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Joe Tsai adds to sports portfolio with investment in European esports company

Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

Joe Tsai keeps adding to his growing sports portfolio, this time with a $10 million investment in a Berlin-based esports company, G2 Esports. The investment, for a 10 percent stake, will permit G2 Esports to expand operations in both China and North America, including the opening of an office in New York.

G2 Esports announced the investment Wednesday morning. Forbes describes the company’s place in esports.

G2 is one of the most recognizable e-sports organizations in the world, in part because of its popular CEO and co-owner, Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez, who founded the company after a successful competitive career in Riot’s League of Legends. Besides having 43 athletes signed to play in games including Fortnite, CS:GO, PUBG and Rocket League, Rodriguez owns the reigning champion and six-time title-winning franchise in Riot’s LOL European Championship. Last month, the team lost to China-based FunPlus Phoenix at the LOL Worlds tournament, played in Paris in front of a crowd of 15,000 and watched by 4 million worldwide.

With the investment, the Taiwanese-born Tsai has dramatically increased is role in professional sports in 2019. Tsai’s holdings, owned through his sports investment vehicle J Tsai Sports. now include:

—The Brooklyn Nets of the NBA (along with the Long Island Nets and NBA2k Nets Gaming Crew);

—Barclays Center;

—The New York Liberty of the WNBA;

—The San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League, an indoor league;

—a minority stake in Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer,

In addition, Tsai has invested in named and unnamed sports enterprises, including the Premier Lacrosse League, an outdoor league. Other than the Seals, all the sports investments were made in 2019. Tsai’s net worth increased by $3.2 billion this year, most of it due to the increase in the stock price of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant Tsai co-founded.

Forbes ranks Tsai as the eight richest sports team owner and the second richest NBA owner, behind only Steve Ballmer of the Clippers.

J Tsai Sports is headed for the time being by Oliver Weisberg, who also heads Blue Pool Capital, Tsai’s investment vehicle. David Levy, former head of Turner Media, had been installed as CEO of J Tsai Sports as well as the Nets and Barclays Center but left last month. A search for a new CEO is underway.