Photo by: Riot Games
The owner of NBA franchise Philadelphia 76ers and esports org Dignitas, entertainment company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, has agreed to acquire a majority stake in LCS franchise Clutch Gaming, ESPN reports indicate. The investment is worth $20 million and will also include rebranding Clutch Gaming to Dignitas.
The Houston Rockets, the current owner of Clutch Gaming, will get the following out of the deal:
- $12.5M in cash over multiple payments
- 31.8 percent equity share in the new Dignitas franchise
- $7.5M to fund the team’s operations for 2019-2021
- $1.5M to go towards Rockets’ outstanding debt to Riot Games, acquired with the purchase of the NA LCS franchise slot
This is the first instance that a franchise sells its majority share, but ESPN indicate it might not be the last, as OpTic Gaming, majority-owned by Infinite Esports & Entertainment, and Echo Fox are reportedly also looking to do the same.
The Rockets/Harris Blitzer deal will also see the return of Dignitas as an NA LCS team. Dignitas was one of the founding brands in the first NA LCS back in 2013 and stayed in the league until 2017, when their application for the 2018 franchised season was denied.
“The history with League of Legends and Dignitas is definitely substantial and for me, it’s really connected to the North American League of Legends Championship Series first and foremost,” commented Dignitas CEO Michael Prindiville. “That’s going to be our focus, that’s the story that’s been written and the narrative we want to tell going forward of, ‘how do we get back there?’ It’s aspirational but I think we can do it.”
As a franchise, Clutch Gaming have had mixed success in the NA LCS so far. Their best record was a fourth-place finish in 2018 Spring Playoffs but they’ve remained a bottom-table team since, finishing ninth in both 2018 Summer and 2019 Spring.