Renowned Swedish esports organization Ninjas in Pyjamas are merging with Chinese company ESV5. ESV5 is a joint venture by two Chinese esports organizations, eStar Gaming and Victory Five. Chinese videogame site DouYu, anti-virus company Qihoo 360, and casino magnate Dr. Stanley Ho’s son Mario Ho are among the investors of ESV5.
The new entity formed by this merger is likely to be listed in the American NASDAQ, hopefully by year-end or the next year, making it the first esports team to feature in the New York stock exchange.
“Today we’re taking a massive step towards that goal by entering a new market together with Chinese esports group ESV5 to create NIP Group—a global organization that fields teams in all the major esports titles,” NiP said in a statement released on their website.
Victory Five, who participate in China’s top division League of Legends, will be rebranded to Ninjas in Pyjamas from 2022 onwards. This won’t be the first time for NIP on the League of Legends front as the Swedish team has already entered the completion twice before withdrawing. Apart from this, NIP will continue to field rosters in Valorant, CS:GO, Rainbow Six Siege, and FIFA. While CS:GO, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and FIFA will be headquartered from Stockholm, the League of Legends roster will function from Shenzen in China, where it is reported that the team will set up training facilities, offices, and a home arena. Due to regulations set up Riot Games, name changes will have to wait until the 2022 League of Legends Pro League Summer Split.
As part of the merger, NIP will also incorporate ESV5’s mobile gaming specialist eStar Gaming, via which it will enter the mobile gaming world in League of Legends, synchronizing it with their PC operations. eStar Gaming currently also competes in Tencent’s popular video game Honour of Kings. Reports also suggest that the companies’ combined projects bring around $61.70 million for the 2021 year.
Speaking on the occasion of the merger, NIP’s CEO Hicham Chahine said, “I’m incredibly excited to finally announce this deal. We have been scoping opportunities to enter League of Legends for years now but the fundamentals were seldom there. We have been scoping opportunities to enter League of Legends for years now but the fundamentals were seldom there. It’s no secret that League is by far the biggest esport globally. Our ambition has always been to become a global brand that helps put esports where it belongs, in regular media channels alongside the few other sports that have hundreds of millions of fans. If there’s one game that’s going to elevate esports to F1 levels of mainstream acceptance, it’s League of Legends. eStar is a well-run operation that’s established serious brand recognition to a point where fans follow them to any new games they enter in China. In Asia, mobile esports is growing so much faster than the traditional kind, and there’s immense value in the agility with which eStar can put together competitive rosters in new titles quickly.”
The merger seems to be a tactical move made by the Swedish organization, with China being the world’s largest gaming market, with some of the biggest names in the gaming world hailing from there – Tencent and NetEase. Video games consultancy, Niko Partners, reported that China had seen 388 million esports viewers in 2020, which was 21.3% more than the figure in 2019.
With a global rise in esports and targeting the biggest market, NIP’s merger comes when the organization looks to rebuild itself as one of the greats. NIP had already rebranded itself earlier this year in January. The Ninjas look to set up a dominating base on the gaming front and expand their digital influence. Breaking into the Chinese market is probably one of the best ways they can achieve that.