NBA alum Shaquille O’Neal and NRG eSports’ other celebrity backers must be proud of the company’s Rocket League team, which won the Rocket League Championship Series X - Winter North American Major on Feb. 28.
“To say Championship Sunday was Rocket League at its finest would be an understatement,” the eSports organization said of its Rocket League victory in a company newsletter. “We may be slightly biased, but it is hard to deny that Rocket League is a Tier 1 Esport when the regional Grand Final boasts over 190,000 concurrent viewers!”
Does Shaq own NRG? Who are the NRG owners?
O’Neal doesn’t own NRG outright, but he's part of the company’s ownership group, as CNBC reported in 2016.
The four-time NBA champion told CNBC at the time that his NRG role “keeps growing as this thing keeps blowing up. I help with recruiting of teams and streamers, working with sponsors and social-media outreach. I am also starting to guide them on content creation as NRG gets into original content development.”
The ownership group also includes former Philadelphia Phillies player Jimmy Rollins and New York Yankees alum Alex Rodriguez.
Gerard Kelly, then NRG’s president of gaming operations, told CNBC that A-Rod could give vital advice to the players. “They need to look forward to their futures and how to manage the celebrity, everything from their schedules to stress,” Kelly said. “He’s got a lot of valuable information to hand over.”
The eSports company gained more celebrity investors in 2017, when its Series B financing round included investments from pop star and actress (and Rodriguez’s then-girlfriend) Jennifer Lopez, former Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch, and NFL player-turned-Good Morning America cohost Michael Strahan. According to ESPN, Rodriguez increased his investment at the time and joined the company’s board.
NRG has other ties to the physical sports world. NRG founders Mark Mastrov and Andy Miller are part owners of the Sacramento Kings.
NRG eSports’ net worth
As of a December 2020 Forbes ranking, NRG was worth $155 million, a 3-percent gain year-over-year. Its estimated revenue at the time was $20 million, with 25 percent of that coming from eSports.
The magazine also reported that NRG’s revenue hit a plateau after its Call of Duty League and Overwatch League teams had to switch from paid in-person events to free online events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2020, the company opened a creative studio dubbed The Castle, where sponsored content can be filmed. (In a press release, NRG touts The Castle as a “virtual fantasy factory for gamers filled with one-of-a-kind gaming installations sprung from the minds of some of the best known set design creative teams in Hollywood.”)
“If your goal is just to be the Dallas Cowboys and just operate in competitive gaming, that is cool, but it’s a long way off,” Miller told Forbes, speaking to the company’s various revenue streams. “There’s not going to be one thing in gaming making you money.”