UK-based esports organisation Fnatic has raised over $17 million in a recent funding round as it targets the Japanese market, with the Marubeni Corporation a key backer.

This development with Fnatic took the headline in this week’s ESI Digest, as Esports Insider Sub-Editor Tom Daniels discussed the ‘growing market in Japan,’ describing the move as ‘significant’ due to its demonstration of changing trends in the esports space.

Commenting on the move by Fnatic, Daniels remarked: “Japan has always had major titles circulating through its esports system, but it seems that in the past 12 months there has been a boost from the country to enhance its esports market.

“It will be really interesting to see if other organisations branch further into there as well, and I think that now we’re seeing more markets emerging and we won’t be sticking with China, Korea, the US and Europe as the major four. Are we going to see more upcoming regions? It definitely seems so with this investment.”

Meanwhile, bridging the gap between traditional sports and esports, Manchester United and England defender Harry Maguire has been named a brand ambassador for UK-based Semper Fortis Esports.

The player will interact with fans across digital platforms alongside providing his ‘experience in traditional sports’ to apply it to an esports organisation. As brand ambassador, he will receive payments via warrants enabling him to purchase shares in Semper Fortis Esports after a 12-month period.

The Manchester United Captain is the second professional footballer to be named as a Semper Fortis Esports brand ambassador, following last week’s addition of Everton striker Dominic Calvert Lewin.

“It’s a smart decision to bring in these local names if you want to establish yourself as a UK organisation,” Daniels commented. These are two high profile UK footballers, and it goes in line with what they wanted to do when they launched, which was to bring personalities into the organisation.”

Moving to the other side of the Atlantic, online sports betting operator Betway announced a partnership with Brazilian esports organisation FURIA.

The partnership will feature international cross collaborations, including content and activations across BetwayTV, the bookmaker’s streaming platform. Furthermore, FURIA will receive access to Betway’s partners in Brazil and globally.

Daniels stated: “This isn’t Betway’s first Brazilian esports partnership. They have partnered with MIBR, which is Immortal Gaming Club’s Brazilian esports team, and they’ve also announced a Brazilian betway squad consisting of influencers. This really signifies Betway’s continued push into the LatAm market, and specifically into Brazil.”

The NA LCS Players Association (LCS PA) took up two key stories this week, with the group’s board restructuring drawing the most attention. 

Philip Aram has taken on the position of Executive Director of the organisation, having previously worked for Evil Geniuses.

Additional board restructuring saw Stephen Ellis, CEO of Pipeline, Lauren Gaba Flanagan, Founder of and Partner at Theorycraft, and Jason Docton, CEO of Rise Above the Disorder, join the LCS PA team.

I think a restructuring of the LCS Players Association is a very smart decision,” Daniels added.  “While the LCS PA has not been terrible, there have been discussions about its effectiveness since its inception, especially since – as reported by Travis Gafford – the association reportedly voted to cancel the 2020 Spring Split, and then the Spring Split came on. It raised questions as to how much power the player’s association actually has.”

Staying on the LCS PA, Daniels discussed the unveiling of North American esports organisation FlyQuest’s new visual identity ahead of the 2021 LCS Summer Split. 

The new logo will heavily leverage the group’s ‘Showcase Greatness’ initiative in 2020, which hsaw it launch a range of ‘Go Green’ environmental campaigns.

Source – Esports Insider YouTube Channel

ESI Digest: Fnatic eyes Japanese expansion following $17 million funding round