Philadelphia 76ers Acquire/Merge Team Dignitas & Apex
In a move that has made them the first North American professional sports franchise to officially own an esports team, the Philadelphia 76ers has announced the acquisition of both Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming on undisclosed terms. In addition to the purchase, which was overseen by WME|IMG’s Tobias Sherman, it was revealed that Apex Gaming, who was recently promoted from the Challenger Series into the NA LCS during the 2016 Summer Promotion tournament, will be assimilated into Team Dignitas and will continue to operate under their name.
“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,” said Josh Harris, Managing General Partner of the Philadelphia 76ers, “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.”
Co-Managing Partner David Blitzer went on to say in a statement of his own that the addition of esports to their organization will not only help create a brighter future for competitive gaming, but will also allow the Philadelphia 76ers to grow as a brand.
While this is the first North American team to take the plunge into esports, the 76ers are by no means the first figures in traditional sports to display an interest in the scene. Manchester United was reported to have been in a bidding war against Fnatic for an Overwatch team back in June, after Rick Fox made waves within the community by forming Echo Fox and signing their first League of Legends lineup. Shaquille O’Neal, who previously supported esports and affirmed its legitimacy as a sport on a segment of Inside the NBA, and New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez invested in NRG eSports alongside Chicago White Sox’s Jimmy Rollins soon after. FC Shalke 04, among other teams, have also purchased League of Legends teams.
On the note of operations, the press release stated that Michael O’Dell, Team Dignitas Managing Director, will continue his career within the organization as President. Michael Slan, who formerly co-owned Apex Gaming, will act as Vice President and General Manager while Greg Richardson has taken the position of Chairman. The Philadelphia 76ers’ involvement in the organization will mostly managing the brand’s day-to-day operations, including sponsorships and publicity among other responsibilities. They also plan to devote themselves to maintaining and promoting player development and wellness, as well as contributing resources towards player recruitment.
Michael O’Dell exuded confidence in the acquisition in his statement, claiming that their partnering with the 76ers will give the organization, “An undeniable advantage in attracting the world’s best players and opportunity to compete at the highest level.” He also said that the partnership will launch Team Dignitas into what he described as, “The next phase of our development.,” but did not elaborate on what development he was referring to.