After two years of the pandemic, everyone in the esports industry expected that 2022 would be some sort of renaissance, and that expectation was met to some degree. The year started with perhaps the most important merger in years, but investment has lagged throughout the year.
Still, we witnessed some incredible moments when FaZe Clan went public, Savvy Games Group announced one of the largest eSports investment funds ever, and ReKT Global was acquired for nearly half a billion dollars.
Continue reading The Best eSports Ad Campaigns of 2022 Angels and Unicorns: Top eSports Investments, Mergers and Acquisitions of 2021
The creation of the ESL FACEIT Group
The merger of the two companies created the ESL FACEIT Group. Photo credit: ESL FACEIT Group.
Without a doubt, the biggest investment story of 2022 is the acquisition and subsequent merger of ESL Gaming and FACEIT. The merger took place in January and resulted in the creation of ESL FACEIT Group, one of the largest esports-focused companies in the world. The two companies were bought by Savvy Games Group, an investment company backed by the Saudi Arabian government.
This merger, worth over a billion dollars, allowed both ESL Gaming and FACEIT to continue working on their own projects. This, in turn, led to further investments by the group in esports, notably in mobile gaming through the Snapdragon Pro series and in CS:GO for women through the ESL Impact series.
Overall, the merger is positive, but criticism is that the new owners of the group are based in Saudi Arabia, a country that has come under criticism for “esports washing”.
The merger boded for the future, as SGG made headlines later in the year by announcing a $39 billion esports and gaming fund.
FaZe Clan goes public
Photo credit: FaZe Clan
There is no shortage of esports companies publicly traded on exchanges around the world. This can range from organizations like Guild Esports to holding companies like OverActive Media, the owners of MAD Lions. Still, the news that FaZe Clan, arguably one of the most popular esports brands of all time, went public was a significant moment within esports
FaZe Clan went public on July 20, 2022 in a $725 million SPAC merger. The company’s total value at the time was around $1 billion, making FaZe the first-ever esports unicorn, a term used by the startup world to describe a company worth more than $1 billion . FaZe also had a lot going into 2022 – the company had numerous teams in competitive titles, its CS:GO team won a major just a few months before the merger, and partners like Disney and Draft Kings were there to support FaZe.
Still, things arguably fell flat after the merger. In the last six months, FaZe stock has fallen from a high of $20 to $1, and the company’s market cap is now around $130 million, quite different from the highs we’ve seen this summer to have. FaZe Clan’s most recent regulatory filing even includes a somber sentence: “These conditions have cast significant doubt on our ability to continue as a company.”
Important steps for the Misfits Gaming Group
(ESI Illustration) Credit: Misfits Gaming Group
One of the most popular esports companies in North America and Europe, Misfits Gaming Group (MGG) has made some drastic changes in 2022. The company began to move away from competitive esports and towards content creation. The change in direction was evidenced by two distinct major moves: MGG sold a large percentage of their spot in the LEC, Europe’s premier League of Legends league, and then established a multi-million dollar fund aimed at content creators.
The first move resulted in Misfits leaving the LEC, having been active since the league’s inception in 2016. The place was sold to Team Heretics, a Spanish esports organization. Misfits Gaming Group still retained 20% of the franchise slot, and Heretics paid around $34 million for their stake. The Misfits Gaming Group still owns Florida Mutineers in the Call of Duty League and Florida Mayhem in the Overwatch League and has a VALORANT roster.
After leaving the LEC, the company established a $20 million creator fund open to all interested content creators. The new fund will allow Misfits to fund a large number of different content creation projects ranging from television and streaming to YouTube shows, conferences, merchandise lines and other ventures. This underscores the shift towards content that Misfits announced upon leaving the LEC.
ReKT Global is acquired by Infinite Reality
Photo credit: ReKTGlobal / Infinite Reality
ReKT Global, an esports holding company best known as the owner of London Royal Ravens and Rogue, was acquired by Metaverse entertainment and production company Infinite Reality this year for US$470 million (~£360 million). This is one of the largest sums paid for an esports company in history, and the merger brought all of ReKT’s properties into Infinite Reality. This includes talent management, teams, technology products, esports teams and marketing.
The merger puts Infinite Reality on the map as a major player in esports and gaming. Interestingly, Rogue, one of the esports teams that used to be part of ReKT Global, has also partnered with KOI, which will see the Spanish brand enter the LEC this year. The Rogue brand will therefore no longer compete in the LEC, however its management structure and operations will be leveraged under the agreement.
It’s also worth noting that Infinite Reality began public trading in December 2022.
FlyQuest was acquired by Florida Panthers owners
(ESI illustration) Credits: FlyQuest, YES Market Media, Shutterstock.com
North American esports organization FlyQuest also changed hands this year. The esports organization was acquired by the Viola Family Office, owners of NHL team Florida Panthers. The new owners bought FlyQuest from another prominent American sports figure, NBA Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens and Fortress Investment Group.
FlyQuest is best known as an organization with a strong focus on supporting environmentally friendly causes and organizations, including non-profit organizations. This has led to the organization being known around the world as one of the more eco-friendly esports teams, which is evident in their branding and overall approach to merchandise.
Although FlyQuest’s greatest success came when the organization qualified for the 2020 League of Legends World Championships, it also has a lot of potential for growth. This is confirmed by the new owners, who want FlyQuest to expand into more esports titles in the near future.
Ivan is from Croatia, loves weird simulator games and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about technology and esports in Croatia and now do it here.