RFRSH Entertainment, an esports talent agency representing player-owned orgs Astralis, Heroic, GODSENT and Norse, plans to raise and invest €30 million on new and existing esports franchises over the next two to three years.
The agency has already raised €4 million in venture capital from a group of tech investors put together by Copenhagen-based technology investment group Sunstone Capital. First-round investors include Tommy Ahlers, who backed Podio and Lightbox, and Rene Rechtman, an executive for Disney and Maker Studios.
RFRSH intends to bring in further investors to help it raise the full amount, which will be invested through a separate holding company. The talent agency will act as a broker, scouting out teams and properties for the fund to invest in.
"Esports is the largest and fastest growing entertainment subculture evolving from the fast-paced world of gaming," RFRSH CEO Nikolaj Nyholm said in a statement. "Our brands represent a unique medium for advertisers and media companies to connect with a demographic of over 350 million passionate fans who are not addressable through conventional media."
RFRSH was launched earlier this year by Nyholm, a former partner at Sunstone, and Jakob Lund Kristensen, a co-founder of Astralis and the Copenhagen Wolves. The two collaborated in January when Sunstone backed Astralis' formation as a player-owned org, and in August, it was announced the new talent agency would be partnering with GODSENT to handle their marketing and media relationships.
Along with the €4 million investment, RFRSH announced it will be bringing on KIF Kolding København handball goalie Kasper Hvidt as sports director when he retires in 2017. According to RFRSH's Reddit AMA, Hvidt will be in charge of player well-being, including physical training and support personnel like physiotherapists and psychologists, at a training facility being built for the teams in Copenhagen. Astralis representative Phillip Rasmussen said the team plans to use the facility as a base of operations rather than moving the players into a team house.
While RFRSH currently only works with Scandinavian player-owned orgs, Nyholm says the company wants to expand to other regions and other teams that are not player-owned.
In the AMA, Nyholm made it clear that RFRSH's agreements with player-owned teams gives them no control over competitive operations. "The teams operate independently which means that we won't have any influence over matters like what tournaments they play, matches, lineups, etc.," he wrote. "This is very clear in the agreements we have with the teams, also with regards to which party we work with when there is an intra-team transfer."
Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.
With files from Dennis Gonzales.