ATU Partners (ATU), a South Korean private equity firm that specialises in lifestyle investments, makes its foray into the esports space with the launch of a $17-million growth fund that focuses on the said industry, the company said in a statement.
The fund, which ATU claims to be the first of its kind in Asia dedicated to investing in esports related companies, has received commitments from leading gaming companies such as Kakao Games and The E&M. Institutional investors such as SB Partners and Woori Technology also joined in as limited partners.
Even before the official launch of the growth fund, ATU Partners has already made a significant acquisition and investment. The company said the fund has acquired DRX, one of the most prestigious League of Legends teams, for an undisclosed amount.
DRX, formerly known as Kingzone Dragon X, produced the first place winner in the League of Legends Championship Korea competition twice. It also owns the team that won second place in the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational and first place in the 2019 Rift Rivals.
The fund has also invested in US-based AZYT, one of the top three esports agencies in the world. The said company holds an official talent agency license in California and has signed contracts with more than 70 esports players.
ATU’s launch of the $17-million growth fund comes as the esports market is expected to grow from the current $1 billion to $2.7 billion in 2022, according to data from Goldman Sachs. Additionally, the number of global esports viewers is estimated to reach 280 million by 2020 from the current 200 million.
“The esports industry has been growing rapidly at 30 per cent year-on-year over the last couple of years. Followed by the investment boom in K-Pop and K-Beauty, we forecast the esports will become the next big investment trend capturing Korea’s strength in the industry,” said ATU Partners CEO Jamie Park.
ATU Partners was established in May 2019 as a PE fund that targets media, esports, and K-Beauty. Its debut fund aims to invest in cultural content projects by the first quarter of this year.