A group of mostly L.A. tech investors has purchased a League of Legends e-sports team known as Team 8 for an undisclosed amount.
Team 8 competes in a professional e-sports league for Riot Game’s video game League of Legends. Despite being relatively unknown by the public at large, professional e-sports are a growing attraction. Last year’s League of Legends championship gave away $2.1 million in prize money and drew in a live audience of 40,000 people at Seoul’s World Cup Stadium.
Buying into one of the league’s top teams was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed, said Clinton Foy, a managing partner at Santa Monica venture firm CrossCut Ventures who invested in the team independently.
League of Legends is “literally the biggest game in the world and it’s larger than most professional sports right now,” he said.
The team wasn’t up for sale, but Foy said through inside connections he was able to make an offer to the owner and former professional e-sports player Eric Ma. And though Foy declined to disclose the sale price, he said valuations for e-sports teams are on the rise.
“Year-over-year the purchase price that teams are selling for has gone up dramatically, exponentially,” said Foy.
Other investors included a number of prominent local tech figures, such as Peter Levin, president of Lionsgate Interactive Ventures and Games, Machinima Chairman Allen DeBevoise, March Capital Partners Managing Director Gregory Milken and Honest Co. Chief Executive Brian Lee.
Team 8’s name will be changed to the Immortals and its players will operate out of Los Angeles. While Immortals is focused on League of Legends, Foy said the company is also looking at expanding to other video game leagues, such as Counter Strike and DOTA 2 competitions, through additional team purchases.
As part of the ownership change, Immortals has also signed sponsor Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, which makes semiconductors. The team plans to make money through additional sponsorships, broadcasting rights and e-sports ticketing sales.