Tuesday 16th October 2018


Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala Invest in League of Legends Esports Team

Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala Invest in League of Legends Esports Team

Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala Invest in League of Legends Esports Team
Golden State Warriors players Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala chat during a timeout against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2018 NBA Finals. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Two NBA players known for their tech savvy are diving into the world of esports.

Swift, the parent company of a popular North America League of Legends team called Team SoloMid, has raised $37 million from a group of investors that includes Golden State Warriors players Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala, according to Forbes.

The Series A round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and also included an investment from NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young and Twitch Chief Strategy Officer Colin Carrier.

The vast majority of the money ($20 million) will go toward the construction of a new 15,000-to-20,000-square-foot esports facility in Los Angeles, according to Forbes. That location will serve as a training place for Swift‘s growing suite of esports teams, and as a studio to produce multimedia content. The remaining funds will power gaming investments and acquisitions, and support franchising fees.

The investment round comes less than a year after developer Riot Games announced that it would franchise the North American League of Legends Championship Series. Team SoloMid is among the 10 teams playing in that series’ inaugural season, but it’s far from the only team with traditional sports backing.

Several of the other teams are either directly owned by professional sports teams (most of which are in the NBA) or have received investments from former or current pro athletes. The Warriors have their own North American League of Legends team called the Golden Guardians. Other teams include Madison Square Garden’s Counter Logic Gaming, the New York Yankees-invested Echo Fox, and FlyQuest, headed by Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens.

The league had an expensive buy-in of $10 million a team in the form of a franchise-fee payment to game developer Riot. While Team SoloMid, through Swift, was able to cover that initial payment, this funding round will give Swift the financial flexibility to expand its esports prowess and invest back in the athletes and fans that power the success of the organization.

SportTechie Takeaway

Curry and Iguodala have become tech influencers not only among athletes in the NBA but across the whole of professional sports. Last summer, the two teammates hosted an inaugural Players Technology Summit, which brought athletes, investors and founders in sports technology together. Both athletes already have a portfolio of tech companies, so joining the esports fray by investing in a league that’s already dominated by major NBA stakeholders makes sense.

The Warriors are all over esports. Warriors’ owner Peter Guber has an investment in the North American League of Legends team, Team Liquid, which competes with both the Golden Guardians and Team SoloMid. The NBA franchise also owns an NBA 2K League team called the Warriors Gaming Squad.

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