The 76ers-owned esports organization Dignitas has merged with Rockets-owned Clutch Gaming. It is believed to be the first merger of two NBA-owned esports franchises. Precise terms are not being released, but Dignitas CEO Michael Prindiville told THE DAILY that Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the 76ers and Devils, will be the majority partner. Clutch will keep a minority stake, but it will be a significant one. Prindiville has been putting the deal together since late February. He said that it is a win-win for both sides. Dignitas will get access to Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship Series, while Clutch becomes aligned with a more resourced, pedigreed and diverse esports organization in Dignitas. Clutch will remain under that banner for the rest of the ’19 season before rebranding under the Dignitas banner for ’20. Prindiville said there will be plenty of synergies from the merger, including the ability to share data, activate and cross promote in two different NBA venues, as well as on two teams' digital platforms. The merger also will allow for growth internationally. Prindiville, who joined Dignitas from NBC Sports in May '18, said the organization is also in talks about buying franchises in other esports leagues. He added of Dignitas getting into the LCS, “We’re big believers in the franchise business so that brings League of Legends and Overwatch to the forefront and, for our money, League of Legends is the most popular esport in the world and the LCS is the NBA of esports" (Adam Stern, THE DAILY).
ESPORTS RISING: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Eben Novy-Wiliams noted the deal values Clutch Gaming at over $30M. The Rockets "originally committed to paying" $13M for the franchise in '17. The sale, which includes "both the slot and the entire Clutch Gaming organization, highlights the growth in League of Legends' franchise values in the past two years" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/6).
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