Fnatic, the London-based global esports brand, has raised $19 million in funding to fuel its expansion. It also shuffled its executive team.
Fnatic founder Sam Mathews will become CEO again, while former CEO Wouter Sleijffers is stepping down after four years. Nick Fry, former Mercedes AMG F1 CEO, has been named chairman, and Affectv founder Glen Calvert has been named chief operating officer.
Entrepreneur Lev Leviev of LVL1 Group led the round, with support from investors including Beringea, BlackPine, Unbound, and Joi Ito.
“It’s been a good, successful 12 months, and we’ve solidified ourselves as the biggest global esports brand when it comes to results and awareness,” Mathews said, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We are shifting into the next gear as a business. It’s a huge step toward becoming a global lifestyle brand.”
With this investment, Fnatic will enter the next phase of its global expansion, strengthen involvement in tier-one leagues, including the League of Legends European Championships, launch new product categories in its esports equipment subsidiary including a new audio line.
It will also beef up its marketing for both new and existing brands globally.
“Esports is the future of entertainment as well as one of the most dynamic and exciting emerging industries out there,” said Leviev, in a statement. “Fnatic has established itself as a driving force both on the competitive stage and as a global business in esports, I’m excited to be part of the next chapter as Fnatic scales into a global lifestyle brand.”
Few esports clubs have been as successful as Fnatic, which mother-and-son team Anne and Sam Mathews started 15 years ago.
“We are now seeing a large number of global brands entering the world of esports and capitalizing on the wealth of opportunities it presents,” Fry said. “With Fnatic’s heritage, experience and fanbase, we are able to offer a direct route for these brands to unlock key audiences in millennials and Gen Z. The future holds infinite possibilities for Fnatic in this exciting time.”
Fnatic’s League of Legends team made it to second place in last year’s LoL World Championships, which was viewed by an estimated 100 million people worldwide. Fnatic has its own line of hardware, and its teams generated 2.4 billion hours watched in 2018.
The latest round of investment will be used to structure the company for further expansion into Asia and North America, continue to partner with the most forward-thinking global brands, and cement its position as the leading lifestyle esports organization globally.
In London, Fnatic is launching a 10,000-square-feet training facility. It also has facilities in Berlin and Kuala Lumpur. It has hired sports psychologists and trainers to help the teams with performance. Fnatic is also launching more of its own branded game hardware products such as a new audio headset.
“We have a very big roadmap, which we’re extremely excited about,” Mathews said.
As for the esports landscape, Mathews said, “It looks extremely exciting. Every year, there are more games that are exciting, like Apex Legends, which I think has huge potential and esports title.”
He added, “Fortnite has a huge competition coming up in the World Cup. So we’re investing heavily into bringing upon our players on for that. And there is League of Legends in Europe, which has brought on loads of major big brand partnerships. I think that esports is the future of entertainment. I think that it’s the most engaging of all your entertainment platforms. And that’s kind of the reason why [Netflix CEO] Reed Hastings has said that he sees more threat from Fortnite than he does from HBO.”
Fnatic has more than 50 team members across ten games, and Fnatic has a total of 90 staff. The company has around 6 million followers across its channels.