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Investors pour $25M into eSports team Cloud9

The eSports team Cloud9 saw investments from owners of NBA and NHL teams as well as a contribution from the sports entertainment company WWE.

The multigame eSports team Cloud9 has raised a total of $25 million at the end of a Series A funding round to help cover franchising fees and possibly establish a dedicated training facility for its players down the road. 

The round was led by early Facebook investor Founders Fund and saw additional contributions from the WWE, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Monumental Sports & Entertainment co-owner Raul Fernandez, Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz, and tech investors David Scaks and Bill Lee. 

A number of investors from the eSports team’s $3 million seed funding increased their stakes in the company during this latest round, including San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, the game developer FunPlus, Signia Venture Partners’ Rick Thompson, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanin. 

ESPN reports that the funding round itself was kicked off in part to help the organization cover franchise fees for upcoming eSports events after expanding into Blizzard’s Overwatch League and the League of Legends Championship Series. Those fees could total as much as $30 million.

"We didn't really bring too much money into the company in [the seed] because we didn't know what the franchise and entry fees were going to be," Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne explained to ESPN. "We didn't know for sure which games we'd be a part of. It was a bit premature to have the sizable round that we ended up doing this time. It was always in the plan, even when we did our seed, we knew this was coming and the timing was going to be around when we knew what the franchising costs would be depending on what we were looking at. That's what brought this on."

Altogether, Cloud9 maintains a presence in the professional Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Hearthstone, League of LegendsSuper Smash Bros., Rocket League, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Vainglory scenes. 

Though no plans have been formally announced, Etienne also told ESPN that he’d like to build a facility similar to those other eSports teams have set up for housing and training purposes in Los Angeles.  

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