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What the Hell Happened: Drake Now Co-owns an Esports Company

{image id=1333575 align=center size=large caption=false}No, you did not misread the headline. Entertainment industry superstar, Aubrey “Drake” Graham, was just announced as a co-owner of 100 Thieves, a Los Angeles based esports, apparel and gaming content company. Drake, along with Scooter Braun and venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital, put up a whopping $25 million for a Series A funding round. This news comes shortly after 100T’s League of Legends team suffered an early exit at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship. Despite the loss, the team performed well throughout their inaugural season. 100 Thieves’ success does not end at League of Legends, though — their apparel drops, which forego the typical “gamer” look by combining modern streetwear aesthetic with premium materials, sell out in mere minutes. In addition to esports and apparel, 100T also employs professional streamers, like Nick “Nickmercs” Kolcheff and Rachel “Valkyrae” Hostetter, who have massive followings on both Twitch and YouTube.

The background information here is important — not just for context but for clarity. In a world where the legitimacy of esports is questioned by so many, celebrity figures’ support for the scene (both financially and otherwise) helps solidify it as a vertical market in the world of entertainment. Drake’s financial contributions to 100 Thieves are only his most recent gaming venture. Earlier this year, he played with prominent Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins (who graced the cover of ESPN magazine in September) on stream for over 500,000 concurrent viewers.

In hindsight, Drake’s play session with Ninja seems deliberate and calculated. It introduced him as a subliminal figure in the gaming scene. Coughing up huge sums of cash to support an organization means you likely believe in its mission, and 100 Thieves seems like a great fit for Drake. It has a “cool” factor that many other large esports organizations lack. Their focus on gaming content and apparel makes them a lifestyle-first company which just so happens to be present in esports. This tactic is what originally helped them secure funding from Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert in 2017, allowing them to snag a franchise spot in the League of Legends Championship Series (commonly known as the “LCS”).

Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, the founder and CEO of 100 Thieves, is clearly the face of the organization, with his prior success and following translating into a large fanbase for the fledgling company. He is a retired Call of Duty professional who helped bring OpTic Gaming, the team on which he competed, to prominence. Now, not only is 100T competing against OpTic in Call of Duty, it threatens to surpass it in popularity and notoriety. Much of 100T’s success can be attributed to Haag’s developing business acumen and passion for esports, and apparently Drake thinks he is doing a pretty good job, too. The biggest question on my mind now: How many 100 Thieves trophies can Drake fit next to all those Grammys?

—Staff writer Dylan B. Meade can be reached at dylan.meade@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @dylanmeade.

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