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The Philadelphia 76ers became the first US team to buy an e-sports organization


The Philadelphia 76ers made history on Monday, but it had nothing to do with basketball.

The NBA team bought Dignitas and Apex, two e-sports organizations that boast competitive teams in a number of video games, including League of Legends, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

<b>ESPN reports</b> the 76ers paid between $5 million and $15 million for the teams, which it will combine under the Dignitas brand.

Let's break down this deal.

League of Legends stadium.jpg
In this Aug. 20, 2016 photo, close to 5,000 fans watch the 2016 Coca-Cola League of Legend Summer Final match between Rox Tigers and KT Rolster at Jamsil gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea started the e-sports industry in the early 2000s, and it continues to be a world leader in competitive gaming. There are not only professional video game players, but also broadcasting channels and professional leagues for different kinds of games. South Koreans can easily watch professional gamers playing on both television and the internet. (AP Photo/Jungho Choi)

What even are e-sports?

Professional competitive video gaming. It's been around for years -- and it fills stadiums (that photo above is from Korea's summer finals for League of Legends).

<b>Dignitas</b> is one of the oldest e-sports organizations, with pro teams in multiple games.

How does one team play multiple games?

This is one key difference from traditional sports. E-sports organizations often combine teams in multiple video games under one umbrella organization. So there's a Team Dignitas in Counter-Strike, Overwatch, and (until recently) League of Legends, among other games. They're all part of the same parent company, and they boast entirely separate rosters.

Dignitas and Apex are best known for their presence in the world's most popular e-sport, League of Legends.

You mentioned another team earlier?

This part gets tricky. In North America, the predominant League of Legends league is the NALCS, or North American League of Legends Championship Series. Only 10 teams play in the NALCS at any time, and the three worst teams each season compete with minor-league teams for their spot.

Dignitas lost its spot after last spring's season. Apex qualified last fall. Dignitas is more widely known, so the 76ers combined Apex's players with Dignitas's brand.

$5 million is a lot of money. Are e-sports that big a deal?

Yes. It's forecast to be a $2 billion industry by 2018, <b>VentureBeat reports</b>. Top players can earn six figures, <b>according to Kotaku</b>.

If you want a taste of how big this is, League of Legends' <b>world championships start Thursday night </b>and run through October 9. All games are aired on <b>Twitch.tv</b> or in the Staples Center if you're in the Los Angeles area (and yes, that arena will be full).

Shaquille ONeal.jpg
Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O'Neal speaks during induction ceremonies at Symphony Hall, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Who else is on it?

A lot of basketball players, including former Lakers Rick Fox, who owns the <b>Echo Fox team</b>, and Shaquille O'Neal, who <b>invested in NRG Esports</b>.

TSM vs Cloud 9 | Game 4 Grand Finals S6 NA LCS Summer 2016 PlayOffs | TSM vs C9 G4 1080p

WATCH: If you want some solid context, here's the final game of the NALCS summer finals between Team SoloMid and Cloud9, who will both compete in the world championships. 

As you can imagine, this former Apex player (now Dignitas player) is elated.

E-sports have often fought to be perceived as a non-gimmick. 

The 76ers' purchase adds some legitimacy to a booming industry and sport.

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