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Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik invests in esports company and Team Liquid ownership group aXiomatic

Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, invested in aXiomatic, which owns a controlling share in Team Liquid.
Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, invested in aXiomatic, which owns a controlling share in Team Liquid.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik joined aXiomatic, the majority owner of Team Liquid, the organization announced Thursday.

Vinik is also a minority owner of Fenway Sports Group (parent of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club and New England Sports Network) and owner of the Tampa Bay Storm (Arena Football League team). He joins aXiomatic as an investor, co-executive chairman and voting manager.

Along with Vinik, Jac Sperling, former CEO and co-general partner of Minnesota Sports and Entertainment (NHL’s Minnesota Wild), founder of Grit Rock Ventures, and former NBA executive with the New Orleans Pelicans, will also join aXiomatic as an investor.

The group already features Ted Leonsis, owner of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and NBA’s Washington Wizards, and Peter Guber, a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors. NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson is also listed among the group’s investors.

“I’ve watched the growth of the esports industry for a number of years and the opportunity to become involved with the impressive group already assembled at aXiomatic is the ideal way for me to make an impact,” Vinik said in a statement. “In addition to developing our strategic investment in Team Liquid, working with Steve (Arhancet) and Victor (Goossens) to continue to grow the brand and helping the success of the team, I look forward to working with Peter, Ted and Bruce in evolving the industry in a meaningful, authentic way.”

Vinik and Sperling are the two latest investors in the steadily growing aXiomatic, which acquired a controlling interest of Team Liquid last September. Team Liquid has competitive teams in League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Overwatch, StarCraft, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.

Liquid’s two highest profile teams are in League of Legends and CSGO. Its League of Legends team has struggled mightily since the spring split of the North American League Championship Series. It narrowly avoided relegation and came back to the summer split with the same roster that started the spring. In Counter-Strike, Liquid is coming off a semifinal appearance in the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals.

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