Esports is a fertile pasture for investment, at least if that actions of Nordic firm Diglife is any indication.
The company, involved with pushing the Gunnar Optiks brand in Europe, invested in Ninjas in Pyjamas in February, helping the organization build on their esports success. Now the company plans to do the same with what they call the “last leading Nordic e-sports organization,” Copenhagen Wolves.
“We are excited about continuing our successful growth within the electronic sports industry,” Diglife founder Hicham Chahine said.
“The journey with NIP has brought an amazing team together. With our team, network and vast experience we are looking forward to funding and taking Copenhagen Wolves to the next level.”
“Today we take, what is probably the most significant step forward in the history of the Copenhagen Wolves, as we are proud to welcome Diglife to our family,” Jakob Lund Kristensen, the CEO of Copenhagen Wolves, said.
“We are on the cusp of claiming our spot among the global powerhouses of electronic sports and with the expertise, network and business knowledge that Diglife brings to the table, we are excited to take that final step together.”
The move raises questions about potential conflicts of interest, with one company owning major stakes in two competing esports teams. Both Wolves and Ninjas in Pyjamas host world-class Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squads, and have at times faced each other in League of Legends. The two have had a close relationship in the past as two Scandinavian esports teams. In May 2013, the Copenhagen Wolves League of Legends lineup, featuring Danish stars Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen joined Ninjas in Pyamas.
But now the two organizations will compete against each other despite partially shared ownership. The announcement states that GoodGame, the agency recently purchased by Twitch that owns the Evil Geniuses and Alliance brands, has paved the way for them, calling the Twitch acquisition a “large step towards allowing investors owning multiple gaming organizations competing within the same game titles globally.”
Of course, that statement seems a bit ironic in light of Riot Games’ recent introduction of the Sale of Sponsorships rule, the first regulation implemented by an esports governing body to prevent exactly the relationship DigLife just entered into.
Riot instituted the new rule specifically with DigLife’s test case in mind—GoodGame’s ownership of the Alliance and Evil Geniuses brands. GoodGame either had to divest ownership in one brand, or act entirely as an agency and give up branding on both teams altogether, the option they chose.
This deal likely precludes the return of a Ninjas in Pyjamas League of Legends squad due to the Riot rule, though if the company doesn’t hold a controlling interest in either esports team, there may be a little wiggle room.
Either way, it’s probably okay for Diglife and their teams. Ninjas in Pyjamas might not have plans to return to League, a game where they’ve managed little traction despite putting together numerous lineups with massive talent. It may be best to let the dream die, and Ninjas in Pyjamas League curse with it.
DigLife still has a team in the LCS with Copenhagen Wolves and the best Counter-Strike team on the planet in Ninjas in Pyjamas. Plus, esports titles outside of Riot Games’ purview have no such restrictions—Alliance and Evil Geniuses are happily competing against each other in Dota 2 events every week.
Whether that’s something that should change is another matter, and one that will likely be discussed more and more in the coming years and months. Especially if Diglife’s vote of confidence in esports bears fruit.