- Cloud9 finishes second with valuation of US$350m; Team Liquid, Faze Clan and 100 Thieves round out top five
- Immortals Gaming Club drops off list as revenues plummet 23%
Team SoloMid has topped Forbes’ annual list of the world’s most valuable esports companies with a value of US$410 million.
The study, which saw Forbes speak to two dozen esports organisations, investors, advisors to investors, and analysts, puts Team SoloMid in first, after the California-based organisation tied for the top spot with Cloud9 the previous year.
Team SoloMid’s valuation is up three per cent on 2019. The company had a total estimated revenue of US$45 million, with 50 per cent of that coming specifically from competitive gaming activity.
Cloud9 slipped to second in the 2020 standings, its value falling 13 per cent to US$350 million. It has an estimated annual revenue of US$30 million, 70 per cent of which came from esports.
Rounding out the top five are Team Liquid in third with a value of US$310 million, down three per cent year-over-year (YoY), followed by Faze Clan which is worth US$305 million (up 27 per cent YoY), and 100 Thieves which is valued at US$190 million (up 19 per cent YoY).
Enthusiast Gaming is ranked for the first time in Forbes’ list, placing seventh. The company acquired Omnia Media and expanded its reach to 300 million gamers monthly, making it the largest gaming media platform in North America. Valued at US$180 million, the company is set to post revenue of US$95 million for 2020.
Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), fifth in 2019, fell out of the top ten altogether, attributable to ‘a singular focus on competitive gaming’, Forbes says. Over two years, IGC paid US$58 million for city-based teams that compete in the high-profile Call of Duty League (CDL), the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and the Overwatch League (OWL). However, live event cancellations hit the company hard, with revenues falling 23 per cent, according to the study.
IGC later sold Optic Gaming’s CDL franchise slot to 100 Thieves and has been linked with a potential sale of its OWL franchise. The organisation’s revenue is expected to drop to US$8.5 million this year and its value is less than half the US$260 million Forbes estimated in 2019.
The average value of the top ten teams flatlined at US$240 million this year, following a 54 per cent rise in 2019. Covid-19 has also caused market researcher Newzoo to revise the projected global revenues for the industry down from an initial US$1.1 billion to US$950.3 million. In addition, the inability to host spectators at live events had knock-on effects on merchandise sales, as well as forfeited media rights and sponsorships.
Forbes adds that plateauing values are leading early investors – including many venture capitalists, who according to Pitchbook have pumped US$4.8 billion into esports over the past five years – to put the pressure on companies to make money. In response to this, esports organisations are now morphing into broader entertainment companies to enhance their wider appeal.