Super League Gaming, which hosts eSports competitions in movie theaters and online for amateur video-game players, has banked $15 million in Series C funding from investors including Viacom’s Nickelodeon, DMG Entertainment, and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik.
DMG’s backing of Super League was previously reported by Variety. Others participating in the round include SoftBank’s ISAT fund, Toba Capital, eSports ownership group aXiomatic, and other pro sports team owners. To date, Super League has raised more than $28 million, with earlier participation from investors including Cinemark USA, ET Capital and Quadrant Management.
“Nickelodeon is interested in eSports because gaming is an important passion point for kids today, and forging this partnership with Super League puts us at the forefront of where kids will be playing next,” said Matthew Evans, Nickelodeon’s EVP of digital and new business.
Santa Monica-based Super League was founded in 2014, initially launching with “Minecraft” multiplayer events in movie theaters for kids. In November 2016, it expanded its offering by introducing “League of Legends” to its competitive events series in partnership with Riot Games. The company has held one season of “League of Legends” intercity tournament play, with the second season launching online in July in 12 markets across the U.S.
Super League operates 12 city-focused teams in markets including New York, L.A., Chicago, Miami and San Francisco — mimicking the setup of traditional sports leagues. The Chicago Force will be defending the title for the second season of “League of Legends City Champs,” while the reigning “Minecraft City Champs” are the L.A. Shockwaves. “Our city-based clubs add a sense of belonging and fandom currently missing from eSports,” commented Super League Gaming CEO Ann Hand.
Added Vinik, owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, “In my career in professional sports, the most exciting thing is the energy and enthusiasm that fans show for their city ’s teams. Go to any Super League event, and you will see the same energy of players and fans cheering for their city ’s team that we see in the NHL.”