North to cease operations
The Danish organisation is leaving esports after just four years.
Danish organisation North, the esports affiliate of football club F.C. Copenhagen and entertainment company Nordisk Film, announced on Friday that it will fold immediately.
In a joint statement, Parken Sport & Entertainment - the company that operates F.C. Copenhagen - and Nordisk Film cited the coronavirus pandemic's effects on the esports industry in their explanation for ceasing their investment in the organisation.
"We are of course sorry that we now have to close the Danish-based esports company North, which has left a nice mark on international esports," Lars Bo Jeppesen, chairman of North and director of Parken Sport & Entertainment, said.
"We have searched the market to get one or more co-investors on board, but have unfortunately not found the right match. It would require significant continued investment to create a sustainable business in the future and therefore we believe that the sole responsibility for our overall business is to focus all our focus on our core business in FC Copenhagen, Parken and Lalandia, just as Nordisk Film will focus on its large core and growth businesses."
North entered esports in January 2017 with the signing of the ex-Dignitas roster, which had won EPICENTER and climbed to No.2 in the world rankings a few months earlier. The team struggled to replicate the same results under the new organisation, though they reached two Big Event finals in their first year, at the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals and DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017.
In February 2018, North made a splash by bringing in ELEAGUE Major 2017 MVP Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye from rivals Astralis. Later that year, the team captured a surprising title at DreamHack Masters Stockholm - the only Big Event trophy that they would be able to win as results continued to fall short of expectations.
North announced a change in direction in November 2020 as they laid out an "economically sustainable strategy" focused on identifying and nurturing young players from the Nordic region. Kristoffer "Kristou" Aamand was recalled from his loan with AGF, while Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen and Philip "aizy" Aistrup, two of the team's most experienced players, were made available for transfer. The organisation also announced plans to rework the salary structure to ensure the sustainability of the business.
Last month, North completed their roster with the signing of free agent Denis "grux" Gutaj, formerly of SMASH. The Swedish player was due to make his debut for the team next week, in European Development Championship 2.
René "cajunb" Borg and Kristou were the first team members to react to the news on Twitter. Both players confirmed that they have been allowed to look for other options and expressed their wish to continue competing.
"Although I am sad about the news with North, I am also motivated to prove that I have what it takes to compete at the highest level," said cajunb, who played for North for over two years across two spells. "I have experience, discipline and great spirit."
North had the following team:
Jimmy "Jumpy" Berndtsson (coach)