The creation of North, the Counter-Strike team under the umbrella of Danish soccer power F.C. Copenhagen, demonstrated one of the many recent investments into esports by traditional sports organizations.
The NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers acquired Team Dignitas in September, one day before an investment group including owners of the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards (also NBA) purchased a majority stake in Team Liquid. Two weeks ago, the parent company of the NHL’s Boston Bruins bought a stake in Splyce — just to name a few examples.
The ex-Dignitas roster was announced as North on Jan. 3 and has since made the quarterfinals of the ELEAGUE Major last month and the semifinals of DreamHack Las Vegas over the weekend. In an interview with Slingshot during the Major, North coach Casper “ruggah” Due trumpeted not only the move to the new organization, but also the overall direction of traditional sports investment into esports.
“It has been amazing so far,” ruggah told Slingshot. “Everything from the start has been so professional. It’s been transparent all the way through, everything from the first contact to signing the contract to the new shirts, it’s so professional, and that’s nice to have in esports.”
One of the perks of the new org included a bootcamp at Parken Stadium, where F.C Copenhagen plays its matches, before the Major. But ruggah said the best part of the relationship has been the professional infrastructure F.C. Copenhagen has provided, which he says he’d like to see more in this industry. It’s worth noting that the team left Dignitas, which was also owned by a traditional sports organization, though ruggah was talking in generalities.
“I think the framework that the sports organizations have offer a lot to the esports community and its teams as well,” he told Slingshot. “Because it helps put a little pressure on the regular esports organizations to try to develop their own game to move with the flow. There’s always things about different organizations that have its flaws, and some things with contracts and such. There’s always something with different organizations. And when a really professional framework comes in from the side and sets the bar higher, then they need to adapt as well. So I think it’s a good thing for the whole community. I’m not saying (traditional) sports clubs should be there all the time or we should all be on sports clubs, but it helps bring the professionalism into esports, and I think that’s a good thing.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE, illustration by Slingshot