Swedish media company Modern Times Group have been slowly increasing their eSports market share under the radar. Following the purchase of a 74% share in ESL for €78 million in July they have been busy looking at other ways that they can expand into the growing eSports market.
Less than two weeks ago Swedish tech publication Breakit.se reported that sources had informed them that MTG were looking to purchase DreamHack. Breitbart can now confirm this is true but also that MTG acquired another eSports company that went largely unnoticed.
Sources within DreamHack confirmed that MTG had been in talks to purchase a controlling interest and that the stumbling block was valuation. It is alleged that the company’s new owner, Bernt Ohlén, who acquired the company in dubious circumstances from his own son after having shares temporarily transferred to him during a court case, is holding out for a much bigger payment. “The general consensus is if 74% of ESL is worth €78 million then he feels what we’re being offered doesn’t represent value” one source confirmed.
There is already an existing relationship between MTG and DreamHack after the two companies partnered on the creation of a studio for the production of eSports content in 2013. The operating costs of the studio are reputedly covered solely by MTG, adding another nuance to the negotiations.
However, while people have been talking about the potential of DreamHack and ESL being effectively owned by the same parent company, raising fears of a potential monopoly, another one of MTG’s purchases seems to have gone unreported. Recently Breitbart learned that they had also bought the popular American online league ESEA.
Sources from within ESL confirmed that ESEA had indeed been acquired by MTG, stating that it was a “complete buyout” that would lead to a change in the upper echelons of management and ownership. One source also confirmed that it means that controversial ESEA owner, Eric Thunberg, who has presided over and fueled some of the biggest controversies in the company’s history, will be leaving. They added, “He won’t be missed.”
The makes sense as an existing partnership between ESL and ESEA has been in place since the European company announced that it would be expanding into North America. In March 2014 ESL purchased the agency Esports Services (ESS) which was founded by ESEA’s co-owner Craig Levine. Since then they partnered on their own “super league” that features the best Counter-Strike teams from Europe and the Americas, with $500,000 of prize money handed out over the course of the season.
Industry insiders have speculated what the purchases could mean and the consensus seems to be two-fold. Firstly, that MTG want to ensure that they have a controlling interest in the biggest tournament organisers in the industry for the purposes of ensuring they have content to broadcast. Secondly, that owning these three properties would facilitate the introduction of a global tour that teams could be compelled to compete in ahead of competitor’s tournaments.
Breitbart reached out to MTG and DreamHack for this story, but both chose to decline to comment.