Celebrity Esports, a UK-based business that organised gaming tournaments featuring celebrities, has entered liquidation.
This means the company is closing down and its assets are being sold in order to pay those who it owes money to. Companies House documents show that Celebrity Esports has estimated total debts of just under £370,000.
Celebrity Esports was founded in March 2020 by Leo Skagerlind, an entrepreneur who was previously the PA for investor and former Dragon’s Den panellist Richard Farleigh.
Leo, who has been involved in other businesses including home care firm Access Care and 2 Degrees of Separation, which connects businesses and investors, brought Richard Farleigh on board as chairman of Celebrity Esports.
Last year, Celebrity Esports held the NHS Charities Together Cup, a celebrity gaming tournament that hoped to raise £10m (with the ‘ultimate goal’ being £100m) for the NHS.
The charity tournament attracted a host of celebrities, including John Terry, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Joleon Lescott, Leah Williamson, Ben Shephard, Chris Kamara, Paddy McGuinness and others taking part, and secured the likes of Lynx Gaming and BP as sponsors.
Celebrity Esports claimed it raised £500,000 for NHS Charities Together.
However, a spokesperson for NHS Charities Together told Esports News UK: “The fundraising page for the initiative shows it raised £16,500 for our appeal and we are liaising with the organisers to finalise that donation.
“We are always grateful for donations which help us to continue to support NHS patients and staff across the UK at the most challenging time in the history of the NHS.”
Esports News UK understands some of the celebrities received a new PS4 and the hosts received a Hyper X broadcast mic for taking part. And for Celebrity Esports’ 2021 initiative, the Superstar League, Leo said those taking part would get to keep all the equipment including Sony headsets, mobile phones and clothing.
The Superstar League was billed as a franchise-like league that had slots for sponsors to buy into and have their own celeb teams taking part.
Celebrity Esports initially promised a £1m prize fund (with each player taking home their share of the pot), seven episodes and eight branded teams for the league, with one fan and two celebrities in each team, and said the tournament would raise the profile of mental health awareness by promoting the CALM charity.
Celebrity Esports claimed to those buying in to the league that esports is a booming $160bn industry, however this figure seems to focused on the global video games market (which includes console and game sales). This year’s Newzoo esports figures state that global esports-specific revenues will grow to just over $1bn in 2021.
The company also claimed its NHS Charities Together Cup received more than 2m video views.
Esports News UK understands that Celebrity Esports offered headline partner rights for £1m, team ownership for £300,000 and other partners to get involved for £50,000 each.
The Superstar League attracted big partners including Yodel, Now TV, Grenade, Primark and Boost, which had their own esports-style team names.
The six teams that eventually took part in the Superstar League included the Now Ninjas, CES Gorillas, Primark Legends, Grenade Squadron, Falcons and Beast Mode On team.
Celebrities involved in the tournament included Jimmy Carr, Joel Dommett, Nas Majeed, Chris Hughes, Kem Cetinay, Bayo Akinfenwa, Jack Bean, James McVey, Shaughna Phillips, Tony Bellew, Chris Hughes, Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely of Diversity, Eman SV2 and Chelcee Grimes. Tom Deacon was on board as host for the event.
The Celebrity Esports social pages – which amassed a few thousand followers – haven’t been updated since late May. The most recent video on the Celebrity Esports YouTube channel was published on June 4th 2021, featuring highlights from episode one of the Superstar League, which was filmed at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London and saw celebrities playing Dirt 5 against each other. The second episode was due to air in late June, but hasn’t materialised. The Celebrity Esports website also went down earlier this month.
Leo Skagerlind previously admitted he was “a complete outsider” to esports, but came up with the idea of celebrities gaming against one another while playing FIFA with his son at the start of lockdown.
“I’m never nervous about entering a new sector,” he told Real Business. “I had the privilege to work for ex Dragons’ Den judge, Richard Farleigh, for a number of years, and he taught me about confidence and how to enter new and expanding markets.
“My other half is on the NHS frontline, so I see the amazing work they’re doing and the challenges they face every day. This [NHS Charities Together Cup] tournament is my little bit to try to help her, her colleagues and the NHS.”
Leo previously said he had plans to ‘diversify into other esports including Wii Tennis or golf’, and told Esports Insider he hoped that Celebrity Esports would boost the popularity of esports.
We have reached out to Leo Skagerlind for comment and will update this article if we hear back.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.