Mentioned in this article
- T1 Entertainment & Sports has received regulatory approval and launches with combined $41M USD funding from Comcast and Highland Capital.
- Joe Marsh, formerly chief business officer for the Philadelphia Fusion, is appointed CEO of the joint venture.
- T1 is readying a ten-story facility in Seoul’s Gangnam District and is close to announcing new commercial partners.
Comcast Spectacor and SK Telecom have officially announced their joint esports venture, having received all necessary regulatory approvals. T1 Entertainment & Sports (T1) launches with multiple esports teams based out of South Korea and the U.S, including a three-time World Champion League of Legends outfit. The joint venture will be 54% owned by SK Telecom, 34% by Comcast, and the remainder by Highland Capital—the latter two to invest a combined $41M cash into the business.
Joe Marsh, most recently the chief business officer for Comcast’s Spectacor Gaming division and the Philadelphia Fusion, has been named CEO of T1. John Kim, founder of Akshon Media and former CEO of Meta Gaming, will head operations from Seoul, South Korea. The new logo and branding for T1 was created with B&C Group, based out of Seoul and Los Angeles. Whereas the previously named SK Telecom T1 worked with third parties for content, T1 is now producing all social and video material in-house. “[It’s] easier to control the message, the product, and tell the stories that we want to tell,” Marsh told The Esports Observer.
With the announcement today, T1 also revealed a new website and its first merchandise drop. The company is planning to open a ten-story facility in February, located in Seoul’s Gangnam district, to house all its staff and competitive talent in Asia. “A lot of stuff you see our contemporaries do, like 100 Thieves, Cloud9, and Team Liquid, we’re going to finally catch up and in that aspect,” said Marsh.
As well as using the funding to resign its League of Legends players, T1 is looking to build out facilities in the west, and expand into other games. The organization recently announced its entry into Dota 2, with a team to be based out of Singapore for the time being. It is one of the few South Korean teams in the Dota 2 professional scene, where the top rosters typically come from China, Europe, and the CIS region.
“Obviously [Dota 2 is] the biggest prize pool in esports,” said Marsh. “It’s just like League of Legends in terms of rabid fanbase and popularity.” He added that the company opted to bring in a rookie squad, rather than acquire an established roster. “[There’s] not a lot of new blood coming into it, so you’re seeing a lot of older players in there.”
Marsh said he is already in talks with brands who are looking to sponsor T1’s Dota 2 team, specifically. In addition, the company is close to signing four premier partnerships with currently unnamed automotive, gaming chair, PC, and peripheral companies. Lagardère Sports is the commercial agent for T1, and recently facilitated a promotional deal between League of Legends player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Swiss watchmaker Omega, for Korea GQ.
“Up until now, SK has been a marketing arm,” said Marsh. “There was no need to bring in brand partners, but now you’re going to see us develop a really strong commercial program, much like you see in European football. That’s the model we want to go for.”
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