Esports OGs know Team Dignitas to be one of the most prolific organisations of all time. Originally established way back in 2003 by Michael “ODEE” O’Dell as a Battlefield 1942 team, it quickly became one of the most recognisable brands in European esports. Dignitas’ forte came about because it did not try and challenge the behemoths of the time, such as Meet Your Makers (MYM) and SK Gaming in the biggest esports titles of the time, such as WarCraft III, Counter-Strike 1.6 or Quake 3 Arena, but focused more on smaller, burgeoning titles, that had smaller, but passionate communities. The best of the best in titles such as Call of Duty, Enemy Territory, Trackmania, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Source and Battlefield and Command & Conquer 3.
In 2007, the Championship Gaming Series took ODEE away from Dignitas, and into the first franchised esports league in the world. ODEE would transfer other talent from Dignitas to his new team, Birmingham Salvo along the way, but the CGS did not survive past the two-season mark, and ODEE was back at the helm of Dignitas.
Slowly, Dignitas made headway into the ‘big boys club’, becoming a main contender in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, replacing their British team with a tier 2 Danish team, an offshoot of which is today known as Astralis – the best Counter-Strike team in the world. Dignitas tried numerous other CS teams in its lifetime, including another Danish team, which eventually moved to the Danish organisation North, the esports organisation affiliated with Copenhagen F.C.
However, Dignitas never managed to retain a team long enough for it to become associated with the brand. At the same time, Dignitas’ other flagship squad, League of Legends faced its toughest challenge yet. Dignitas’ popular League of Legends roster competed in North America, far from Dignitas’ Birmingham headquarters. In 2017, the main league around competitive League of Legends was overhauled, leading to franchising of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). Team Dignitas’ franchise application was denied, and the brand was left out of the biggest league and the biggest game in esports.
Fortunes changes for Team Dignitas, as in September 2016, the organisation was purchased by the renowned Philadelphia 76ers, the American Basketball team, and becoming part of the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment group of companies, which also included the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. The Philadelphia 76ers followed in the footsteps of other traditional sports teams venturing into esports, including the likes of FC Schalke 04, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germaine, West Ham, and Wolfsburg, but out of all the ones mentioned, it was the first sports team from North America to venture into esports territory.
Dignitas’ acquisition of Clutch Gaming with a reported investment of $20 million marked the glorious return of a beloved brand into the League of Legends competitive circuit, new Chief Executive Officer Michael Prindiville took over from the original founder Michael O’Dell, who moved to fresher pastures in one of only two European Call of Duty League franchise, the London Royal Ravens. Dignitas’ rebrand, moving away from the decades-old alien visage logo retained the black and yellow colours synonymous with the brand but marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a whole new chapter for Dignitas, which would now be run from the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
The re-entry of Dignitas into the LCS was only the first of big and bold moves by the new leadership. 2021 is clearly the year of Counter-Strike for Dignitas, as they have just announced a new lineup, which, although not unexpected, has thunderous ramifications to the competitive circuit.
Dignitas’ new squad is born from the ashes of that formerly belonging to Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP). NiP is an esports brand defined by Counter-Strike – a brand also revived by the latest iteration in the franchise: Global Offensive.
The storied Swedish super team dominated the early days of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and it was only until recently that changes needed to be made in order to remain at the top of the game. What this means now is that some of the most successful Counter-Strike players of all time, such as Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg and Christopher “GeT_RighT” Alesund are now flying the black and yellow banner.
It remains to be seen whether the Swedes will gel well with the Norwegian rookie, and whether they can keep up with the new generation of Counter-Strike stars, such as Zywoo and S1mple.
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