North Esports Announces Shut Down Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
Danish esports team North, funded by the owners of FC Copenhagen, have announced that they will be shutting down due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, their CSGO team and Apex Legends players are now free agents, while the FIFA squad will transfer ownership to the FC Copenhagen organization. The release notes that North’s activities will be discontinued on an “ongoing basis” over the next while, so it’s unclear exactly when each person will be departing the organization, or if they will be attempting to rehome their employees and players before closing up shop.
At the time of writing, North CSGO consisted of: Nicklas Gade, Rene “cajunb” Borg, Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson, Kistoffer “kirstou” Aammand, Denis “grux” Gutaj, Jimmy “Jumpy” Berndstsson, as well as Philip “aizy” Aistrup and Mathias “MSL” Sommer Lauridsen who were on the team’s inactive list before this move. Grux was only just signed in January, so this move seems to have come as a surprise to North’s more esports oriented management.
Over the course of the CSGO team’s existence, they racked up over $1 million in prize winnings, with their most impressive results coming from a number of Dreamhack events, with wins at Dreamhack Masters Stockholm 2018 (over Astralis, who were dominant at the time), and a smattering of other smaller Dreamhack wins. They did not transition well to the online era, with no finishes above a couple of 2nd place finishes in qualifiers in 2020, and its possible that this lack of success led to the decision in combination with the pandemic itself.
Why Are North Closing Their Doors?
The Coronavirus pandemic has left a permanent stain on the esports scene, with not only several tournaments being forced to switch to an online format, but also several teams finding many of their usual revenue streams and fan engagement opportunities having dried up. It seems that this was at the core of North’s decision to shut down.
“We are of course sorry that we now have to close the Danish-based esports company North, which has left a nice mark on international esports,” says Lars Bo Jeppesen, chairman of North and director of Parken Sport & Entertainment. “We have searched the market to get one or more co-investors on board the project, but have unfortunately not found the right match. It will require significant continued investment to create a sustainable business in the future and therefore we believe that the sole responsibility for our overall business is to focus all our focus on our core business in FC Copenhagen, Parken and Lalandia, just as Nordisk Film will focus on its large core and growth businesses. ”
Indeed, as North operated out of Copenhagen FC’s stadium for training purposes as well as fan engagement, the lack of being able to do so because of Covid-19 hamstrung the team, as well as impacted their performance.
“It is still uncertain when a reopening after Covid-19 is realistic, so we can get customers back. There is still potential in e-sports and gaming, but the time horizon is long and uncertain, and Covid-19 has moved the time horizon further years into the future according to our assessment, as both esports and the sports industry as a whole have been hit hard financially, “says Lars Bo Jeppesen.
It’s unclear where the players and staff of North will end up in esports following the shut down, but there have been outpourings of support from various key players from around the industry, so it’s likely that many of their talented staff will be picked up soon.