THE ESPORT REPORT
Esports enter a new era
The world of electronic sports (or esports) has seemingly exploded in popularity year-over-year, especially since the early 2000’s. But even with this prior and serious momentum, the pandemic has helped propel esports to new and unprecedented heights. Indeed, the esports market is on track to surpass $1.5 billion by 2023, and fresh developments and entrants to the arena are fueling this rise.
2021 FORTNITE CHAMPION SERIES
Epic, the developer of multiplayer gaming sensation Fortnite, has pledged $20 million for the prize pool of Fortnite’s competitive Champion Series (also known as FNCS), making this pool second only to the $30 million prize pool Epic pledged in 2019. This year, Epic is holding four seasons of FNCS, with $3 million in prize money allotted for each competition. The first qualifiers begin today, while the finals will take place March 12th. All competitions are taking place online, with additional info posted on Epic’s blog. Beyond this major tournament and its high-stakes cash prizes, Epic is also introducing mid- and end-of-year competitions (specifics are TBD for now) where top FNCS players can compete to win portions of the remaining $8 million pledged.
The world of esports is rife with fantasy leagues, and startup Esports One aims to be the first “all-in-one fantasy platform” for the virtual sport. The platform gives users the ability to read up on players, organize fantasy teams, and watch games—all of which can help make esports more accessible to a broader audience looking for a new hobby. Esports One also reports a 25% month-over-month growth in its user base, most likely due to the stop-and-start nature of many professional sporting events since the onset of the pandemic. A recent funding round has netted the startup an additional $4 million, which it will use to expand its virtual currency, called Bytes, allowing players to purchase Bytes with legal tender.
China-based esport provider VSPN (Versus Programming Network) recently raised $60 million in a Series B+ funding round, which it will use to expand its services overseas (among other initiatives). VSPN is proving itself a major force in Asia’s esports industry, as it facilitates a range of services: it’s a principal tournament organizer in China, and it also produces original esports content from its events for fans worldwide. VSPN CEO Dino Yang spoke to the recent funding round, saying: “The esports industry is through its nascent phase and is entering a new era. In this coming year, we at VSPN look forward to showcasing diversified esports products and content… and we are counting the days until the pandemic is over,” per TechCrunch.