Ministry of Sport

Australia’s Biggest Esports Opportunity Hits The Open Market

The biggest esports opportunity ever announced in Australia is now open to new investors, with the stakeholders of the top performing Dire Wolves and Sydney Drop Bears teams, and the owners of the Esports High-Performance Centre (housed in the Sydney Cricket Ground) taking interest from new investors keen to become directly involved in the fastest growing sports and entertainment sector.

A top tier professional esports organisation based in Australia, the Dire Wolves are the only Australian team to compete in the League of Legends World Championships twice.

The 2018 League of Legends World Championships boasted close to 200 million viewers and a prize pool of almost $6.5 million.

The Sydney Drop Bears have won the Blizzard run Overwatch Contenders series multiple times, with players being scouted and transferred to global Overwatch World League teams.

Having succeeded in leading the new wave of professionalism and advancing the commercialisation of esports locally, Dave Harris, Director of Guinevere Capital, has expanded the portfolio to the point where global cross-ownership rules have come into play.

Since investing in UK based team Excel (with a base now developed in Twickenham Rugby Stadium) and won a franchise slot in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), publisher Riot Games now requires divestment of their interests in the Australian esports team.

“As part of the European Franchise application process, Riot was clear that we cannot maintain a holding in both teams in case they meet in an international tournament, such as the World Championships at the end of the year,” Harris told Ministry of Sport.

“This presents what is now a rare opportunity for someone to own a top tier esports operation in Australia, involved in the top publisher-led esports leagues, with fantastic commercial relationships, as well as with significant community and fan support in the key 16-34 age demographic.

“We have also taken interest from investors to be part of the Sydney Drop Bears and the Esports High-Performance Centre assets.

“It’s exciting,” Harris said.

Leading Marketing & Commercial across the portfolio, Gareth Jones said: “The Esports High-Performance Centre is a fantastic project because it is creating a clear pathway for talented and ambitious players in Australia to step up and compete on the international stage.”

Jones is tasked with ensuring new investors gain their share of the significant growth forecast for the esports sector and says “Within the Esports High-Performance Centre we apply traditional sports models in terms of training and commercialisation, optimising competition performance and developing great brand experiences for sponsors.

“We are excited about seeing where we can take esports locally and throughout the Asia Pacific region – which is the fastest growing region for esports fans globally.”

Top Australian lawyer in the esports space, Mat Jessep at DWF Australia, says investors are starting to see the real potential of professional gaming.

“Global esports revenues are expected to hit US$1.2 billion in 2019 – up 34 per cent since 2017 and some forecasters, like Goldman Sachs, estimate further growth to US$3 billion by 2022,” he said.

“There has never been a better or bigger opportunity in the Australian esports market place.”

DWF Australia is acting for Guinevere Capital on the transaction.

Image – Snowball Esports

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney