5 min read

Issue 26: Money pouring in, more league activities, a drop gone wrong

Issue 26: Money pouring in, more league activities, a drop gone wrong

Here's your weekly review on what happened at the intersection of NFTs and Sports:

  • 🤑 Sorare and Dapper Labs with mega rounds
  • 👾 League activities from Drone Racing, ELF and ISL
  • 🏀 Basketball NFTs from the Sixers and John Wall

Let's have a closer look! 👀

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🤑 Sorare and Dapper Labs with mega rounds

What a week it was! Both Sorare and Dapper Labs announced big investment rounds and incredible valuations. Sorare kicked things off with a $680m round at a $4.3b valuation led by SoftBank's Vision 2 fund. This marks the highest-ever Series B round in Europe. And just one day later it was Dapper Labs who announced a $250m round at a $7.6b valuation led by Coatue Ventures. So what does this mean for the space? Well, we shall see... So far Sorare and Dapper are relatively free of overlaps, mainly because Sorare's focus on digital player cards while Dapper goes for highlight clips. So far Sorare is only targeting the football industry, but it became clear that they want to expand into other sports as well. Dapper, with a focus on basketball, but deals with UFC and LaLiga already in the pipeline, will also expand further. So we're expecting a clash at some point, the exact place shall be seen. One thing is clear though: Those two heavy weights are leading the pack and are now equipped with enough cash to secure the so important licenses. The third party that will join the race will be Fanatics who recently signed contracts for collectibles with the big American leagues. Exciting times with lots of money involved!

👾 League activities from Drone Racing, ELF and ISL

But also some other leagues are getting active, aside from the big platforms:

Drone Racing League partners with blockchain platform Algorand in a $100m deal over five years. The deal includes "blockchain-enabled ticketing services, fan transactions, collectibles and NFTs" on the Algorand platform. No other details were revealed.

Source: Drone Racing League, Algorand

At the end of its inaugural season the European League of Football has launched their genesis NFT collection. While the items themselves pretty much follow well known mechanisms with multiple tiers, the interesting part is that the ELF uses Shopify's NFT platform that is supposed to make it easy for everyone to publish NFT collections. Let's see if they can write a similar success story as with their core ecommerce platform.

Source: European League of Football

And then there's the Indian Super League who partnered with London-based Terra Virtua to launch digital collectibles of its 11 clubs. In the mix are memorable moments, player cards and in-match highlights since 2014, all being sold on Terra Virtua’s marketplace. The platform is in public beta and had secured various collaborations across the entertainment sector. ISL however seems to be the first sports-related endeavour.

Source: ISL, Terra Virtua

🏀 Basketball NFTs from the Sixers and John Wall

Ahead of the new season we have some news from the NBA. Well, not from the league itself but from a team and a player.

The Philadelphia 76ers have secured a jersey patch partnership with crypto.com that includes "special NFTs on Crypto.com’s platform in conjunction with their new city edition jersey that will debut in November". The multiyear deal is supposedly worth eight figures annually, and is a top-five jersey patch deal in the NBA.

Source: 76ers, crypto.com

And then there was current free agent John Wall with his NFT collection "Baby Ballers" and another good example of how not do approach a drop. For context: Wall announced the collection with the goal to raise awareness for youth sports and promised to raise $100k for charitable causes. To be precise: For his own foundation. However, this got roasted on twitter and other channels for two big reasons:

  1. The team used background graphics from Fortnite and the Baby Ballers look very similar to Boss Baby, both not being the finest ways to approach such a project
  2. Ball is selling 4,000 Baby Ballers for 0.15 Eth each, which is around $460 or in total $1.84m. So the question arises: Why only donate $100k of it? The project was quickly marked as "another celebrity cash grab"

The launch of the collection is September 30, we're curious to see if all Baby Ballers will be sold. These days everything is possible in the NFT space.

Source: Baby Ballers

🤓 Wrapping it up

So what have we learned in this issue?

  • NFTs are here to stay. We anyways believed so, but the latest mega rounds and combined $10b+ valuations of Sorare and Dapper Labs show that how big of a topic this is for some of the prime investors on this planet. After previous and ongoing battles in the content, fantasy and gambling space this seems to be the new playground. Speaking of gambling, chances are that the leading NFT platforms will also try to enter this area at some point, as they have access to a big audience and their wallets
  • Different leagues, different platforms. While the "big ones" fight over the most lucrative licences, there's still room for smaller platforms to work with smaller leagues. What this will lead to in the long term and if they have a chance to survive we shall see. Our bet: We'll see a consolidation at some point, where smaller platforms will purely be acquired for the licenses they have secured
  • Celebrity cash grabs have been and still are a big topic in the NFT world. Luckily the community gets better and better in pointing them out, as they all follow similar mechanisms. But unfortunately they can also create a bad impression for this young space, potentially spreading doubts and mistrust. A big name is definitely not a guarantee for a good NFT drop, so be careful what you support.

That's it for this weeks issue! And as always: Feel free to reach out for feedback and to discuss all things NFT and sports! And to stay up to date: Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for stats, drop announcements and more. And join us on our Discord server to discuss the latest news and insights about NFTs in sports.