to go public via an initial public offering (IPO), and remains one of the highest-profile publicly-listed teams. Astralis A/S shares have been traded on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (NASDAQ Copenhagen) since its IPO in December 2019.
In March 2023, Astralis announced it had initiated a ‘strategic review’ due to its enduringly low stock price — despite reporting increased revenue and decreased loss in its 2022 financial report — and was exploring delisting the company, amongst other potential directions. Astralis’ shares were worth DKK 1.76 (~£0.21) at time of publication.
Founded by former Canadian football pro Konrad Wasiela, ESE Entertainment offers technology, infrastructure, and fan engagement services, as well as operating ecommerce channels, gaming leagues — and an esports team.
ESE Entertainment acquired Portuguese esports organisation K1CK in November 2020, just a few months after its public listing on Toronto, Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) in August 2020. ESE’s stock price presently sits at CAD$0.21 (~£0.13).
Guild Esports is a British esports organisation co-owned by ex-footballer star David Beckam. It fields rosters in CS:GO, Rocket League, VALORANT (female), FIFA and Fortnite.
Guild went public on the London Stock Exchange in October 2020. However — despite high-profile sponsorships with the likes of Subway, Coca-Cola and Samsung — Guild Esports’ financial position remains highly fraught and it may not have the funds necessary to continue operating. At the time of writing, Guild stock is trading at £0.0069 per share, with approximately 518.62m shares in issue.
Heroic is a Norwegian esports organisation, best known for its leading Danish CS:GO roster. It also has a Rainbow 6: Siege and sim racing team.
Heroic Group went public via an IPO in February 2021 on the N-OTC (Norwegian over-the-counter) market. However, its stock price has tumbled dramatically from its initial high of about NOK 19 (~£1.40).
Amid continued financial woes and substantial doubt over its ability to continue operating, in May 2023 Heroic received a cash offer to buy all its outstanding shares in a NOK 55.9m (~£4.2m; $5.26m) deal to take it private. The deal is scheduled to complete by June if approved by shareholders. Heroic’s stock traded at 0.5 Norwegian Kroner (~£0.037) at the time of writing.
Semper Fortis Esports
Semper Fortis Esports is a holding company that operates an esports team, Semper Esports, and previously operated a Web3 gaming guild. Semper Esports previously competed in Rocket League, however its roster has since disbanded.
Nonetheless, Semper Fortis Esports is still listed on the Aquis Stock Exchange (AQSE), a UK-based stock market, following an IPO in April 2021 that raised £2.55m. From a high of almost 4p (Great British Pence), its stock price currently sits at 0.16p at the time of writing, with 500m tradable securities.
GameSquare is a Canadian holding company with a comprehensive portfolio that spans influencer management, content creation, agency work and esports, amongst others. GameSquare notably bought North American esports organisation Complexity in June 2021 in an all-stock deal worth $27m (~£19.5m). GameSquare also acquired esports organisation Reciprocity in March 2021, though Reciprocity appears to be inactive. GameSquare has also said it holds a minority stake in Mexican esports team Rainbow 7 (Movistar R7).
GameSquare was initially publicly listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, but following the completion of its merger with Engine Gaming & Media in April 2023 is now listed on the NASDAQ as well as the TSX Venture Exchange. GameSquare’s share price stands at CAD$5.78 (~£3.45) at the time of writing.
OverActive Media is a Canadian holding company that owns several esports teams. It owns Overwatch League franchise Toronto Defiant, Call of Duty League franchise Toronto Ultra, as well as European esports organisation MAD Lions.
OverActive Media went public in July 2021 via a merger with Abigail Capital Corporation, a capital pool company already listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange. OverActive Media is currently listed on the TSXV. Its shares were valued at CAD$2.25 (~£1.34) when the transaction completed, but now trade at CAD$1.6 (~£0.95).
React Gaming Group
React Gaming Group is a Canada-based publicly traded holding company. It owns esports betting platform LOOT.BET, a social gaming platform, a whitelabel esports betting solution, as well as esports organisation Parabellum Esports. React Gaming Group acquired Parabellum in February 2022. However, Parabellum appears to no longer have any active rosters at the time of writing.
The company that is now React Gaming Group (previously Intema Solutions) has been publicly listed as far back as 2012, but its pivot to esports has been much more recent, largely taking place since 2021. React Gaming Group is traded on the TSXV. Its share price currently sits at CAD$0.04 (~£0.024), with 147m shares publicly floated.
FaZe Clan is a North American esports and gaming organisation and is the largest and most notable esports team to have gone public. The esports and gaming giant has a focus on content and content creators, but also fields rosters in CS:GO, VALORANT, Rocket League, Call of Duty (Atlanta FaZe), Rainbow 6 Siege, PUBG, FIFA and Fortnite.
FaZe Clan went public in July 2022 via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in turn listing it on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol FAZE. Its public listing received much public and media interest and at one point claimed a valuation of $1bn (~£800m), before eventually going public at a valuation of $725m (~£585m).
However, despite its leading presence, FaZe Clan’s financial situation is now extremely dire. FaZe reported a $53m loss in 2022 alone, has undergone several rounds of layoffs, and its stock price has dropped from a $24.69 (~£19.93) high to now $0.6 (~£0.48) the time of writing.
TGS Esports Inc.
Based in Richmond, Canada, TGS Esports Inc. is a gaming and esports marketing solutions provider. It offers full-service esports solutions, including tournament organising and a proprietary tournament platform, and in February 2023 added an esports team to its portfolio through its acquisition of Canadian organisation Lazarus Esports.
TGS Esports is listed on the Canadian TSXV. It began trading on the exchange in August 2020, though only entered the esports team business through its Lazarus purchase in February 2023. TGS’ share price is currently CAD$0.055 (£0.033).