Billionaire Usmanov to Invest $100m in Russian E-Sports Firm

Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s USM Holdings agreed to invest about $100 million in Russia’s largest online sports company as live-streaming of video game tournaments attracts interest from businesses such as Amazon.com Inc. and Time Warner’s TBS.

Usmanov’s USM will become an investor in Virtus.pro, which organizes tournaments for games such as Counter Strike, Dota 2 and League of Legends, and broadcasts them online. The provider has more than 7.6 million subscribers, and its content received over 1 billion views last year, according to the billionaire’s holding company.

“E-sports are a unique proposition, uniting the sports, media and the Internet industries,” Ivan Streshinsky, a USM Holdings board member, said in the statement. “It is a fast-growing market, which has already generated huge interest around the world.”

The e-sports market is worth $612 million a year, USM said, citing SuperData Research. Amazon.com spent $970 million last year to buy Twitch.tv, a platform for live streaming video games and e-sports tournaments. Time Warner’s TBC plans to broadcast Counter Strike league next year.

Virtus plans to use the proceeds from the USM deal to fund new tournaments, create media channels to cover the sport and construct e-sports arenas, co-owner Anton Cherepennikov said in the statement.

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