Basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers has announced that it is branching out into the world of eSports, acquiring and merging Teams Dignitas and Apex.

In an announcement made late last night, the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they would be diversifying from basketball into games including Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch, by acquiring eSports outfits Team Dignitas and Team Apex from their respective previous owners Michael O'Dell and David Slan for undisclosed sums. Fans of the latter, though, may be displeased to hear that the Team Apex brand is no more as a result of the deal: all Team Apex members are to join their former rivals under the Team Dignitas banner.

'The eSports industry is primed for incredible growth and we are thrilled to become an owner of such a storied franchise as Team Dignitas,' claimed Josh Harris, managing general partner for the Philadelphia 76ers. 'There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organisation to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games. We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole.'

'The attractiveness of this deal is as much about the people as it is the opportunity,' added Philadelphia 76ers chief executive Scott O'Neil of his company's acquisitions. 'Bringing together gaming industry luminaries including Greg Richardson, Michael O'Dell and David and Michael Slan puts us on track to build the most respected and dominant franchise in the eSports space, spur fan engagement and re-imagine corporate sponsorship to create a vibrant, global e-arena where the greatest players in the world aspire to compete.'

Under its new ownership, the larger Team Dignitas will compete in games including League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite. The acquisition marks the first time the owners of a mainstream North American sports team have acquired eSports teams, a possible sign of increasing acceptance of eSports in the west.
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