UK esports organisation Semper Fortis Esports PLC have announced their entry into Hearthstone and NFT video game Axie Infinity.
The company’s esports team, SMPR, have signed Russian player Aleksei ‘Iner’ Bakumenko to compete in both games for the upcoming season.
The player has signed a three-month contract with an option to renew for an additional six months thereafter. Iner will also receive an annual salary and performance-based incentives.
The new hire is the first competitive esports players competing in the ‘play-to-earn’ division of Semper Fortis Esports, where players will be incentivised to compete on behalf of the company for cryptocurrency-based returns in the form of NFTs.
Hearthstone is of course Blizzard Entertainment’s collectible turn-based digital card game, while Axie Infinity is a trading and battling game that allows players to collect and battle creatures known as ‘Axies’, which are digitised as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
An NFT is a unique digital asset (usually an image or a piece of digital art) stored on a blockchain, and can be bought, owned and re-sold.
Axie Infinity uses a play-to-earn model where participants can earn a token which is traded on Binance, as an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency. Players can also exchange in-game assets as NFTs, and cash-out tokens for monetary gains every 14 days.
In October 2021, Axie’s Vietnamese developer Sky Mavis raised $150m Series B at a $3bn valuation with investors involved including Andreessen Horowitz and Mark Cuban. As of October 2021, the game claims to have almost 2m daily active users and $2.3bn in total sales volume since it was launched in 2018.
With this move, Semper hopes to further focus on NFT-based rewards through games as a revenue model going forward. Axie tokens are currently trading at circa $120, around 1,200 times their initial offer price from 2020.
Iner is currently ranked ninth in Hearthstone EMEA and comes with a digital footprint of almost 75,000 followers across social media channels, comprising 1,475 followers on Twitter, 68,200 followers on Twitch and 4,770 subscribers on YouTube.
Iner’s addition takes the total number of active players on the SMPR roster across to nine. Semper Fortis first moved into Rocket League after signing UK team Top Blokes, and recently Semper moved into FIFA.
Kevin Soltani, CEO of Semper Fortis Esports, commented: “Our team is extremely proud to share the additions of Axie Infinity and Hearthstone to our esports games participation and to further strengthen our player roster.
“Semper Fortis is determined to revolutionise the play to earn space, in merging it with competitive esports play. Our latest signing will pioneer our strategy to build out the SMPR play-to-earn division, opening doors for a new pool of players entering the esports space and diversifying the company’s revenue model.”
Nolan Bushnell, non-executive director at Semper Fortis Esports, added: “The play-to-earn movement is currently in rapid growth and we are very excited to see its evolving nature in the world of competitive esports.”
Other UK esports NFT/crypto news
- Endpoint CeX become first UK esports team to launch a blockchain fan token
- Fnatic announces new crypto partner and shirt sponsor in multi-year deal worth more than £10m, with NFTs on the way
- LDN UTD launches design-your-own NFT initiative for young people supported by the Rio Ferdinand Foundation
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, 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.