Tag Archives: esports

Completion Of Unikrn Deal Underpins Entain’s Launch Into Esports Wagering In 2022

Entain, the leading global sports betting, gaming, and interactive entertainment operator, has completed its acquisition of the assets of Unikrn, a leader in esports betting and skill-based wagering. The deal paves the way for Entain to launch innovative new esports products for customers in 2022.

Entain has bought the technology, products, platform, and brand from Unikrn which, together with its 50-strong international team, will spearhead its launch on a global scale.  Justin Dellario, who recently joined Entain from Twitch as Managing Director of Esports, is leading the push into this new market as part of a greater drive into interactive entertainment. 

Unikrn is known for a suite of products and services, including U-Mode, which stands out in the market for enabling gamers to bet on their own ranked matches in some of the world’s most competitive video game titles, and Streamer Bet, their AI-powered real-time updating odds for betting on Twitch streams.

“Entain is all about creating exciting and innovative products for our customers. With Unikrn, we’ll now be able to offer competitive gamers and esports fans alike rewarding experiences surrounding the games and events they love,” Justin Dellario said.

Esports is now established as a mainstream sport, with over 450 million gamers aged 18-35.   Entain believes that many of these have strong potential to become new customers in other areas of its business, recently noting that video gamers are more than four times more likely to participate in sports-betting and iGaming than others in the same demographic.

Entain will extend its safer gaming initiatives and player protections to new customers across skills-based wagering in sports, and interactive entertainment products. Through its not-for-profit Entain Foundation, The Group has also forged partnerships with external organisations to provide education and support to players at potential risk of gaming disorder. These include the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association, which represents professional players across esports, Kindbridge and Rise Above the Disorder.

Electronic Gaming Federation To Launch Season Three With New Titles and Over 100 Teams

The Electronic Gaming Federation, the national governing body for formalized collegiate D-I esports and high school level leagues, today announced their most comprehensive lineup for both games and participating schools in the organizations three year history. The season three of EGF will have participation from over 100 teams representing 60 colleges and universities from across the country,  as well as full participation from both the MAAC and BIG EAST Conferences returning. EGF will run leagues for Rocket League, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and FIFA 21 as well as adding CS:GO and Chess to their growing list of supported titles. Play begins on Friday October 8 with live streams being broadcast on twitch.tv/officialegf..

“Our goal with season three was to continue to bring uniformity, consistency and a continued raised quality of play to EGF events, and we see by the increased number of schools, increased games and expanded and inclusive format we can say mission accomplished,”  said Tyler Schrodt Founder of the Electronic Gaming Federation. “Most importantly this fall will set the tone for aggressive and calculated expansion into the winter and spring, with our goal of having the largest, most comprehensive Division I esports competition in place well ahead of our five year goal.”

In addition, the organization will also begin its expansive high school program, EGFH, with 600 teams concluding with a National Championship to be played in-person at ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in June. 

New schools for the fall include:  Iona College, Bowling Green State University, University of Montana, University of South Alabama, and Washington State University for this fall, with over 100 schools expected to compete in EGF events this coming spring as well.

Electronic Gaming Federation, Special Olympics New Jersey Form First-Ever Unified Esports Program

The Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF), the national governing body for formalized collegiate D-I esports and high school level leagues, today announced a new, first-ever expansive partnership with Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) to create EGFH Unified. Unified Sports® joins people with and without disabilities (known as Unified partners) on the same team promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. The first EGFH Unified season will be a 5-week competition featuring up to 50 high schools throughout the state  bringing all esports student-athletes into an interscholastic schedule of competition beginning with Rocket League this Spring and continuing with rolling competitions throughout the 2021-22 school year. 

“Creating impactful experiences for students has always been the core of why EGF was founded and it’s an honor to be able to work with the Special Olympics New Jersey to celebrate these athletes through esports, ” said Tyler Schrodt, EGF Founder. “Part of the magic of esports is its level of accessibility and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with SONJ to learn from their long history of impact through traditional sports to help develop these experiences for their community and recognize those athletes for their passion and their achievements. ”

“Special Olympics New Jersey is proud to partner and work with EGF on this very important program,” said Heather Andersen, President and CEO of Special Olympics New Jersey. “Esports competitions create shared experiences for our athletes and their partners in a unique way to empower their lives and social experiences. Being the first Special Olympics organization to run a Unified esports program is even more meaningful for us, and we look forward to sharing our experiences with others nationwide as this expands.”  

Each school will have at least one Unified team expected to participate in five weeks of regular competition, with a one week pre-season and four-week regular season. Schools will compete against teams from other schools in weekly online matches, beginning with Rocket League this Spring, with plans to extend the program to more schools and games in the future. The competition will culminate with a full championship on June 4th and 5th.

Electronic Gaming Federation Selects First-Ever Board of Governors

The Electronic Gaming Federation, the national governing body for formalized collegiate D-I esports and high school level leagues, today announced the election of its first Board of Governors for EGFC, EGF’s Division 1 esports governing body. 

“We have had tremendous success growing our position in the space in the past year, and being able to bring on this group of educators who are the center of gaming growth on college campuses is essential as we expand our reach in 2021,” EGF Founder Tyler Schrodt said. “The election of this Board is a tremendous milestone for the League and Division 1 esports and we’re so excited to work with such a remarkable group of people from our member schools to continue the development and advancement of collegiate esports”.

“I’m excited to join the Board of Governors and look forward to helping EGF continue its growth in the collegiate esports space,” said Steve Kramarck, of the University of Delaware.  “There are so many great elements already in place and I believe that the next few years will further establish EGF as a national leader in the industry.” 

“Thank you to the EGF for the selection, and I look forward to serve on the first EGF Board of Governors and am energized to grow the Esports program here at Marist as well as across the collegiate landscape,” added Julie Byron, Marist College. I look forward to working with both students and school administrators in the coming months to create a new and innovative gaming community.”

The Board of Governors will work directly with EGF on League policy and governance and furthering the initiatives important to the League like student development, diversity and inclusion, and a slate of other topics and projects. This group of seven is the first cohort of the board that will eventually include 21 representatives from member schools as the League continues to grow.

The following individuals were elected by their peers to serve on the Board for a three year term:

  • Courtney James, DePaul University
  • Michele King, William & Mary
  • Steve Kramarck, University of Delaware
  • David Tomczyk, Quinnipiac University
  • Nyle Sky Kauweloa, University of Hawaii
  • Julie Byron, Marist College
  • Bill Newton, Niagara University

Now in partnership with the new Board, EGF is will start the second half of EGFC Season 2 on February 1st with conference and national championships starting in March, 2021 across a wide range of games. 

BIG EAST Esports Partners With MAAC, Electronic Gaming Federation In Rocket League Competition

BIG EAST esports teams will play against opponents from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in a Rocket League tournament for bragging rights.

Participating teams for the BIG EAST are Butler, DePaul, Creighton, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Xavier. It will be Creighton’s debut appearance as part of BIG EAST Esports. Participating teams from the MAAC are Fairfield, Marist, Niagara, Quinnipiac and Siena.

Seeding is based on the current standings in the fall EGF Collegiate season which started Oct. 5. Marist and Fairfield from the MAAC take the top two seeds, respectively:

Competition is set to begin on Sunday, Dec. 13. The Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF) will be operating the event. Teams will compete in a best of five format, three vs. three. There are 11 games in the tournament with the first round starting at noon ET.  The top four seeds received a bye to the second round. The semifinals begin at 3 p.m. with the final at 4:30 p.m. The matches can be viewed on either Twitch.tv on either the OfficialEGF channel or the EGFrocketleague channel. Links are in the schedule below.

1 MAAC Marist
2 MAAC Fairfield
3 BIG EAST Xavier
4 BIG EAST Seton Hall
5 BIG EAST Butler
6 MAAC Quinnipiac
8 BIG EAST Marquette
9 MAAC Siena
10 BIG EAST St. John’s
11 MAAC Niagara
12 BIG EAST Creighton


Sunday, Dec. 13

Round 1

Game 1: No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 Siena, Noon (OfficialEGF)

Gm 2: No. 5 Butler vs. No. 12 Creighton, Noon (EGFrocketleague)

Gm 3: No. 7 DePaul vs. No. 10 St. John’s, 12:45 p.m. (OfficialEGF)

Gm 4: No. 6 Quinnipiac vs. No. 11 Niagara, 12:45 p.m. (EGFrocketleague)

Round 2

Gm 5: No. 1 Marist vs. No. 8 Marquette/No. 9 Siena, 1:30 p.m. (OfficialEGF)

Gm 6: No. 4 Seton Hall vs. No. 5 Butler/No. 12 Creighton, 1:30 p.m. (EGFrocketleague)

Gm 7: No. 2 Fairfield vs. No. 7 DePaul/No. 10 St. John’s, 2:15 p.m. (OfficialEGF)

Gm 8: No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 6 Quinnipiac/No. 11 Niagara, 2:15 p.m. (EGFrocketleague)


Gm 9: Winners of Game 5 vs. Game 6, 3 p.m. (OfficialEGF)

Gm 10: Winners of Game 7 vs. Game 8, 3:45 p.m. (OfficialEGF)


Winners of Game 9 vs. Game 10, 4:30 p.m. (OfficialEGF)

BIG EAST Conference Selects EGF As Its Esports Governance, Marketing And Distribution Partner

Today, the BIG EAST Conference and the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF) announced a three-year agreement that will enable all 11 member schools to compete in a year-long multigame season for the first time as official EGF Collegiate (EGFC) league members. EGFC is the national Division I Varsity Esports League with a growing number of schools bringing their own elite teams together to vie for National Championships across a number of game titles.

The EGFC Season begins October 5 and features nationwide intercollegiate competition in two eight-week splits as well as conference championships, regional playoffs and the EGFC National Championship to be held April 24-25, 2021. Expanded titles include: Rocket League, Overwatch, SSBU and FIFA. Broadcasts of all matches will be streamed on EGF’s 5 Twitch channels, the BIG EAST YouTube channel and various institutional platforms.

The BIG EAST members, located in eight of the country’s top 36 largest media markets, include Butler University, University of Connecticut, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University.

“We’re very excited that the relationship BIG EAST esports has enjoyed with EGF will be continuing for the next three years with league membership across many titles,” said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman. “We’re grateful for the outstanding leadership EGF provides annually to collegiate esports and look forward to partnering to bring compelling rivalry matches and broadcasts to our fans around the country.”

“We are honored to have earned the trust and respect of all the BIG EAST schools and conference leadership,” said Eric Johnson, CEO, EGF. “EGF is attracting teams who want to play against the biggest and best programs across the country for a national championship, want to have a voice and a stake in their governance, and want a partner who has the students’ passions as the top priority.

In addition to the BIG EAST’s conference wide affiliation with EGF, a growing number of other colleges and Universities are selecting EGF not only based on their competitive governance, but their commitment to serving esports communities and teams on campus and virtually through strategic partnerships, educational development, wellness, diversity and inclusion and industry leadership programs.

The esports (competitive video games) has generated more than $1 billion globally in 2019 and is expanding exponentially throughout 2020. By 2022, the growth of esports from a competition and viewer standpoint is expected to exceed 300 million participants. Division I collegiate programs began in earnest in 2015 and now feature more than 100 teams in the U.S.

Midwest esports company eFuse raises $1.4 million seed round

The eFuse team is pictured with Ohio Innovation Fund and Moby Dick Unlimited. Both companies have been instrumental in scaling eFuse.

eFuse, a web and mobile application that serves as the professional hub for esports and video games, announced a $1.4 million seed round in preparation for the platform’s launch on December 10, 2019. As one of the fastest growing forms of entertainment across the globe, esports draw international competitors to tournaments with prize pools of up to $30 million and hundreds of millions of spectators. 

“eFuse is the answer for every gap in the esports industry,” eFuse CEO Matt Benson said. “Since I founded eFuse in November 2018, our team has made strides in securing exclusive partnerships and creating the best platform for our community, so we’re thrilled to provide life-changing opportunities to gamers around the world starting in December.”

eFuse has secured funding from Ohio Innovation Fund (OIF), a venture capital firm with a track record of building high-growth startups in the Midwest. Benson honed his passion for entrepreneurship as an entrepreneur-in-residence with OIF in 2018.

“The esports industry is experiencing hyper growth — with the market size already at $1.2 billion, it’s expected that over $150 billion will be spent on video games and esports in 2019,” OIF Managing Director and eFuse Board Member Bill Baumel said. “The industry’s colossal reach is illustrated by the 2018 League of Legends World Championship Final, which had over 100 million unique viewers. That’s more than 2018’s Super Bowl.”

Professional athletes such as NFL player Braxton Miller and social media influencers such as chocoTaco, who has more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube, have given eFuse their seals of approval. Both will be serving as brand ambassadors to eFuse as the company prepares for launch.

eFuse has also built a seasoned team of employees and advisors to lead the company. Chief Technology Officer Patrick Shuff worked in engineering at both Facebook and Netflix. Anthony Muraco, an advisor to eFuse, was the director of gaming operations at the Cleveland Cavaliers and currently serves as the director of business operations for two prominent esports teams, SeattleCOD and Vancouver Titans.

To build upon this foundation, the team works closely with Moby Dick Unlimited in a shared office space. Moby Dick is the marketing firm behind several ultra-popular influencers who have three billion cumulative views, more than one hundred million subscribers across their social channels, and connections to the top esports professionals and organizations across the country.

FantasyEsports.gg and Razer Announce Global Partnership to Deliver Innovative and Rewarding Fantasy Esports Platform

FantasyEsports.gg, a global esports technology company, and Razer™, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, have announced a new partnership to deliver one of the most innovative and rewarding fantasy esports platforms to gamers around the globe.

The partnership kicked off last week with the start of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship and will provide gamers the opportunity to enter free-to-play fantasy esports contests on the FantasyEsports.gg platform using their Razer ID and win great prizes including Razer products and Razer Silver.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Razer for the League of Legends World Championships,” says Rossi Biddle, FantasyEsports.gg co-founder and CEO. “This collaboration will allow us to share our free-to-play fantasy contests with a broader audience around the globe and celebrate our shared commitment to the gaming community.”

“FantasyEsports.gg is a unique opportunity to bring esports to a larger audience and we’re very happy to extend this experience to our gamers,” says David Tse, Global Esports Director for Razer. “We hope that Razer’s partnership with FantasyEsports.gg will encourage participation by enhancing the gamer’s experience.”

Launched in 2018, FantasyEsports.gg features sophisticated performance-based scoring systems, unique contest formats, a detailed research center, interactive live experiences, and prizes from the world’s biggest gaming brands. The platform currently supports League of Legends, with Dota 2, Overwatch, and CS:GO scheduled to launch in late 2019.

Razer Silver is the only loyalty rewards program for gamers, backed by Razer. Earn Razer Silver simply by using Razer Gold to make your game purchases or participating in Razer software and services. When you rack up enough Razer Silver, you get to redeem a suite of great rewards – from Razer hardware to digital rewards such as Steam games and exclusive discount vouchers on various lifestyle brands.

Millennial Esports expands audience with purchase of leading Motorsport and Gaming YouTube Channel

Millennial Esports will expand its global esports and motorsport content creation and distribution platform by taking a controlling stake in leading automotive YouTube channel, LetsGoRacing.

LetsGoRacing is a YouTube channel that focuses on motorsport and esports racing content, from the creators of The Apprentice. The channel has achieved more than 40 million views from fans across the globe who have watched an incredible 270 million minutes of content since 2013. That equates to 513 years of viewing of Racing, motorsport, gaming, features and esports competitions.

Millennial Esports has entered into a binding letter of intent (“LOI”) to acquire a 51 percent stake in the London-based channel. The purchase is the latest in a number of moves by Millennial Esports to diversify its business and build an audience base for its growing content output.

LetsGoRacing is famous for its live streaming of motorsport events and coverage of the exploding category of esports racing. With industry-leading engagement and fan interaction, LetsGoRacing was an obvious choice for Millennial Esports. The two partners recently attracted more than 1.6 million views for a single highlights film from the World’s Fastest Gamer esports competition.

“Adding LetsGoRacing to our pending purchase of DriverDatabase.com has the same intention – expand an engaged and passionate fan base by providing new products and content that blur the lines between esports and motorsports,” Millennial Esports President and CEO, Darren Cox said.

“The YouTube channel provides brands with a platform to engage with a key demographic. LetsGoRacing already has a passionate and engaged follower base, and we’ll be looking to expand that.

“It also provides us with a great storytelling platform for other exciting programs we have commenced including Worlds’ Fastest Gamer and our recently-announced Miami esports racing arena.”

LetsGoRacing co-founder Andrew Hill is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to work with Millennial Esports on exciting new content opportunities. “We’ve seen a massive amount of interest from our subscriber base in esports content – particularly from the motorsports genre,” Hill said. “By joining forces with Millennial Esports, we’ll be able to take that to a new level with more content, more live streams, and more great storytelling. We’ll continue to show great live motorsport like the Japanese Super Formula championship and the Nurburgring VLN series, but we’re very excited about the opportunities to do the same for esports racing as well.”

LetsGoRacing will be the YouTube home for content from the World’s Fastest Gamer Finals, which commences next week in the USA. Ten racers from different gaming platforms will compete over a 12-day intense #CaliforniaDreamin tour for the chance to earn a real-world race drive valued at more than US$1 million.

Media Providers Scramble To Capitalize On eSports Phenomenon

Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Galyonkin

The rise of eSports is largely due to the vast extent of media platforms such as Twitch or YouTube. Previously, Twitch dominated the eSports media industry as many top players across various games live streamed on the platform. However, as the industry continues to ramp up, others want to get involved in the marketplace. Notably, Microsoft has its own platform called Mixer and while it is relatively small compared to Twitch or YouTube, the platform is growing.

Recently, top eSports influencer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins signed a deal with Mixer to exclusively stream on its platform, leaving Twitch behind. Ninja was one of the top streamers on Twitch, boasting over 14.7 million followers. Ninja attributes to his success to Twitch and Fortnite, which has led him to accumulate over a total of 270 million viewing hours since January 2018. To put it into perspective, Riot Games, owner of League of Legends, accumulated 165 million hours, while individual streamers such as Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Turner “Tfue” Tenney have reported 144 million and 105 million hours, respectively. Ninja, who is also an individual streamer, has more than 100 hours of viewership compared to Riot Games, which is multi-international gaming franchise corporation. While Twitch does dominate the eSports media scene, other platforms have also become increasingly popular such as Facebook Live, Smashcast, and Bigo. Aside from free online platforms, large corporations such as Disney and Comcast have also dove into the industry. And with the evolving eSports scene, competition among media companies could potentially grow even larger as they try to secure the media rights to livestreams and tournaments. According to data compiled by Infoholic Research, the global eSports market is expected to triple by 2025, reaching a value of USD 3 Billion. Additionally, the market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 20% during the forecast period from 2019 to 2025. UMG Media Ltd. (TSX-V: ESPT), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL).

At its inception, eSport just involved a group of friends creating a team and competing against others. Since the birth of games, there has always been a competitive aspect to the industry, whether in the original Pac-Mac or the latest edition of Call of Duty. A multitude of players has been attracted to the idea of winning and climbing the leaderboard, which is why the eSports industry grew at such a remarkable pace. Now, games such as Fortnite and League of Legends have pushed eSports into mainstream media, allowing organizers to create multi-million dollar tournaments. The attractive grand prize pools have prompted teams from around the world to strive to become the best of the best, which is why some teams have become more business oriented rather than just a group of friends. In particular, games with a large fan and player base generally offer the highest prize tournaments. And with the large sum of monetary prizes in combination with popular professional players, a large audience is expected to be drawn in.

The larger the audience and the longer the viewing hours, the higher a company can monetize the broadcast. Similar to sports, many broadcasting and media companies are aggressively pushing to obtain the media rights for specific sports teams or tournaments. For instance, one of the largest sports networks, YES Network, broadcasts games for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets and is a template others want to emulate. The network owns exclusive media rights to the teams, meaning that if other companies want to broadcast a Yankees or Nets game, they would need to negotiate a deal or pay the network.

Steve Arhancet, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Owner of Team Liquid said in an interview last year with CNBC’s “Fast Money,” that media streaming providers are pursuing to own the exclusive rights to broadcast League of Legends. League of Legends is a prime target for many companies because of its large audience. In 2018, League of Legends World Finals had nearly 100 million viewers. The impressive number only means more monetization for media companies. “Media rights have to do with the exclusive right to broadcast the League, and there’s plenty of interest in the space,” he said. “You’ve got Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, kind of all vying for these rights.”

UMG Media Ltd. (TSX-V: ESPT) announced earlier last week that, “Legends were made and champions were crowned this weekend in New York City at the Fortnite World Cup. With over $30,000,000USD awarded to players in the Solos, Duos, Creative and Pro/AM World Championships, countless lives were changed from a few flights on Fortnite’s Battle Bus.

Out of the four world championship events, all four were won by players of UMG’s Friday Fortnite. Bugha, a 16-year old reigning from Pennsylvania just won the most recent Friday Fortnite on July 19, 2019 and went on to win $3,000,000USD and claim the title of Fortnite World Champion. Aquaa took home $1,500,000USD in the duos championship. Friday Fortnite regulars, Cizzorz and Airwaks won the Creative World Championship and Pro/AM at the World Cup respectively. Countless other Friday Fortnite competitors finished top ten in the world taking home a combined $9,287,500.

UMG’s CEO, Dave Antony had this to say regarding UMG series players performance at the World Cup:

‘I want to congratulate everyone who participated in the Fortnite World Cup on their achievements and give a special shoutout to the four newly crowned world champions who participate in UMG’s broadcast events, along with all other UMG players at the event. Everyone at UMG loves the game, the competitions and most importantly the players and community. We look forward to kicking off more Fortnite initiatives through the remainder of 2019 to give more players a platform to kickoff their competitive gaming careers.’

UMG has increased their Fortnite offerings in the recent months to meet the demand set forth by the competitive gaming community for their competitions. Since 2019 started, UMG has had over 110,000 Fortnite tournament signups. Between the gaming platform and their initiatives on the influencer side, UMG is in a unique situation to capture a large percent of the Fortnite market.

eSport Tournament Prizes Continue to Grow Alongside Their Popularity

Following the conclusion of the Fortnite World Cup tournament, eSports enthusiasts have now turned their attention to Dota 2’s The International 2019. Last year, Epic Games, the owner of Fortnite, made global headlines after announcing that its World Cup tournament would feature a USD 30 Mill prize pool. 16-year old teenager Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf stunned the world and took home the USD 3 Million grand prize for the World Cup Solos final on Sunday as Epic Games’ World Cup tournament boasted the largest payout in eSports history. However, Valve’s Dota 2 The International has now surpassed the prize pool. Heading into the ninth annual tournament, which is expected to kick off on August 20th, The International is a highly sought after and reputable tournament because of its massive payout. For 2019, Valve is paying out more than USD 30 Million, topping Fortnite’s World Cup prize pool. Organizations are able to hold these colossal tournaments primarily because of crowdfunding from players. For instance, The International’s prize pool mainly consists of in-game purchases from players, commonly known as microtransactions. In particular, Valve is able to provide players with an immense payout because of its in-game “Battle Pass” item. The battle pass has different tiers, which players can purchase for different price points. The pass consists of rare in-game items such as cosmetics as well as special exclusive items. Valve noted that it uses a quarter of the sales to create The International’s prize pool. In 2018, Valve was able to boast a US 25.5 Million grand prize for its Dota 2 tournament. As of late July, The International 2019’s payout is estimated at USD 30.80 Million, however, crowdfunding is continuing and the prize pool is expected to increase. As the eSports industry continues to grow at its current rapid pace, it has caught the attention of various other industries and captivated millions of viewers worldwide. And as the industry continues to accelerate, eSports could become a mainstream media market as well as a viable career for a multitude of young adults. According to data compiled by MarketsAndMarkets, the global Esports Market was valued at USD 926.3 Million in 2018. By 2023, the market is projected to reach USD 2.17 Billion while registering a CAGR of 18.61% from 2018 to 2023. UMG Media Ltd. (TSX-V: ESPT), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ)

While competing in tournaments can potentially net players millions of dollars from winning, it’s a highly tedious and difficult road to reach the top. However, some players aren’t the top of the leaderboard, but still generate millions in annual revenue due to the mainstream media. Players such as Guy “DrDisRespect” Beahm and Jaryd “summit1g” Lazar are among the top streamers on the popular eSports media platform, Twitch. While the two are generally characterized as casual players, it is important to note that they have competed in professional tournaments. It is estimated that the two have earned millions of dollars through Twitch, YouTube, and various other social media campaigns. While the two may not compete professionally, they provide thousands of viewers each day with live content. Their abilities to draw viewers and engage with them have thusly led to their lavish careers. Moreover, their large audience base has also provided them with sponsorships from various companies such as Turtle Beach, Razer, and Monster Energy. The combination of their Twitch and YouTube subscribers, social media, and sponsorships allows the two to generate potentially over a million dollars in annual revenue. Overall, the eSports industry is a very diverse marketplace and allows different spectrums of gamers to thrive amongst one another. Competitive players generally love the adrenaline and thrill of winning and improving, while casual players enjoy more of a stress-free and relaxed gameplay. Nonetheless, competitive and casual players are able to coexist within the same marketplace because of their varying audience appeals. “Ever since their inception, video games have captured the imagination of millions. As gamers, we have always been captivated by the vast open worlds, immersive stories, and a video game’s ability to help us escape from our reality,” said Jayson van Kerckhoven, owner of TrinocGames. “But, for others, something more is needed. For some gamers, it’s about the competition. For these players, the story and lore offer little value. Instead, it’s the skill ceiling of the game and the drive to be the best that keeps them coming back. It’s this desire that led to the creation of the formal competitive landscape that we now know today as esports.”

UMG Media Ltd. (TSX-V: ESPT) announced earlier this week that, “Legends were made and champions were crowned this weekend in New York City at the Fortnite World Cup. With over $30,000,000USD awarded to players in the Solos, Duos, Creative and Pro/AM World Championships, countless lives were changed from a few flights on Fortnite’s Battle Bus.

Out of the four world championship events, all four were won by players of UMG’s Friday Fortnite. Bugha, a 16-year old reigning from Pennsylvania just won the most recent Friday Fortnite on July 19, 2019 and went on to win $3,000,000USD and claim the title of Fortnite World Champion. Aquaa took home $1,500,000USD in the duos championship. Friday Fortnite regulars, Cizzorz and Airwaks won the Creative World Championship and Pro/AM at the World Cup respectively. Countless other Friday Fortnite competitors finished top ten in the world taking home a combined $9,287,500.

UMG’s CEO, Dave Antony had this to say regarding UMG series players performance at the World Cup:

‘I want to congratulate everyone who participated in the Fortnite World Cup on their achievements and give a special shoutout to the four newly crowned world champions who participate in UMG’s broadcast events, along with all other UMG players at the event. Everyone at UMG loves the game, the competitions and most importantly the players and community. We look forward to kicking off more Fortnite initiatives through the remainder of 2019 to give more players a platform to kickoff their competitive gaming careers.’

UMG has increased their Fortnite offerings in the recent months to meet the demand set forth by the competitive gaming community for their competitions. Since 2019 started, UMG has had over 110,000 Fortnite tournament signups. Between the gaming platform and their initiatives on the influencer side, UMG is in a unique situation to capture a large percent of the Fortnite market.

About UMG: UMG is a premier esports company in North America. UMG has operations involved in live tournaments, online esports contests, casino esports ‎operations, creation and distribution of original content and esports tournament operations through ‎its proprietary tournament management app. Readers can learn more about UMG and its esports ‎offerings at www.umggaming.com‎.”

World’s Fastest Gamer Season Two Launches Biggest-Ever Prize In Esports Racing

Today marks the launch of World’s Fastest Gamer season two – bringing together ten of the fastest esports racers on the planet to battle it out to win a year racing for real at some of the world’s most iconic circuits with leading race team, R-Motorsport, a strategic partner of Aston Martin

World’s Fastest Gamer season two will bring together ten of the fastest esports racers on the planet to battle it out to win a year of racing for real at some of the world’s most iconic circuits. 

The winner will become a professional driver and race Aston Martins with R-Motorsport at iconic circuits including Monza, Paul Ricard, Brands Hatch, Nurburgring, and in the Spa-Francorchamps and Daytona 24 hours.

Eight finalists come from the biggest esports racing championships of 2019. Two more will enter via wildcard qualifiers held in the coming weeks, one exclusively on mobile on the Gear.Club app, the other online on rFactor 2. 

Finalists will undergo rigorous selection trials in the UK with the top six flying to R-Motorsport’s HQ in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Two will go through an intensive four-day set of challenges and will compete in an on-track shootout at the Hockenheim finale for Germany’s “Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters” – DTM.

Head judge Juan Pablo Montoya and WFG season one winner Rudy Van Buren will decide who has what it takes to claim the prize worth more than $1 Million. 

Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix and Daytona 24 hours winner Montoya is well placed to pick a worthy winner. 

“I have raced online for several years and use simulators to stay sharp,” Montoya said. “I know there is huge talent in the virtual world because gamers regularly beat me! I know the skills between real and virtual are transferable, so my job on WFG is to make sure these gamers are hungry and perform under pressure.”

Van Buren became a Formula 1 simulator driver with his WFG season one victory. His story was watched by millions online and reached 400 million households on networks including ESPN, CNBC, Sky and Fox.

World’s Fastest Gamer founder, Millennial Esports Corp. (“Millennial” or the “Company”, TSX VENTURE: GAME,OTCQB: MLLLF) President, Darren Cox, believes the competition has the potential to unearth real-world motorsport talent.

“Esports racing has grown significantly since our first project more than ten years ago, but still there is a huge undiscovered talent pool out there,” Cox said. 

“WFG is the bridge between the virtual and real worlds and we will again provide unparalleled access to both sides of our sport through all digital and broadcast platforms.”

Founded in 2014, R-Motorsport has established itself as one of the world’s top GT racing teams.

“In our short history R-Motorsport have had great success and impact on track with Aston Martin,” R Motorsport’s Co-owner and Team Principal Florian Kamelger said. “With Darren’s team at Millennial Esports we now have a foot in the virtual world that provides our partners with a new platform within motorsport.” 

The R-Motorsport squad has extensive experience racing Aston Martin entries in high level global motorsport championships including the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the Blancpain GT Series and the world’s most important international touring car championship, the DTM.

“This project shows the increasing interest in Aston Martin in the real and virtual world and I am confident that this will catapult our brand to leaders in the burgeoning esports space,” said Aston Martin President and Group CEO, Andy Palmer.

Myesports Ventures Ltd. Announces Grand Opening of the Gaming Stadium

The Gaming Stadium Main Stage

Myesports Ventures Ltd (the “Company” or “TGS”), a company hyper-focused on building Canada’s first esports Arena, is proud to announce The Gaming Stadium Grand Opening, Presented by TELUS PureFibre. The doors will open on June 28, 2019, at its new facility in Richmond, British Columbia. The Gaming Stadium is a center of excellence HUB for esports competitions, training, gaming leagues and tournaments.

he Gaming Stadium, powered by TELUS PureFibre — ensuring all gaming is supported by a 10 GB symmetrical network — features a large main gaming stage, equipped with 12 PCs, a gaming area off-stage with 48 PCs and boasts seating for up to 110 spectators.

Esports has soared in popularity, even as recently as the last two years. In 2018, it accounted for nearly 400 million viewers worldwide, while OTT and traditional cable platforms took notice, with media and licensing rights topping $180 million. By 2022, worldwide esports revenues are expected to rise to 1.58 billion according to PwC. “We are positioning TGS to lead in the space by delivering tournaments, leagues, training programs for new esport athletes and programs to support the existing pro player base. The beauty of the arena is that it’s also multi-faceted, which allows us to service both the competitive side of esports, as well as the content production side by capturing our athletes in action during live and streamed competitions. There is something for everyone, whether you’re a potential gamer, streamer or just someone who wants to come and watch gameplay, we’ve got you covered,” says Spiro Khouri, VP of Sales & Marketing.

The Grand Opening festivities will be open to the public starting at 5 p.m. with free advance tickets being made available Friday, June 7, at 9 a.m. via www.thegamingstadium.com. The entire event will be live streamed on The Gaming Stadium’s Twitch channel located at twitch.tv/thegamingstadium.

‘League Of Legends’ Spring Finals Expected To Draw Record Wagers

League of Legends (Flickr/artubr)

One of the world’s most popular video games, League of Legends is estimated to gather a total viewership of over 76 million people during their LCS Spring Finals this coming April. But Payperhead.com – the leading sportsbook software company in the industry – is expecting an unprecedented number of wagers being placed on the eSports event, a never-before-seen phenomenon.

“League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the video game industry. Their last Spring Split gathered a total viewership of over 75 million people worldwide.” explained Nate Johnson, Product Manager of PayPerHead.com. “This year’s ‘Split’ has been quite the rollercoaster ride of excitement and upset. During their Spring Finals this April, we’re expecting a 75% increase of wagers.”

Recently, PayPerHead has improved their list of eSports to their software, where agents can choose which eSport they provide to their players and the ability to set their own lines.  Currently, their platform supports games like League of Legends, DOTA, CS:GO and Overwatch. While the company admits that their supported games can be seen as a limited list, PayPerHead commented that the majority of eSport industry revenue stems from these major titles.

“People who are not quite versed in eSports, many compare the industry to a league like the NBA or NFL, however, this relation is completely wrong.” Explained Johnson. “Each video game can be seen as a league of their own. League of Legends can be related to the NFL, and Fortnite to the NBA.”


In previous months, PayPerHead.com reported an increase of users and agents in their 18-32 year old demographic. The company is anticipating that an increased amount of adult millennials are creating sportsbooks of their own, and including esports as one of the leading betting options they offer.

“Our sales team is getting bombarded with calls with inquiries regarding the eSports leagues we support and options for betting.” Explained Johnson. “People are specifically asking for League of Legends, which is a clear sign that we’re going to see a significant increase in bets throughout their spring finals.”

eSports Services Continue To Grow…

eSports Services Continue To Grow…
Online eSports services, such as Twitch, will swell to over 310 million viewers in 2020, topping the likes of the NFL and Formula 1, according to new data from Juniper Research. That is up from 133 million this year, bringing in almost $1 billion in revenues from subscriptions alone. The study, Digital Games: eSports 2015-2020, projects that advertisers will benefit, with revenues forecast to increase by almost 250% from 2015 to 2020.

Hitbox Closes On $4 Million For eSports Platform

Hitbox Closes On $4 Million For eSports Platform
eSports platform Hitbox announced the successful closing of a $4 million growth round for its North American operations and worldwide reach. The round was led by Vienna-based VC-firm Speedinvest and includes MMO developer and publisher, Wargaming,North Base Media; as well as angel investors. “Supporting live streaming for our games and fans has always been a key pillar in our strategy for growing our online presence,” said Sean Lee, Chief Strategy Officer at Wargaming, “Hitbox allows us to truly make live streaming an extension of Wargaming and our titles through the ability to integrate game data into the broadcast. Gamers will be able to share their experiences easier than ever before and our channels will have the robust infrastructure AAA gaming demands.”

Trying To get OneUp In the Mobile Space…

Trying To get OneUp In the Mobile Space…

OneUp Sports offers live-action, edge of your seat, split-second decision making mobile sports platforms that offer a deeper and more engaging live-sports experience. Their platforms use the power of mobile and social technology, live sports data and content to bring professional sports teams, fans and friends together like never before. The company has really started to expand their portfolio and recently acquired one of the largest daily sports video providers for newspaper sites,CineSport, into the fold.

We asked John McCauley, a sports business veteran at places like Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment what’s next for OneUp and the mobile sports space in general.
Unique video content continues to drive engagement. How does the CineSport deal change or enhance your business model?

More video is consumed today than at any point in history. The CineSport deal with OneUp merges the platform with the most video views with a company that has created and aggregated a tremendous amount of content. The OneUp Sports Network will be able to utilize the video content to put in front of more fans.

How has the business changed even in the short time you have been around as a content platform?

Marketers are beginning to realize that brands have a lot of power in mobile. Sports brands today are creating engagement and merging the best services out there. OneUp Sports is bringing in different types of services all into one spot – the aggregation of everything around the brand for mobile.

Many teams and leagues are still struggling with mobile engagement. What is the biggest issue for teams or leagues?

Monetizing the mobile space is the number one problem facing all teams and leagues. It is tough for teams and leagues to create scale. The media marketplace is built off impressions but the sports industry traditionally has been the sponsorship model. We need to figure out a way to bridge that gap.

Who are some of the better partners you have that are mobile first?
Sports brands are just on the cusp of maximizing the opportunity that is mobile. It is the screen that follows the fan everywhere they go. We need to create more experiences, which will lead to more data, which will lead to more revenue.

What brands do the best at mobile engagement in and around sport?
This is not necessarily in sport, but I specifically love Starbucks since they are taking advantage of the mobile space and understand how their brand fits into their customer’s daily lifestyle. I am a fan because they really come from the perspective of making my life easier when I am in one of their stores.

Anyone that is improving his or her customers experience via mobile is doing a great job. To be quite honest though, not many brands are maximizing their potential yet.

Gaming is quickly becoming an even hotter topic. is there a platform where OneUp will look more to eGaming as well?

eGaming is clearly a growing space with millions and millions of fans but I am not sure there is a platform yet that has cracked the code on everything those fans want out of their eGaming sports experience. Since there is a clear demand for it, there will be a focus to capitalize on it fairly soon. OneUp Sports is watching this industry grow and keeping a close eye on it.
How does fantasy play into your model in the future; and if gambling becomes legal is there an opportunity you will look at then as well?

Fantasy has many different definitions; it could be playing our “Connect” game; following along on a second screen experience; or receiving alerts on some of your favorite players. We are catering to a certain sports fan that is a fan of a brand or particular game.
As gambling becomes more prevalent in pro sports in America (similar to what it is now in Europe) going forward, our company will be paying very close attention to this area of the business. It will be a big factor if regulations change in the near future.

The bottom line is we want to aggregate anything and everything fans want to do around live play. That’s our job and naturally gambling is always going to be a big factor.

How is the experience different for college partners vs. professional teams?

The media experience does not differ that much but generally the priority of college teams are slightly different than pro teams based on the needs of each individual market. Things like seat upgrades or amplifying their 50/50 draws are more important in the college space because typically getting fans in seats is usually not an issue.

What is next for the business?

The next big thing in mobile is going to be Virtual Reality (VR). It will be something that teams and brands will use to better tell their story and will be content that could directly be distributed through the mobile device.

Within next 24 months, every kid in North America will have the VR viewing devices. They will simply be able to pop the phone in the viewing device to experience the VR. This will create a distribution path for our partners to create innovative content.

From the financial standpoint, VR is not just a great storytelling tool but also will be an effective revenue stream.

TDP Exclusive: Vulcun Looking To Seize The eSports Fantasy Niche

Vulcun Looking To Seize The eSports Fantasy Niche

This past week the two phenomena chasing the sports and entertainment industry, eSports and Daily Pay fantasy, came crashing into each other as both DraftKings and Fan Duel announced deals or initiatives to put themselves into the space, and Turner and IMG/William Morris Endeavor announced their own deal to create a “league” in the space.
At the same time another startup in the melded world of ESports Fantasy was making their case at the OnDeck Sports Conference in New York. It is Vulcun, an up and running esports Fantasy business run out of the Bay area.

Vulcun allows you to win money playing daily fantasy eSports on titles like League, DOTA2, CS:GO, CoD and more. To date this year Vulcun has distributed over $7 million in prizing to 150,000+ winners. We caught up with Ed Chang is the VP of Business Development at Vulcun to talk about the space, the opportunity and where it is going.

Vulcun appears to have seized a suddenly very hot niche, what is the value proposition offered vs. the larger traditional daily fantasy companies entering the market? What makes you work better?

I believe that we understand eSports better than the other large players. We understand that it’s not as simple as duplicating the fantasy football or basketball playbook. We’ve also managed to nail down the community part much better than the others and it shows in the amount of engagement on our different properties at all times.

Egaming is very much not the traditional sports play. Why would fantasy egaming work?

Why wouldn’t it? Anytime there’s actionable stats there’s the potential for fantasy. Each game has kills, assists, deaths and its own unique stats like flag captures, minions killed, gold spent, mana crystals unused, damage per round, etc. Not to mention the worldwide appeal of eSports, with huge fan followings and hundreds of millions of eyeballs

How is the audience different from say, football or baseball fantasy? Younger, global?

Generally 18-34 year old males. eSports is truly global, as opposed to sports like American Football (huge in the US), soccer (bigger in Europe and South America), etc. Also, eSports world championships (like the League of Legends World Championships, The International for DOTA2, Majors for CS:GO) bring the best from all around the world and happen yearly.

Who are the players and properties people should watch for?

Currently the top eSports are League of Legends, Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, DOTA2 and Hearthstone. Titles to keep an eye on are Call of Duty:Black Ops 3, Halo 5 (both studios are making huge investments in eSports in 2016), Vainglory (first mobile game in my opinion that has a chance to be an eSports) and Rocket League (just really fun).

Is there a worry that a young audience would not have the access to cash that a traditional Daily Pay Fantasy player would have?

The demographic that DFeS has is very similar to DFS. At the end of the day, with the DFS model you’re reliant on a small group of whales/sharks (those losing and winning lots of money on the platform) and an ocean of fish (people that play infrequently or rarely in small amounts).

There is a misconception that “egaming” is one entity, when in reality it is more like the Olympics. Fans of DOTA don’t play or follow World of War Craft, like skating fans may not follow skiing. How do you scale egaming fantasy as a business with that in mind?

eSports is also like your Olympics example, where when I’m sitting on the couch watching and figure skating is over and curling is on, I’ll watch some of it. Sometimes, hockey comes on instead and I’m hooked. Anecdotally, I’ve seen us be able to convert League of Legends into Call of Duty fans because League isn’t in season and they want something to play. With our digital skins stuff we’re doing, we’ve gotten thousands of users to purchase Counter-Strike because they’ve won items and wanted to see what the fuss is about.

What are some of the success stories in egaming fantasy? Whats games have seen an uptick in fantasy?

Earlier this year we had the first $100k DFeS winner (http://venturebeat.com/2015/06/19/vulcun-gives-its-first-100k-prize-to-a-fantasy-esports-player/) and today we have many. We’ve given . One semi-surprising game that we’ve seen surprising numbers on is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It’s a huge franchise, but most of the anticipation is for Black Ops 3 coming out, and the MLG league was the only one that was running, but numbers have been great.

You talked about owned currency and the purchase of items by fans. That is something that traditional fantasy does not have. How does that factor into the value of running an egames fantasy business?

It allows us to do a lot more. As our focus shifts beyond being a one-trick DFeS pony, we’re in a world where we can give rewards that are arguably more valuable than cash without dealing with supply chain or shipping and handling issues. We’re getting closer and closer to our goal of being a platform making eSports 100X more fun.

Has a lot of research gone into seeing if the fans want to play fantasy or is it more anecdotal at this point?

I’m not sure the method to the madness that Ali and Murti (co-founders of Vulcun) used to arrive to the conclusion of building the FanDuel/Draftkings for eSports in the first place but our numbers back up our funding and the hype. One of our core company values is speed – speed in building products, speed in getting things done and also speed in quickly figuring out if something’s working or not.

What is the esports fantasy market now vs. where you think it will be in two years, and why?

According to this report it’ll be $20mm in entry fees on 600,000 users. I think it has the potential to be 5-10x as big, due to current eSports growth numbers and the entrant of big players.

What do you think about the Turner announcement this week? Do you think egamers will actually migrate back to broadcast after so many have said that platforms like Twitch are where the fans are?

I think most people who have been involved in eSports long enough have a similar approach – cautiously optimistic. We’ve been here before and we’ve been burned before with DirecTV and the CGS. I think it’ll be difficult to bring gamers back to broadcast — all industry studies show that the younger generation is cutting the cord. Less than 10% of my friends currently pay for cable and I think that number will continue to trend downwards and I don’t think 2 10-week CS:GO seasons a year is enough to convince someone to shell out $50+ a month.

Lastly for Vulcun, what would make for a successful business story a year from now?

We’ve successfully transitioned into an end-to-end eSports platform. And we buy DraftKings.

@TheDailyPayoff – Trying To Find A Winning Sports Quotient…

Trying To Find A Winning Sports Quotient…

by Joe favorito @JoeFav
With all the sites on the web today clamoring for a voice, as well as traffic, it can be tough to find a niche that can break through. However two Ivy League grads have created a platform built around unique analytics and storytelling that is gaining solid traction, views and attention. Meet The Sports Quotient, a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. SQ is home to over 100 analytical young sports writers, led by CEO and Penn grad Zack Weiner, and COO and Yale grad Robert Hess, who is a story in himself as a chess Grandmaster.

We caught up with Hess to find out what makes SQ tick, and how it sets itself apart.

What was the thinking behind launching the site?

The Sports Quotient was officially launched on September 5, 2012. We wanted to form a community of college-aged sports enthusiasts who also excel as writers. In general, the sports journalism field is dominated by older men. But the younger generation is also spearheading the analytics movement, delving deeper into advanced statistics to determine how impactful players truly have been. We wanted to give these incredibly knowledgeable sports writers the voice they deserve. We named ourselves The Sports Quotient because we aspired to be a source of intelligent analysis, a site fans would come to enhance their sports knowledge.


What has the response been?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have been well-received by many other publications, and, more importantly, we’ve built an incredible community. Our writers are constantly in communication with one another (they send hundreds, if not thousands, of GroupMe messages every day) and we have nearly 40,000 extremely engaged Twitter followers with whom we are frequently interacting.

You have a wide variety of writers, where do they come from and how do you find such a great flow of contributors?

Our writers and editors (and video analysts and editors) hail from over 70 universities. We have a strong reputation as a company that deeply cares about and respects the writers we bring on. We’ve been thankful to see writers choose The Sports Quotient over other companies because of our dedication to each and every member of our staff.

What type of stories are you most proud of on the site this far?

Interviews are always a great source of pride for us. We enjoy humanizing athletes. On top of that, we’ve published numerous in-depth articles detailing why players might or might not be as good as you think. Writers also use statistics for predictions, analysis of league trends, team performance, historical comparisons, etc. We certainly pride ourselves on analyzing advanced metrics in a way most other sites fail to.
What are the biggest challenges in growing the site?

We’ve faced many challenges these past three years. It’s certainly been difficult to balance friendship and business. On top of the personal challenges, sports media is a crowded market and you have to constantly be thinking of fresh and unique ideas and services to differentiate yourself. It was really hard to build up an initial fan base, craft our own voice. But over time we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, built a community oriented on teamwork, and dealt with the highs and lows.

You have a unique background in competitive chess as well. How has the strategic side of being a chess grand master help you in the business world?

I think the cliché would be to say that I’m always thinking a few steps ahead. But this isn’t too far from the truth, either. There are always enticing deals that seem like the correct move upon first glance, but when you actually take a step back from the excitement and think about the long term, the deal doesn’t seem quite as sweet. I also think my background allows me to predict what stories will be well-received and helps me adequately prepare before big events.

What has been the most effective way SQ has grown so far?

Word of mouth. Our writers truly love SQ and that often does the job for us – they’re our greatest marketers.
Where and how do you get your information. What sites do you like, who do you like to read in general?

Our writers enjoy the usual suspects: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Grantland, Fox Sports, etc. For stats and data: Pro Football Focus, 82games, RealGM, etc. Twitter of course helps us learn about breaking news as it is happening. For industry knowledge, we keep up with TechCrunch, VentureBeat, etc. We are always reading and learning.

What advice do you give to young people trying to find their voice in the content world?
Think about what you can bring to the table that’s different. Always consider how is your voice adding value and not creating noise? What do your favorite writers do that you love, and how can you take the best of all worlds?

What’s next for the site and the business? What can people expect to see this fall?
Our football (and futbol) and basketball coverage will be more extensive and in-depth than ever before. Some of our writers are even working on interesting models. We’re going to continue to grow, provide new forms of enriching content, and continue to raise our readers’ SQ.

Growing E-Sports Business or Fantasy; What Is An Accelerator And How Does It Work?

Growing E-Sports Business or Fantasy; What Is An Accelerator And How Does It Work?

@JoeFav @TheDailyPayoff

The explosion of innovation in all things sports business and technology has created a gold rush for new ideas, especially in the pay fantasy and e-gaming space. However like the gold rush, many chase dreams of financial success only to leave with worthless pieces of lead, and sometimes, ideas stolen or good concepts that never reach maturity because of bad business planning. Into that void has come any number of companies and even Universities looking to help the best of the best. Recently the Los Angeles Dodgers launched an incubator program with R/GA to help a select number of companies venture west to try and grow.

Earlier this month another accelerator program came to the forefront, Stadia Ventures based in St. Louis. Stadia was co-founded by Tim Hayden, director of St. Louis University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Art Chou, a Chou, a former Rawlings Sporting Goods executive with the idea that not all good sports business ideas live on the left or the right coast.
We caught up with Hayden to explain the business, its differentiators, and why St. Louis.

Explain the goal of the “Accelerator” vs. a “Shark Tank,” a “Hackathon,” or an “Incubator?

An incubator is a hotel that houses entrepreneurs (individual startups or accelerator companies). Meanwhile the accelerator is the mentoring and educational program to give the startups a better chance to succeed.

An accelerator is like an executive MBA program for startups. However, instead of a degree, the ultimate goal is that the cohort company achieves a few major milestones during the 10-16 week immersive boot camp. An accelerator will pick winners and invest in them like Shark Tank…but mentor the winners like The Voice.
How is this different or similar from others like the Dodgers recently launched accelerator?

Our Stadia Accelerator is different from almost every other accelerator, including the Dodgers Accelerator, because we are a Sports Innovation Hub first and foremost. We do not work for a single brand or customer. We invite anyone and everyone in the Sports Business ecosystem (entrepreneurs, investors, industry executives, service providers, etc) to come together to create a stronger and smarter community. Our goal is to become the clearing house or the vetting program for each of the audiences, which saves each group time, pain, and money.
What type of business are you looking for?

Stadia Accelerator is looking for established startups in the sports business space. They must have a product or service, traction and they must be generating revenue. We want them to have proven that there is a market for the solution to a pain. We focus on companies in Software/Apps, Big Data, Equipment, Apparel, Training, Nutrition, Gaming and Fantasy. However, we will look at any company that can help solve pain in the sports business space.

Some people may be surprised to hear of St Louis as being fertile ground for such a project vs. NY or LA? Why St. Louis?

St. Louis is the gateway to the west for a reason. We were the trading post for everyone heading west to seek their fortunes. Our city was created by entrepreneurs, and we have never lost that spirit. The recent St. Louis entrepreneurial renaissance has been going on since the 2009 recession. While we lost a number of Fortune 50 companies during that time, many of those executives turned their talents and newfound wealth towards the entrepreneurial scene. Couple that with the fact that for a long time, our Universities embraced the fact that you need to teach people how to be better entrepreneurs (Saint Louis University has the #13 Entrepreneurship program in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report…23 straight years in the top 25). To set ourselves apart from the rest of the nation, our community and University leaders identified that entrepreneurship needed to be nourished. So they created Arch Grants, a $50,000 grant awarded to some of the nation’s best startups wanting to move to St. Louis for a year to continue building their businesses. Since 2012, 55 startups have been funded for a total of $3.1M (50 are still operating in St. Louis).

So when people around the nation say that St. Louis has a strong entrepreneurial renaissance because of our low cost of living and our access to top notch talent; that’s only a portion of the reason. The real reason is because we have worked together to build a strong ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship.
How have you attracted investment in the project and what are they looking for?

Unknown to a lot of people, St. Louis has always been a breeding ground for a lot of global, senior-level sports business talent. When you have the #1 global sports sponsor (Anheuser-Busch) in St. Louis, it’s to be expected. And that audience has always been interested in giving back. They want to see St. Louis become the Sports Innovation Hub. We joke that in 1904, St. Louis was the epicenter for Business (1904 World’s Fair) and Sports (1904 Olympics). So why can’t we be the epicenter again?

However, our investors also understand that this is not an ego play or a community play. This must be a smart business investment with the expectation of legitimate returns. It just so happens that this investment is in the sports business space.

And we tell our investors that we will only accept “smart money,” which are those that are familiar with the sports business space. We find that these people have a knack for picking winners in this space.

What is the competition going to be like?

There are many accelerators in the United States (St. Louis is the 3rd largest accelerator city in the nation). But most are focused on technology or biotech for early stage startups. There are very few focused on the sports business space. There are even less that are willing to invest up to $100K in each business. And there are even fewer focused on becoming the Sports Innovation Hub for the entire ecosystem.

Besides the funding, our true strength is our mentor network that we can surround each startup with. Our goal at graduation is to ensure that that each accelerator company has a follow-on investment lined up, a large order, or an acquisition suitor. We are directly tied with our cohort company’s success and failure…and we do not like to fail. In addition, once a company comes into the Stadia family, we will be looking for ways to help them…for life.
What level of expertise will the senior execs involved have?

The Stadia Advisory Pool is being assembled from every walk of life. Not only do we have sports business executives from teams, leagues, sponsors, sporting goods, etc. We also have executives from the various facets of business (lawyers, accountants, wealth managers, financial planners, insurance, operations, supply chain, etc).

Sports Business touches every facet of business…so we need advisors and mentors at senior levels to cover those needs.

What is the end goal in say, two years, with the project?

We’re in this for the long haul. However, in two years, we’d love to have 20 established startups that have grown and are still engaged with us helping to mentor future startups in our Accelerator.

Success for Stadia Ventures is defined as Do Good. Do Well.

Doing good means that we are achieving financial success for our cohort companies and the sports business ecosystem. But, doing well is a societal success. Did we help to make the founders better people? Did we help to get products and services into more people’s hands to solve their pains? Did we help the industry and our partners become more innovative? Did we connect good people with each other? And finally, were we able to establish a stronger ecosystem.

If we can say we have a stronger and smarter sports business ecosystem, we will have succeeded. But it will take time. We’ve been working on creating a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in St. Louis since 1764.