Esports production company Esports Engine has laid off 65 employees, according to social media posts by affected workers.
Many laid off employees who spoke publicly on social media said the job losses came suddenly and they were an unforeseen shock.
Esports Engine offers whitelabel tournament production and has produced some of the biggest esports tournaments and leagues, including the Call of Duty League, Overwatch League, Apex Legends Global Series, the Fortnite World Cup and many more.
The news comes just months after Esports Engine’s parent company, Vindex, was acquired by ESL FACEIT Group in a deal that further consolidated the Group’s dominant market share in esports tournament production. ESL FACEIT Group owns ESL Gaming, FACEIT, DreamHack and Vindex.
A spokesperson for ESL FACEIT Group sent the following statement to Esports Insider: “As part of an initiative to strategically align the business with our partners’ needs, Vindex and its subsidiary Esports Engine has made a reduction in its workforce.
“While this decision was difficult, we believe the changes to the business units will allow us to better serve our publisher partners and quickly adapt to the needs of the rapidly changing global esports industry.”
Some let-go employees have taken to social media to announce their surprise and dismay at the round of layoffs. “I’m devastated, and blindsided by the lack of warning,” said Ivy O’Shaughnessy, a former Associate Program Operations Manager, revealing he was one of 65 laid off employees.
“Blindsided along with many other talented folks and am no longer a part of Esports Engine, a company I helped found and build,” said Tori Lynch, former Vice President of Production Finance, who’s worked at the company since it was founded according to her LinkedIn profile.
The news comes despite Esports Engine reportedly being in a good place financially and despite its deep-pocketed owners. In January this year, Esports Engine tweeted about the success it had seen in 2022, during which it organised 803 events accumulating 58.4m hours watched. “We’re going even bigger in 2023,” the company tweeted at the time.
Adam Apicella, a co-founder of Esports Engine who left following Vindex’s acquisition, tweeted following the layoffs that Esports Engine was “OBJECTIVELY the fastest growing, healthy company in the space,” citing the role the company’s workforce played in its success.
When ESL FACEIT Group acquired Vindex, it said in a press release that the merger would allow it to “offer an expanded breadth of solutions and capabilities.”
Earlier in July, Activision Blizzard laid off in-house esports staff and revealed it was offering teams a $6m termination fee to leave its Overwatch League. Esports Engine has been contracted to operate Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty League, and Activision Blizzard’s seeming downscaling of esports may have had a knock on effect on Esports Engine.
ESL FACEIT Group was itself bought by Saudi Arabian government-backed Savvy Games Group in January last year.
UPDATE 26/07/2023 1:55pm: This article has been updated to include a statement issued by ESL FACEIT Group following publication.