Esports investment report, April 2024: Drone Racing League, Simon Kjær and Beyond Gaming

Esports Insider’s monthly roundup of the most important esports investment stories is back with another edition!

April 2024 sadly saw two shutdowns: esports organisation Beyond Gaming and esports bar chain Platform are no longer active as of last month. In addition, Rogue owner Infinite Reality acquired the Drone Racing League.

Here is a recap of the most important esports investment stories from last past month.

To learn more about esports investments, make sure to subscribe to ESI’s Angels & Unicorns newsletter — a monthly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of esports investments, mergers, and acquisitions. 

Spotlighted story

drone racing league x infinite reality
Image credit: Drone Racing League / Infinite Reality

Esports and metaverse company Infinite Reality, the owners of esports organisation Rogue, has announced the acquisition of the Drone Racing League for $250m (~£201.2m).

The acquisition will see the Drone Racing League enter Infinite Reality’s portfolio which includes esports company ReKT Global, talent management firm TalentX Entertainment and broadcasting company iR Studios (formerly Thunder Studios). The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024.

The acquisition will allow Infinite Reality access to an array of technologies the DRL uses regularly to create high-tech broadcasts for its races. According to a release, the deal takes Infinite Reality’s valuation to $3.5bn (~£2.82bn).

The companies noted that DRL CEO and Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski will be promoted to Infinite Reality’s Global President, with DRL President Rachel Jacobson appointed President of Global Business Ventures and Partnerships.

beyond gaming shuts down
Image credit: Beyond Gaming

Taiwanese esports organisation Beyond Gaming has shut down and exited the Pacific Championship Series (PCS), League of Legends’ Asia-Pacific competition.

The news was shared by PCS’ social media platforms and Beyond Gaming’s channels, with the latter highlighting a lack of funding and increased costs as the main reasons for the closure.

The team’s owner, Xue ‘DinTer’ Hong-wei, noted that Beyond Gaming had difficulties finding sponsors and struggled to meet the growing costs of operation, which in turn took a toll on the mental health of Hong-wei.

The statement went on to describe the various health issues Hong-wei faced, and that he has become incapable of continuing to operate Beyond Gaming due to his deteriorating health.

Simon Kjaer AC Milan Footballer
Image credit: Raffaele Conti 88, Shutterstock

AC Milan and Danish international footballer Simon Kjær has announced his own esports organisation called WOPA Esport.

The Danish esports organisation will enter Counter-Strike 2 after signing four players from CEPTER BITSKINS. Originally known as Alpha Gaming, CEPTER BITSKINS revealed on social media that it will ‘transition to WOPA Esports’.

Kjær will be joined by Martin Rosenbæk, the Founder of esports news site HLTV, who has been named co-owner. HLTV has disclosed that 10% of WOPA is owned by Rosenbæk’s family-held company Rosenbæk & Sønner, as well as 1% by Rosenbæk personally. Nicolai Orbe has also been named as the organisation’s Director.

Platform esports and gaming bar
Image credit: Platform

UK-based gaming and esports bar chain Platform has closed its doors permanently.

Platform ran two London-based bars in Shoreditch and Canary Wharf, the latter of which only opened last year. Since the company’s formation in 2018, Platform has held a variety of local esports-focused community events. This includes the likes of watch parties and hosted social events, such as Esports Insider’s Hall of Fame in 2022. Last year, the chain also secured a partnership with AGON by AOC.

Platform’s closure follows another gaming-focused venue, Liverpool’s LevelTap, also closing its doors earlier this month despite only being in operation for less than a year. On the venue’s Instagram, LevelTap noted that “current market conditions have made it increasingly challenging for independent startups like ours to grow at an affordable rate.”

VCT Team Capsules
Image credit: Riot Games

Game publisher Riot Games has revealed that esports organisations Sentinels and Paper Rex were the most popular VCT Capsules in March for their respective international leagues. 

North American organisation Sentinels topped the VCT Americas list, which included the likes of G2 Esports and Argentine team Leviatán, while Paper Rex sold the most capsules for VCT Pacific. 

Exact details, such as how much both organisations specifically sold, have not been revealed. Moreover, the social media announcements follow on from Fnatic being named the most popular VCT EMEA capsule

Image credit: Call of Duty League

The Call of Duty League has announced major structural changes that will affect team revenues, their outstanding entry fees, and hosting events.

The biggest update sees the Call of Duty League eliminate all outstanding entry fees that franchises owe. Moreover, any fees that were previously collected from teams will be returned in full.

Earlier this year League of Legends announced a similar change to its esports ecosystem, with its franchise revenue model shifting more towards sharing in-game microtransactions

Image of TalkEsport logo and company founder on grey background
Image credit TalkEsport

Indian esports media platform TalkEsport has raised $1m (~£800,250) in a Pre-Series A funding round, the company announced on the last day of April.

The funding round, led by Saswat Ventures, will be used to facilitate TalkEsport’s growth as it looks to consolidate its position as one of the region’s largest media platforms in the esports sector.

Founded in 2011, TalkEsport is one of India’s largest esports outlets and provides coverage across a number of tournaments taking place across the country and the surrounding region. The country’s esports sector continues to grow at an impressive rate. In April 2024, industry stakeholders met with the Prime Minister to discuss industry developments.

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.