Image via Ubisoft
DarkZero Esports’ "silent investing partner" and other founding member has been revealed as Scott Duncan, according to public documents and a DarkZero spokesperson.
A 2018 article about DarkZero from the Houston Press references a "silent investing partner" along with Matula. SiegeGG acquired public tax documents filed in the state of Texas through a public records request, and found a "Scott Duncan" that is listed as a "member" on DarkZero’s 2019 and 2020 PIR (Texas Franchise Tax Public Information Report) documents alongside the company’s public-facing, former CEO: Zachary Matula. A "member" listed in documents relating to an LLC is an owner of said LLC, according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed the “Scott Duncan” listed is the son of departed Texas oil pipeline mogul Dan Duncan, and a Forbes 500 member. Upon being presented with this information, a DarkZero spokesperson confirmed that Scott Duncan is, in fact, one of DarkZero’s founders, and the referenced silent investor.
Elements of DarkZero's PIR reports have been edited by SiegeGG to redact personal information.
In an email to SiegeGG, the “ultra private” Duncan stated that he currently sits on the team’s board of directors, and is a founder: "I view my role as strategic in nature and I like to let our leaders handle the running of the business."
Duncan’s role in DarkZero's founding was described as not necessarily being “hidden” but rather not advertised. Both Duncan and Matula declined to answer what other ventures they are involved in.
After his father’s passing in 2010, Scott Duncan inherited part of a $10 billion estate along with his three siblings. According to Forbes, Scott Duncan was worth a staggering $6.4 billion as of January 12, 2022.
In the U.S. state of Texas, the name “Duncan” is synonymous with the Houston oil business and oil pipeline management across the state — even if Scott Duncan, the individual, has no public ties to the industry. Dan Duncan, Scott’s father, founded and operated Enterprise Products, a profoundly successful "midstream" gas and oil pipeline company, from its inception in 1968 until his death. According to Matula, he and Scott Duncan met while both working at Enterprise Products in the aughts.
In 2021, DarkZero expanded its reach from only Rainbow Six Siege to Riot Games’ new, wildly popular FPS title VALORANT with the acquisition of the "Kooky Koalas" roster. Recently, they’ve also signed Rainbow Six legend Niclas "Pengu" Mouritzen as a content creator. When asked about the other games DarkZero is keeping tabs on, Duncan responded with "Halo, Apex Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch 2."
"I believe we will continue to see overly aggressive and under-capitalized ventures struggle which is why we have historically taken a measured investment approach at DarkZero," said Duncan. "One of the major issues I saw when looking at the esports industry was an overreliance on venture capital which leads to short-term profit-seeking behavior and forced growth. Given our financial stability and approach, we are able to take swings at the right times, giving us the best potential to grow without that financial pressure."
Currently, DarkZero resides in a multi-million dollar compound in Las Vegas after parting ways with their million dollar Houston home/office, and has an official partnership with Resorts World Las Vegas.
Matula and Duncan met early on in life, and have remained friends over decades. The decision to invest into DarkZero hinged on two things, according to Matula: an “early 2018” conversation over sushi that featured a Goldman Sachs report about the esports space, and a video of then-professional player George "KingGeorge" Kassa ranting about a team not shelling out the cash to provide his team with a team house.
"We decided right then and there to explore an opportunity in esports from the perspective of ethical and fair treatment of our players and with the mantra of ‘promises delivered’," said Matula.
The rest is history. DarkZero acquired the former Flipsid3 and SK Gaming roster, and have been a large part of the Rainbow Six Siege ecosystem ever since.
Duncan isn’t the only high profile figure to invest in Rainbow Six esports. Last year, Manchester United’s David de Gea and Jesse Lingard invested in the game’s esports scene with national-level rosters in Europe. Teams with international profiles and deep pockets like Team Liquid, TSMFTX, FaZe Clan, and Natus Vincere are invested in the space. The fingerprints of high profile individuals are all over the scene — the Kraft Group recently partnered with NAL license-holder Oxygen Esports. Over the years, the scene has grown considerably.
Rainbow Six Siege, the esport, is no longer in its days of infancy. The forces that propel the game forward, especially in the days after the Global Circuit was established, have deep pockets comparable with other esports ecosystems of significantly bigger size.