The Philadelphia 76ers have made their mark on the eSports industry. The team have acquired two eSports teams and hope to have more success on stage than their recent on-court performances.
The 76ers are the first professional team to own an eSports team. The 76ers have bought two teams, Dignitas and Team Apex. They then merged the teams under the Dignitas name. The price of the purchase has not yet been disclosed. Dignitas will now compete across five popular games, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Overwatch. With the merger complete Dignitas now employ 50 people including 30 professional gamers across the different teams.
Although The 76ers are the first team to buy an eSports team, teams and organisations have been bought previously by NBA and NFL players. Jonas Jerebko, the Boston Celtics forward, purchased the eSports team Renegades. Renegades will also resume competing in the League of Legends Challenger Series. In December 2015, NBA’s Rick Fox bought the eSports team Gravity Gaming, he then re-branded the team as Echo Fox.
“The sixers will now direct money and other resources to grow Dignitas as a competitive team and business within the world of eSports” said O’Neil, Chief Executive Officer for the Philadelphia 76ers. He then added, “It’s incumbent upon us to figure out where the real growth opportunities out there are”. “And in every corner and conversation, eSports teams to pop up”. The 76ers’ interest in eSports began at a NBA Board of Governors meeting last year. O’Neil, along with co-owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer were present. O’Neil said he was aware the eSports industry was growing but didn’t know by exactly how much. The group were then presented with the “Staggering” numbers of growth.
The 76ers will be providing direct support to Dignitas including people from their existing departments, such as sales and sponsorship, content, social media, and health and fitness.