The Philadelphia 76ers are the first NBA franchise to own an eSports team. On Monday the 76ers announced the acquisition of eSports teams Dignitas and Apex.
The organization will merge the two teams. Darren Rovell of ESPN.com reports the deal could potentially be worth double digit millions. The newly merged squad will compete in League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.
“The eSports industry is primed for incredible growth and we are thrilled to become an owner of such a storied franchise as Team Dignitas. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games. We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole,” said Philadelphia 76ers Managing General Partner Josh Harris.
The NBA world has actively embraced eSports before the acquisition. Last week, Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin helped create a Dota 2 team called VGJ sports and signed an exclusive endorsement deal with China Digital Group. Meanwhile, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko purchased CS:GO franchise Team Renegades this offseason, Gordon Hayward is endorsed by Hyper X and Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, who compete in multiple pro competitions.
The 76ers acquisition is the next step towards an increased partnership between the NBA and eSports. Considering it’s a massive, growing industry, I’m inclined to believe more NBA teams will follow suit and invest in competitive eSports.