During the peak of its advertising and sponsorship blitz last fall, DraftKings was slapping its logo on pretty much anything that stood still. Besides its endless run of television and radio advertisements, the daily fantasy sports giant also sponsored six major esports teams.
Well, that was then and this is now. This week, DraftKings announced that it is cancelling its deals with Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, compLexity Gaming, mouseports and SK Gaming. In a statement the DailyDot (the website that originally broke the story) a DraftKings spokesperson offered this in the way of an explanation:
Our partnerships in the growing eSports field have been rewarding and we value our continued relationships with these businesses. We remain committed to offering exciting eSports DFS contests through the DraftKings platform and will continue to explore opportunities accordingly.
Though DraftKings obviously valued its, “rewarding,” relationship with its eSports roster, the company clearly needs every dime it can scrape up to pay for a myriad of life and death legal battles with practically every state in the United States.
While the downfall of US-facing daily fantasy sports has been bad news for the industry’s leaders, DraftKings and FanDuel, it may be even worse for esports sites. Several industry leaders, including Vulcan and AlphaDraft, have altered their business models dramatically in the hopes of staying ahead of a wave of anti-DFS legislation in the United States. (AlpaDraft, it should be noted, was acquired by FanDuel late in 2015.)
As of this writing, DraftKings has made no mention about whether or not it plans to re-enter the esports business at some point down the road.