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ESL founder forms $19.6m Esports VC fund

Bitkraft Esports Ventures is based in Berlin and Los Angeles and will invest $110,000 - $436,000 in pro-gaming start-ups

A dedicated Esports fund has raised €18m (£19.6m) to invest in start-ups.

Bitkraft Esports Ventures will invest between €100,000 - €400,000 ($110,000 - $436,000) in new businesses. The firm hopes to raise €30m ($32.7m) by the time it has closed. It believes this is the world's first fund dedicated to esports.

The team is led by ESL founder Jens Hilgers, and also includes Markus Fuhrmann (co-founder of Delivery Hero) and Minard Hamilton (who held roles at EA Mobile, ESPN and Activision). It is based in Berlin and LA.

Bitkraft has actually been around since March 2016, and has already backed ten esports companies including Boom,tv, and Dojo Madness. It plans to add another four companies to its portfolio in 2017.

"This fund is the culmination of building and scaling esports and creating outstanding services and products that increase enjoyment for both players and fans," Hilgers wrote in a statement. "This fund is also about living my passion and creating a platform to support those who share this dream and have the drive to create intrinsic value in esports. Everyone involved in Bitkraft has had outstanding entrepreneurial success in esports or closely related industries. I am very excited about the talent that our group brings to the table for the startups and entrepreneurs we support."

Bitkraft's investment partners include Sumit Gupta, Fabrice Grinda, Hany Nada, Rick Thompson, MTG, Segerstrale Family Trust, aXiomatic Group, Bertelsmann's BDMI and Inner Circle Sports LLC.

"With its seasoned investment team who bring a mix of expertise across technology, media, and games, as well as deepest possible esports experience, Bitkraft is incredibly well positioned as an accelerator and fund to support this rapidly emerging ecosystem," commented investor and Super Evil Megacorp CEO Kristian Segerstrale.

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Christopher Dring

Head of Games B2B

Chris is a 17-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who