Gaming for Dollars

Thumb thumpers of the world rejoice! Major League Gaming just scored $25 million in VC funding from Oak Investment Partners.

MLG is exactly what it sounds like: An organized league and sanctioning body for professional gamers. It even has nationally-televised “circuit” events, and held a $100,000 championship last month in Las Vegas. Sound ridiculous? Yup. Sound like it’s going to succeed? Yup squared.

The New York-based company was founded in 2003, but didn’t take institutional funding until Ritchie Capital led a $10 million round earlier this year. At around the same time, MLG moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan and named Matthew Bromberg as its president and COO.

Bromberg previously had been with Time Warner as general manager of Moviefone and then AOL Games. He also had been discussing various opportunities with Oak Investment Partners, which began following MLG’s progress once Bromberg signed on.

Ifty Ahmed, a general partner with Oak, says that he was intrigued by what he saw as a service-oriented alternative to the crowded gaming space, which often is viewed by VCs as too hits-driven. “We looked at the entire gaming ecosystem, and tried to find areas where we could leverage the activity, but remain agnostic to the content, agnostic to the channel and agnostic to the platform,” Ahmed explains. “We think about MLG as a new form of media company, with elements of service, technology and merchandising… The grand vision is to become the NASCAR of online gaming.”

logo[1].jpgHe adds that professional gaming leagues already have taken hold in parts of Asia –albeit more console-driven than online — and doesn’t see any reason why that success can’t translate in the U.S. or in Europe. Moreover, it even is able to create a pro eeder program for, by operating a robust website enjoyed by thousands of amateurs.

MLG does not need additional venture capital funding under its current business plan, although obviously reserves the right to raise some if the right opportunity comes along. Ed Glassmeyer of Oak has taken a seat on the MLG board, with Ritchie Capital’s Tom Crowley also continuing to serve.

The company declined to comment on the funding, which it originally disclosed in a regulatory filing with the SEC.