Game studio Unagi raises $5 million to expand Ultimate Champions and move beyond sports

Quick Take

  • Blockchain game developer Unagi raised $5 million in a round led by Sisu Game Ventures.
  • Unagi has secured over 45 partnerships for its Ultimate Champions football game.

Web3 gaming studio Unagi secured $5 million in a seed round led by Sisu Game Ventures.

The raise, which closed at the start of this year, comes only months after the startup secured $4.2 million from Binance Labs. The total amount raised by Unagi is $12.3 million.

Investors in the seed round also include Sfermion, Signum Capital and 2B Ventures, the company said in a statement. The new raise doubled the startup's valuation, the company said without disclosing it. 

Founded in 2021, Unagi made a name for itself with the launch of its Ultimate Champions game, which is a free-to-play fantasy football game that's reminiscent of old school football collectible card games from brands such as Topps or Panini. Unagi's co-founders and co-CEOs, Remi Pellerin and Charlie Guillemot, are veterans of gaming studio Ubisoft.

Guillemot is the son of Yves Guillemot, the CEO and co-founder of Ubisoft and one of Unagi's angel investors.

"We decided to go into fantasy sports gaming because it's a relatively short time to produce such a game," Guillemot said. "And we felt that going to the market quite quickly was a good idea to really get our hands dirty with all the blockchain elements, all the tokenomics."

Ultimate Champions marketplace

Ultimate Champions marketplace screenshot from Unagi

Scoring deals

Unagi has secured over 45 partnerships for Ultimate Champions including a long-term partnership with Arsenal, which is both a licensing and sponsorship deal.

"We also showed them the game and the accessibility that we tried to put in the game so that anyone could start playing without having any background in blockchain, without knowing what is an NFT," Guillemot said. "I think that's what helped a lot for us to become partners with Arsenal."

Despite having a core focus on accessibility, the team has still been surprised with the number of non web3 people playing the game, Guillemot said.

"We see that they they're interested in the game because it's fun first and not because it's a web3 game," he added.

More than sports

The startup will also be rolling out a basketball version of Ultimate Champions through a partnership deal with EuroLeague Basketball in March. The game is now multichain, having launched on Polygon last year and on BNB chain a few weeks ago, he added.

With the new funds, Unagi is looking to almost double its team size from 25 people to 40, secure new partnerships and increase its marketing efforts. This recent fundraising round was mostly equity, compared to the prior round with Binance, which was a token round, Guillemot said.

"The ambition for the game studio  is really to offer free web3 experiences that allows anyone on the planet to obtain their first NFTs and their first tokens for free," Guillemot said.  "We don't want to limit ourselves to sports, and that's why we're going to start, now that we've accumulated a bit of experience on those two games, to work on new NFT experiences and on new web3 games that are not necessarily related to sports."

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