If you’re a Philadelphia Sixers fan, it looks like your luck might be turning, but not with anything basketball related. The NBA’s Philadelphia announced today that they’ll be purchasing controlling interests in two Esports teams. According to Gamespot, the professional basketball team purchased Esports squads Team Dignitas and Team Apex from their previous owners, Michael O’Dell and David Slan.
The buyout will combine the two teams into one, which they named Team Dgnitas. Below is their new logo:
This marks the first time ever that a North American professional franchise has acquired an Esports team, which also happens to be the world’s fastest growing professional sport in the world. The Sixers, in a news release, have stated that
The combined organizations will create a powerhouse competitor in the booming business of Esports; bringing under one roof Team Apex’s wildly popular League of Legends team with other standout games including Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite … the group will utilize their business expertise and vast resources to bring infrastructure and alignment to position these Esports teams for future growth.
As a professional basketball organization apart of a multi-billion dollar business, the Sixers can bring much to the table for the Esports teams they’re buying: knowledge about sales, branding, publicity, and merchandising. According to their news release, they also plan to devote their resources to player recruitment, development, and wellness.
Former owners, O’Dell, will run the team operations as the president, while former Apex owner Michael Slan will serve as the team’s Vice President and General Manager. Greg Richardson, executive chairman of mobile gaming company Rumble, will be Team Dignitas’s chairman.
Sixers’ general manager Josh Harris clarified many questioning why an NBA team wanted to get involved with Esports in the first place:
We are thrilled to become an owner of such a storied franchise as Team Dignitas. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources, and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games. We see our entrance into Esports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in Esports as a whole.
CEO of the Philadelphia Sixer, Scott O’Neil, has stated that he’s optimistic about the acquisition, saying that “the attractiveness of this deal is as much about the people as it is the opportunity”.
This marks the first time a professional North American team buys any Esports team, but there have been former professional NBA players who have bought teams before. Former Laker player and NBA legend, Shaquille O’Neal invested in the NRG Esports team earlier this year, and his former Laker teammate, Rick Fox, also bought team Echo Fox in December 2015. For those apart of Team Dignitas, let’s hope that the Sixers can run Esports a bit more successfully then basketball.