One more non-endemic investor has dipped its toes into eSports. Lionsgate, a well-known entertainment & media company, invested into Immortals, one of the most liked VC eSports teams, Immortals. Headed by Noah Whinston, Immortals has great teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, and CS:GO, while also competing in Super Smash Brothers.
Lionsgate joins a big pool of investors already supporting Immortals, like Michael Milken, the co-owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, Steve Kaplan, and others. "Lionsgate joins a dream team of media, tech and traditional sports partners who share our vision of building a dynamic Immortals organization and a strong e-sports foundation," said Immortals Chairman and CrossCut Ventures Managing Director Clinton Foy. "What we're doing today in eSports is like the early days of building the NFL and NBA. It's not the evolution of games – it's the evolution of sports, technology and media."
The involvement of Liongate should provide Immortals a great boon. Speaking of the matter, Lionsgate President of Interactive Ventures & Games Peter Levin said:
“We're delighted to be an early mover in a market that has the potential to transform the face of sports entertainment. Our involvement in eSports creates tremendous opportunities to develop new content and utilize our suite of distribution platforms for a coveted consumer demographic with compelling engagement metrics. Collaborating with an elite group of partners, the combination of the Lionsgate and Immortals brands will be formidable."
Understandably, the people closer to actually running the org are also excited about the deal. "Lionsgate is the perfect entrepreneurial partner for our Immortals family," said Immortals CEO Noah Whinston. "Immortals and Lionsgate are both focused on developing new entertainment formats, and we're thrilled to collaborate with them at the cutting edge of eSports media."
According to the press release on Lionsgate website, “Lionsgate's investment in Immortals is the latest step in the Company's eSports initiative. Last year Pilgrim Media Group, in which Lionsgate is a majority investor, announced that it was partnering with ESL, the world's largest eSports promoter, to create original eSports entertainment content for television and digital platforms. Their first collaboration, in partnership with Microsoft, will be centered around the iconic gaming brand Halo. Lionsgate was also an early investor in live streaming mobile gaming platform Mobcrush.”
This deal seems to be following the trend of eSports entities seeking capital from non-endemic business giants to not get left behind when eSports leagues will inevitably start following the example of sports leagues like the NBA. At that time, the capital will be needed to buy the spot in these leagues. The process is going to start soon in Overwatch, following the start of Overwatch League and it’s been speculated that this is also coming to League of Legends. There are two options available to teams that don’t want to be left behind—sell controlling interest, like Team Dignitas and Team Liquid, or allow non-endemic investment, like Misfits. This is needed because if the big money corporations want to really play, no endemic eSports org is going to have the money to even think of competing in terms of budget.