When ESL founder Jens Hilgers presented his esports investment vehicle, BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, last month, the esports veteran and his investor group promised to add four more startups to their portfolio in 2017. It already has its first: Tier One Entertainment, a gaming and esports talent agency recently launched by Philippine cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao and Dota 2 shoutcaster Tryke Gutierrez.
Tier One Entertainment wants to create some buzz around the esports landscape in Southeast Asia by developing talented shoutcasters, streamers, and professional teams in the region. The investment is set to be used to purchase equipment for production, expand the agency’s team, and build a studio for talents.
“We are fortunate that BITKRAFT has shown faith in the region,” Gutierrez said. “We have always believed that Southeast Asia has what it takes to take off in the international arena. With BITKRAFT on our side, the investment will fast track our plans.”
Gosiengfiao added: “There are still limited opportunities in the esports and gaming world, particularly in the Philippines. With BITKRAFT’s investment, we now have the power to create real careers in the esports industry by investing in talented people and supporting their growth.”
BITKRAFT raised €18 million ($19.6m) in its first closing, targeting a final close of €30 million ($32.69m). The fund wants to invest between €100,000 ($108,950) and €400,000 ($435,820) in each startup.
Currently, its portfolio consists of 12 companies, including training platform DOJO Madness, business news portal The Esports Observer, and esports agency Level99, co-founders of the OG Dota 2 team. BITKRAFT also invested in Boom.tv, a 3D livestreaming platform founded by Sumit Gupta, who is one of the fund’s partners.
Casting an eye on the Southeast Asian market makes a lot of sense from an investment perspective. The region boasts the fastest growing esports audience, according to a Newzoo report from December 2016. The study estimated 9.5 million esports enthusiasts in the region last year, a number that’s projected to double until 2019.