Splyce raises $2.6 million in a round of funding

Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace is part of a group that has invested heavily in multi-game esports organization Splyce. Cal Sport Media/AP Images

Multi-game esports organization Splyce has raised $2.6 million in a funding round that includes former Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, former New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper and sports agent David Meltzer, the team told ESPN on Monday.

The round was led by Toronto-based The Ledger Group, which contributed a total of $1.5 million to the round alone. Ledger will rebrand to OverActive Media as a result of multiple esports investments such as Splyce, Askott Entertainment and Enthusiast Gaming, Inc.

First Serve Partners, a New York and Florida-based venture capital firm that works with a number of pro athletes and other sports, media and entertainment investors, also joined the round. It recruited World Peace, Harper and Meltzer for this investment. Both Ledger and First Serve Partners are joining the Splyce board as observers.

"We believe that our investment in Splyce, featuring a strategic collection of iconic athletes and business leaders in our syndicate, positions us to not only capitalize on the transcendent growth of esports but to bridge the gap between athletes as entrepreneurs and investors, and continue our leadership across sports, media, and entertainment," First Serve Partners CEO Waylon Chin told ESPN.

Splyce is currently in the process of finalizing their application for a franchise spot in the European League of Legends Championship Series, which they have been a part of since acquiring Team Dignitas EU's slot in October 2015.

If accepted, Splyce will be required to pay a total of 8 million euros ($9.37 million) over time. The European League of Legends Championship Series is one of the organization's most valuable assets. In addition to the League of Legends team, Splyce holds teams in Call of Duty, Halo, Rocket League, StarCraft II, Smite and Paladins.

"There's a lot of excitement from everyone in Splyce about bringing in our new groups from Toronto (Ledger) and New York (First Serve Partners)," Splyce CEO Marty Strenczewilk told ESPN. "They not only expand our networks into two key business regions in the northeast, but also provide a wealth of business acumen to support our growth strategies. I've never looked at us as purely a sports team, but rather an entertainment company. Working with accomplished entertainment veterans like Joey Brander, David Meltzer, Roman Harper and Metta World Peace gives us a lot of support and reach for our projects to expand the Splyce brand beyond the core esports audience and reach new fans."

The round is Splyce's second sports-and-entertainment-centric investment. In February 2017, Delaware North, the parent company of the Boston Bruins and the TD Garden, invested in Splyce and have since assisted the brand with sales, development and marketing, as well as adding Splyce merchandise to the Garden's in-arena store.

Strenczewilk first met First Serve Partners managing partner Brander at an esports-vs.-traditional-sports panel at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, in September, prior to the annual ESL One New York at the Barclays Center; Strenczewilk was a panelist and Brander was the moderator for that discussion. The two kept in touch, Brander said, and later discussed working together when Strenczewilk sought more investment for his company.

On June 8, Splyce launched a separate production company called Emberlore. Emberlore will not only produce content for Splyce and its own teams, but also for third parties, such as brands, advertisers and content houses looking to create content in the esports and gaming spaces. Other teams, such as Team Liquid with 1UP Studios, have also spun off their production teams to be able to freelance, with much success.