Fri September 29 2017

Marshawn Lynch, J.Lo part of $15 million investment in NRG Esports

by Jacob Wolf, ESPN Staff Writer

NRG Esports is in the process of closing a $15 million Series B financing round that includes investment from multiplatinum recording artist and actress Jennifer Lopez and sports icons Marshawn Lynch, Alex Rodriguez and Michael Strahan, among others, the esports team announced Thursday.

The new investment round includes a number of Bay Area investors as well as celebrities with an interest in the esports space. Rodriguez, who has previously invested in the company, is increasing his investment and joining the company’s board. Lynch, Strahan and former Cleveland Indians outfielder Marlon Byrd join Rodriguez as athletes involved in the round.

Other names investing include Twitter chief operating officer and former NFL chief financial officer Anthony Noto, Sacramento Kings minority owner and Sacramento Republic owner Kevin Nagle, and Fortress Investment Group chairman Pete Briger, all of whom are based in the Bay Area.

The round is the third that NRG has completed since its formation in November 2015. Its seed round consisted of its founders, former Apple executive Andy Miller and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, both of whom own a stake in the Sacramento Kings. Its Series A during March 2016 included Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, Rodriguez and former Philadelphia Philliesshortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Alongside the investment, NRG Esports has finalized its Overwatch League roster for the soon-to-be-named San Francisco-based team. That roster includes Jay “sinatraa” Won and Matthew “super” DeLisi—who will be ineligible to compete until after their 18th birthdays in the spring—as well as Daniel “dhaK” Paz, Dante “Danteh” Cruz, André “iddqd” Dahlström, Andrej “babybay” Francisty, Nikola “sleepy” Andrews and David “nomy” Ramirez.

The team will be coached by former Selfless Gaming owner Brad Rajani and will relocate to the Los Angeles area ahead of the launch of the Overwatch League preseason on Dec. 6 at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. The main season for the league will begin Jan. 10, 2018.

The organization has previously operated in League of Legends, where it started its business, and currently holds teams and players in Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros., Hearthstone, Rocket League, Vainglory and other titles. The team bought into the Overwatch League for a reported $20 million, paid over time, in July.