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Philadelphia 76ers make eSports move to harness industry's 'incredible' potential

The Philadelphia 76ers have become the first North American sports franchise to break into the world of eSports after acquiring controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex.

The Philadelphia 76ers have become the first North American sports franchise to break into the world of eSports after acquiring controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. 

Both teams have been combined by the 76ers to create a "powerhouse competitor," and will now operate under the Team Dignitas banner. 

The newly formed super group will specialize in a number of games, such as League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite

Team Dignitas founder Michael O'Dell will lead the newly merged team as president, and will work alongside Team Apex's former general manager Michael Slan, who's been appointed vice president. 

Terms of the purchase weren't disclosed, although an NBA press release does reveal that the Sixers completed the purchase in partnership with growth and venture capital firm, NextEquity. 

76ers' managing general partner, Josh Harris, said the eSports industry's potential for "incredible growth" sparked the deal.

"We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole,” added Harris. 

Going forward, the Sixers intend to get hands on with Dignitas, and will manage the team's day-to-day operations, "sharing best practices in sponsorship, sales, branding, digital marketing, merchandising, publicity and more."

The franchise will also invest time and resources in "player recruitment, development, and wellness."

Although the 76ers might be the first North American sports team to dive into the realm of professional gaming, they aren't the world's first. 

Earlier this year, German soccer team FC Schalke 04 completed the takeover of pro League of Legends team, Elements. 

Spanish side Valencia CF followed suit a few months later, creating its very own eSports team with a view to entering "a sports sector with such a marked growth."

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