Esports investment report, May 2023: Celestial, NODWIN, LDLC

Image credit: Esports Insider

Welcome to a roundup of the most important esports investment stories in May 2023.

May saw news from all corners of the world: in the MENA region, Galaxy Racer merged with RTE, and in India, an action movie star invested in Revenant Esports. Indian platform Rooter raised a financing round, and Heroic got an offer to make it private again.

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Spotlighted story

rte galaxy racer celestial
Image credit: RTE

Digital media entertainment company Riva Technology and Entertainment (RTE — formerly MSM Corporation International Limited) has announced a merger with multinational esports organisation Galaxy Racer (GXR).

The new company will be called ‘Celestial’ and is set to leverage the parties’ combined strengths and resources.  The newly formed holding company will attempt to establish a dominant media and sports conglomerate, initially focused on the MENA region and Indian sub-continent.

revenant esports tiger shroff
Image credit: Revenant Esports / Tiger Shroff

Indian esports organisation Revenant Esports has announced that Indian actor Jai Hemant Shroff (Tiger Shroff) has invested in the company.

The invested amount was not disclosed, but the organisation noted that it comes as a ‘huge boost’. Revenant Esports plans to use the funding to improve its rosters, content creators and bootcamp infrastructure.

The newest investor in Revenant, Tiger Shroff, is known for being a popular action movie star in India. Shroff is also a mixed martial artist and owns Matrix Fight Night, an MMA sports promotion company. This is his first time directly investing in an esports company.

Disguised Toast
Screenshot of Disguised Toast via his Youtube Channel. Image credit: Disguised Toast

Popular content creator Jeremy ‘Disguised Toast’ Wang has unorthodoxly revealed the 2023 budget for his own esports organisation, Disguised. The team is on track to lose $1m (~£806,000) by the end of the year.

The information was revealed via a tweet by Disguised Toast, with a table highlighting that the organisation expects to see a net operating loss of $620,000 (~£500,000) this year.

M80 seed investment round
Image credit: M80

North American esports organisation M80 has raised $3m (~£2.43m) in a seed investment round.

The funds will be used to ‘expand [M80’s] footprint across esports, content creation and consumer products’, according to a release. M80’s goal is to build the world’s first web3-enabled gaming and esports organisation.

The $3m seed round was led by ExpertDojo, VT Technology Ventures and Practical Venture Capital.

Image credit: Team LDLC

French electronics retailer LDLC has announced that its esports segment, LDLC OL (Team LDLC), will cease operations at the end of July 2023.

The owners of LDLC OL, Groupe LDLC and French football club Olympique Lyonnais, ultimately decided to end their partnership early. The organisation is leaving esports after more than a decade in the space.

The organisation only said that “the teams did not manage to carve out a sufficient positioning among the general public, despite their best efforts.” This is interesting to note, considering that LDLC was a competitively successful team in France.

nodwin gaming logo
(ESI Illustration) Image credit: NODWIN Gaming

South Asian esports company NODWIN Gaming has signed definitive and binding documentation to raise $28m (⁓£22.5m) from new and existing investors.

Most funds will be used to develop NODWIN’s gaming and esports ecosystem, including new IPs, expanding into emerging markets and making strategic acquisitions.

Existing investors of NODWIN Gaming, such as Nazara, KRAFTON and JetSynthesys, will be joined by new investors in this funding round, as stated in the statutory filing. The newly-found investment has resulted in a marginal increase of slightly over 5% in NODWIN’s equity.

Image credit: Rooter

Indian esports and gaming content platform Rooter has announced a new round of financing today, valued at $16m (£12.9m) and led by venture capital company Lightbox.

The finance round is a mix of debt and equity financing and will be used to scale the company and help its technology capabilities.

Rooter is one of the most popular streaming and gaming platforms in India, with the company’s aim being to create a platform similar to Twitch but for mobile games. The new financing round saw existing investors, like Goal Ventures and Duane Park Ventures, be joined by seven new investors, including Trifecta Capital, Pivot Ventures, and others.

Eu Commission flags unsplash Guillaume Périgois
Image via: Unsplash / Guillaume Périgois

The European Commission has approved Microsoft’pending $68.7bn (~£50.5bn) acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard.

The commission said commitments by Microsoft had fully addressed its initial concerns, raising the gaming giants’ hopes that the deal may still go through. The Commision originally found that Microsoft could harm competition in the distribution of video games, cloud gaming and PC operating systems. However, the body said an in-depth market investigation found that Microsoft would largely not hurt competition — as long as certain remedies were implemented.

These remedies include 10-year commitments to let both consumers and cloud streaming service providers in the European Economic Area (EEA) stream Activision Blizzard games via any cloud gaming service.

Heroic CSGO
(ESI Illustration) Image credit: Adela Sznajder/ ESL Gaming; Heroic

Publicly-traded Norwegian esports organisation Heroic Group announced it has received a cash offer from Krow Bidco AS to acquire all outstanding shares in the company.

Krow Bidco AS has offered to buy the shares at NOK 2.0 (~£0.15) per share, which Heroic’s Board of Directors has unanimously recommended that shareholders accept.

Based on a NOK 2.0 share price, the deal would currently see all of Heroic Group’s shares sold for NOK 55.9m (~£4.2m; $5.26m). The share acquisition deal will go ahead if Krow Bidco enters into share purchase agreements to acquire 75% of all outstanding shares in the company.

Ivan Šimić
Ivan comes from Croatia, loves weird simulator games, and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about tech and esports in Croatia, and is now doing it here.