Call of Duty Sells LA and Minnesota Spots, The International Prize Pool Exceeds $25M

Call of Duty Sells LA and Minnesota Spots, The International Prize Pool Exceeds $25M

Activision Blizzard LA and Minesota spots are sold for the upcoming Call of Duty League, Twitch reveals a “subscriber only” stream feature, and The International prize pool exceeds $25M.  […]

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Missed any of the biggest esports business news last week? The TEO Monday Morning Briefing recaps the top headlines

Activision Blizzard has selected Immortals Gaming Club (IGC) for a Los Angeles, California, slot in the upcoming franchised Call of Duty League (CDL). Immortals’ own announcement stated that the company’s team will compete under the recently-acquired OpTic Gaming brand.

Additionally, Activision Blizzard announced that WISE Ventures, an investment fund launched in late 2018 by Minnesota Vikings owners the Wilf Family, will operate a team based in Minnesota. VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuck will also join the ownership group as an investor.

Twitch’s new Subscriber Stream feature that allows content creators to broadcast exclusively to their paid subscription base may have less of an impact than it was initially speculated to have when it was unveiled last week.

Twitch began beta testing for these Subscriber Streams on June 26. Shortly after testing began though, numerous people in the gaming community began to notice that these subscriber-only streams, which effectively serve as a form of pay-to-view, could be interpreted as a violation of some game developers’ terms of service, which prohibits charging for video content featuring their games. Twitch has not yet responded to a request for comments from The Esports Observer about its new feature.

Dota 2’s The International (TI9) has broken last year’s prize pool record of $25.53M. The current prize pool has exceeded $25.64M, with an almost 1500% increase on the base prize pool of $1.6M. Funded by an in-game item pack known as the Battle Pass, The International is not only the biggest Dota 2 esports event of the year, but has also consistently been the esports tournament delivering the highest prize pool since 2011, when the first TI in Cologne, Germany, awarded $1.6M. At the current rate of increase, TI9 could even overtake the $30M prize pool Epic Games is providing for its Fortnite World Cup this month.

Riot Games has announced the first official tournament for its ranked League of Legends game mode Teamfight Tactics, set to take place July 17-18. The competition will be hosted by Twitch Rivals, Twitch’s influencer-based esports division. Sixty-four Twitch streamers will be invited to participate for a chance of winning a piece of the $125K prize pool. The full roster will be announced on July 8.

Sponsorships and Partnerships

The League of Legends Premier Tour will expand into a new regional league next year, as part of a new partnership between Riot Games , Freaks 4U Gaming, and Lagardère Sports. The multi-year agreement will focus on developing a sustainable ecosystem for German-speaking players, teams, and companies.

Brazilian esports organization FURIA announced a multi-year partnership with global sportswear brand Nike. A co-branded uniform was revealed during ESL One Cologne on July 2, where FURIA competed in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

Korean organization Team Griffin, owned by STILL8, has signed a deal with Chinese livestreaming platform HUYA to broadcast its streams in the country. STILL8 previously signed similar deals with rival Chinese streaming platform Douyu for other teams competing the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) competition.

Sports Betting & Esports: What's Next and How to Invest

Sports Betting & Esports: What’s Next and How to Invest

Full-Court Finance podcast from Zacks Investment Research where Associate Stock Strategist Ben Rains dives into the latest news from the world of legalized sports gambling and esports.  […]

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New reports show that New Jersey overtook Las Vegas as the U.S. sports betting capital—well at least for the month of May. The rise of mobile betting from the likes of DraftKings and others has helped the Garden State’s nascent sports gambling market take off. And it’s not just New Jersey that is ready to profit from legal sports betting.

In fact, 15 states and Washington D.C. now have legalized sports betting or passed legislation to introduce it soon. All of this has happened in roughly a year since the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The four major North American professional sports leagues all have gambling partnerships with either MGM Resorts (MGM – Free Report) or Caesars Entertainment (CZR – Free Report) . Meanwhile, the likes of Paddy Power BetFair PDYPY, William Hill WIMHY, Madison Square Garden (MSG – Free Report) , Penn National Gaming (PENN – Free Report) , Churchill Downs (CHDN – Free Report) , Boyd Gaming (BYD – Free Report) , and others all stand to benefit from the continued expansion of the sports betting market. On top of that, Disney’s (DIS – Free Report) ESPN and other media companies have rolled out betting-focused entertainment.

Along with the booming potential of the legalized sports gambling market, is professional video gaming. A few weeks ago, we talked about how Google (GOOGL – Free Report) and Microsoft (MSFT – Free Report) plan to square off in the cloud gaming market. Now, Simon Property Group SPG, which is the largest American mall owner, has bet on the rising popularity of esports as malls suffer in the Amazon (AMZN – Free Report) age.

Overall, global esports revenues are projected to reach an $1.1 billion in 2019, up 27% from 2018, according to NewZoo. Esports have become very popular in South Korea, China, Europe, and the U.S. The industry also has the potential to overtake the NFL in terms of viewership within the next few years, as it fights to become the next global sports. At the moment, more people reportedly prefer watching video games over Netflix (NFLX – Free Report) , HBO, ESPN, and Hulu combined.

Clearly, some of the gaming giants, such as Electronic Arts EA, Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI, and Take-Two Interactive TTWO stand to benefit from the growth of esports. But so do chipmakers like Nvidia NVDA and major sponsors such as Coca-Cola (KO – Free Report) .

As a reminder, if you feel that we missed something, or if you have any topic suggestions, shoot us an email at Make sure to check out all of our other audio content at, and remember to subscribe and leave us a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Looking for Stocks with Skyrocketing Upside?

Zacks has just released a Special Report on the booming investment opportunities of legal marijuana.

Ignited by new referendums and legislation, this industry is expected to blast from an already robust $6.7 billion to $20.2 billion in 2021. Early investors stand to make a killing, but you have to be ready to act and know just where to look.

CJ eSports signs aMSa, other Japanese Super Smash Bros. players

CJ eSports signs aMSa, other Japanese Super Smash Bros. players

Japanese esports organization CJ eSports officially began operations on July 7. The team currently consists of Super Smash Bros. Melee players Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto and Hitoshi “Sanne” Hatama. “Abu” joined the organization as a player and team manager. CJ eSports was founded by old-school Melee player Ryota “CaptainJack” Yoshida. […]

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CaptainJack initially announced his plan of forming an esports team near the end of 2018. At first, this simply involved providing prize pools for local Japanese tournaments. Of course, CJ eSports has now expanded to involve directly sponsoring Smash players from Japan.

CJ eSports has not yet announced if it will expand further in order to bring on more players. However, the company’s focus on Smash as a whole suggests that it may sponsor dedicated Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players in the future.

Meet the members of CJ eSports

While CaptainJack currently competes in both Melee and Ultimate, he is past his glory days as a competitor. However, he was one of the best players in the world during the early years of Melee, from about 2004 to 2008. In his prime, CaptainJack defeated Ken Hoang, Joel Isai Alvarado, Christopher “Azen” McMullen, Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez, and Amsah Augustuszoon.

As Japan’s best player and a top 10 player in the world, aMSa is naturally CJ eSports’ most renowned member. AMSa has placed in the top 8 of three major tournaments in 2019: GENESIS, Smash’N’Splash, and Smash Summit. He has only missed top 8 at one tournament, placing 9th at GOML 2019.

This year, aMSa has won sets against Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, Johnny “S2J” Kim, Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni, and Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby. He also boasts a 2-0 record over Joseph “Mang0” Marquez. Interestingly, CJ eSports is the third competitive gaming team that aMSa has joined. He is also a Red Bull athlete and a member of VGBootCamp.

AMSa is further a commentator for Japanese Super Smash Bros. Ultimate events. However, he does not compete in Ultimate as he did in Smash 4. This is because he playtested Ultimate during development, along with Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi, Yuya “9B” Araki, and Tomoyasu “Earth” Yamakawa.

Though he is not as well-known as aMSa, Sanne is currently one of the strongest players in Japan. In 2019, he has beaten Japanese greats like aMSa, “Shippu,” and Nao “Gucci” Iguchi. Sanne has only attended one supermajor this year, GENESIS 6 in February. There, he finished in 97th place.

Abu is a bit of an interesting pick-up on the part of CJ eSports. He is currently involved in the management of a host club, a form of Japanese nighttime entertainment. However, Abu does have a bit of a background in esports, having worked with programs like YUBIWAZA and Buzz e-Sports.

Top 10 Most-Watched Twitch Channels, H1 2019

Top 10 Most-Watched Twitch Channels, H1 2019

Credit: Riot Games The first six months of 2019 drew a very different picture than 2018 as esports headlined the top channels. Meanwhile, a decline in hours watched for 2018’s top streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has led to more parity among top influencers who have each had their moment […]

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Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ rapid rise to prominence was the top story during the first half of 2018. His stream with popular rapper Drake in March gave a boost to his popularity that he would leverage for the rest of the year through numerous events and activations meant to mobilize his viewers.

This year Blevins’ viewership has seen a market correction in the form of nearly 100M fewer hours watched, but his stream is still strong enough to be the second most-watched among influencers behind fellow Fortnite player Turner “Tfue” Tenney.

On the esports side of things, Riot Games’ re-working of top League of Legends professional scenes has helped generate viewership growth. The Overwatch League saw a decline in total hours watched from January-June of 2018 because of a change in the league’s scheduling. Last year, OWL’s season began in January, but this year it didn’t start regular season play until February.

Top Channel: Riot Games

Riot Games’ League of Legends European Championship (LEC) began competition in 2019 with a fresh brand and increased viewership from 2018, and combined with the LoL Championship Series (LCS), the two leagues have produced consistent growth so far this year.

The North American LoL Championship Series led the way for Riot’s esports by moving to a franchise-model last year, and the European LCS emulated that reformation and used the opportunity to re-brand as well. The result for each league was a boost in viewership for the Spring Split as well as its playoffs.

Overall, Riot Games’ average viewership hasn’t increased astronomically. This year’s average concurrent viewership of 51K for all viewership is only up 4K from an average of 47K CCV in 2018 from January through June. However, the addition of around 100 hours or airtime in 2019 helped the Riot Games channel produce close to 13M more hours watched compared to 2018.

What’s Trending: Personal Parity

There’s no disputing that 2018 was dominated by Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, but this year has been a story of volatility among Twitch’s top streamers. Every influencer in the top 10 for the first half of the year has spent some amount of time as the top influencer on Twitch.

Turner “Tfue” Tenney has maintained his presence around the top due in part to his dedication to playing Fortnite at a highly competitive professional level. Blevins has continued to leverage his popularity and charisma to keep strong viewership. Meanwhile, Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, and Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris have each taken turns at the top of Twitch by playing titles that have each had a short moment in the spotlight.

Lazar, who has had the strongest viewership of the three, drew attention for his Sea of Thieves play early in the year, and then he was at the forefront of Grand Theft Auto V’s rise. Grzesiek obtained his strongest viewership immediately following the release of Apex Legends due in part to his previous popularity as a PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS streamer.

Morris is the most recent influencer to turn up the heat when the World of Warcraft Classic beta attracted the attention of fans looking for a taste of nostalgia. While Morris hadn’t played WoW in a while, the allure of playing the game in its original form appealed to him as well as numerous other influencers.Top 10 Most-Watched Twitch Channels, H1 2019

Team Liquid win Intel Grand Slam in impressive time frame

Team Liquid win Intel Grand Slam in impressive time frame

The second iteration of the Intel Grand Slam – a prodigious award that recognises the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team in the world – has been seized by North American organisation Team Liquid […]

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Announced in June 2017, the Intel Grand Slam was introduced as a new and distinguished accolade for professional CS:GO teams to strive for over the course of a season. Incentivised by a lofty $1,000,000 (£797,730) prize purse, the Intel Grand Slam acknowledges the first CS:GO team to win four out of last ten premier tournaments hosted by ESL or DreamHack.

Last year, RFRSH Entertainment’s Astralis secured the inaugural Intel Grand Slam prize on the team’s home ground of Odense, Denmark, at the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals.

This year, it was North American rivals, Team Liquid, who would collect the prize at ESL One Cologne. The roster achieved this by winning four successive events that qualify for the Intel Grand Slam – taking a mere 63 days in total from start to finish. Although the feat is widely extraordinary and considered to be upheld without contention for quite some time, there is some looming question as to whether the tournament prize series will have a third iteration.

With Team Liquid capturing this year’s prize so swiftly, sustainability of the tournament prize series’ continuation appears to be in doubt by the general public; it’s unlikely ESL and Intel intended on awarding the towering jackpot this frequently. reportedly contacted ESL around whether or not the Intel Grand Slam would return for a third iteration – however, the coompany declined to comment. Michal “CARMAC” Blicharz, VP of Pro Gaming at ESL hinted towards the Intel Grand Slam having a third season in a tweet following the conclusion of the tournament. At the time of writing, there has yet to be any formal announcement of whether or not the Intel Grand Slam will carry on next year.

Top 10 Most-Watched Twitch Channels, July 1 – 7

Top 10 Most-Watched Twitch Channels, July 1 – 7

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ’s ESL One: Cologne 2019 event led the week in viewership boasting the top two channels while League of Legends and Overwatch esports leagues saw less viewership due to fewer games.  […]

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Meanwhile, influencers have continued to experience a summer slump with no personality generating more than 2M hours watched for a second straight week.

The following channels are ranked according to the total number of hours watched on Twitch from Monday to the following Sunday, with data compiled using TEO Access.

On The Offensive

ESL is known for its ability to put on a CS:GO event that generates strong viewership, and this past weekend’s ESL One: Cologne did just that. Not only did it provide us with the top channel of the week that generated 5.9M hours watched, but the Russian-language channel covering the event also added another 2.2M hours watched.

ESL One is not a Major, but this past weekend’s 16-team tournament from July 2-7 included a group stage, playoffs, and a $300K prize pool. The grand finals on Sunday generated 1.2M hours watched alone over seven hours of airtime averaging 169K concurrent viewers and peaking at 271K.

Missing Time

The chart for hours watched this past week shows a dip in week-over-week viewership for both Riot Games and the Overwatch League , but this is a situation where total hours watched doesn’t show the entire picture for OWL or LoL esports.

As OWL headed to Atlanta for its second-ever homestead event, the league only had two days of competition with four matches being played each of those days. Typically a weekend of OWL begins on Thursday and goes through Sunday with 2-4 matches being played each day.

Meanwhile, a break in action for the LoL European Championship this past week left only LoL Championship Series games to be played on Riot Games channel causing a drop in total hours watched despite live sessions having 73K and 67K CCV, peaking at 140K CCV for the weekend.


Free-to-play third-person shooting game Warframe doesn’t typically draw much attention on Twitch, but this past weekend’s TennoCon is one example of where the title game gain viewers.

TennoCon serves as the convention where fans can see what’s new with Warframe, similar to BlizzCon for Blizzard Entertainment’s games, and while the event only took place for one day, it managed to average strong enough viewership to beat out all influencers and many esports competitions this week.

The official Warframe channel posted the highest average viewership for all channels with 179K CCV, and it also posted the strongest peak viewership with 317K CCV, beating out ESL One Cologne’s 271K CCV peak.

Data Shows Razer is Struggling to Attract Pro eSports Players

Data Shows Razer is Struggling to Attract Pro eSports Players

Try as it might, Razer ( HKG:1337 ) can’t seem to get the same amount of attention from professional eSports athletes as its rivals. According to data sourced from ProSettings , a site that aggregates the peripheral configurations eSports athletes use, Razer lags behind its rivals Logitech and HyperX […]

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According to data sourced from ProSettings, a site that aggregates the peripheral configurations eSports athletes use, Razer lags behind its rivals Logitech and HyperX for a total share of the gaming peripherals used by eSports athletes. In this case, ‘gaming peripherals’ are defined as an average of the total Mouse, Mouse Pad, Keyboards, and Headsets used by pro eSports players.

According to the data, 11% of all eSports athletes professionally playing PUBG and Fortnite — the two most popular games out today — use Razer gaming peripherals. Razer is virtually tied with SteelSeries, while HyperX and Logitech are ahead with approximately 14.7% and 22.5% respectively. Corsair is next, with 6.6% followed by Zowie with 6.5%.

Breaking this down, as of July 2019 Razer holds about 7.4% of the pro eSports athlete Mouse market taking fourth place; approximately 5% of the Mouse Pad market coming in at sixth; 19% of the Keyboard market at second place; and less than 1% of the Headset market, coming in at 15th.

What should be concerning to Razer executives is that the company has lost market share this year to Logitech, Zowie, and Final Mouse in the mouse category. Analysis of the data from January of this year showed Razer with 13.7% of the mouse market, dropping to 7.4% by July. In contrast, Logitech increased its share from 41% to 53% while Zowie went from 16% to 17%. Final Mouse dropped its overall market share from 12% to 10%, but still managed to beat Razer.

To be sure, the data from ProSettings isn’t market share. Nor is it shipments. It’s something else: mindshare. Market share of this ‘mindshare’ market is incredibly important for Razer.

The strength of Razer, as a company, is its brand. Despite claims that Razer is “The Apple of the Gaming World” the reality of the company’s fortunes doesn’t quite add up to this moniker. One of the biggest growth stories for Razer is its branded payments app, not gaming gear. It’s notebooks and gaming smartphones ship in thin volumes: approximately 140,000 per year for notebooks and roughly 45,000 a year for smartphones. Granted, these are intended to be niche products though as Asus (TPE:2357) or MSI (TPE:2377) would ship double the number of gaming notebooks in a year. In short, Razer doesn’t sell many things compared to some of its peers. That’s not where its value is.

Which is why eSports is such an important market for Razer, and a big concern. eSports athletes, just like their ball-and-puck counterparts, use specific equipment for two reasons: sponsorship or the genuine quality of the gear. For companies, this is another channel for sales. Companies with bigger pockets eventually will be able to spend more to equip all the popular players with their own products and take more market share over time. Sponsorship occurs because it encourages a sales funnel — if consumers see professionals using the gear they are likely to buy it. So, a bonus would be organic, non-sponsored use by an eSports athlete; this genuine endorsement would both help promote sales and be a testament to the quality of the product.

Per their earnings reports, Razer and Logitech have similar Marketing & Selling budgets so for that matchup it’s not a battle of the budgets — Logitech has the edge over Razer given its quality. SteelSeries and FinalMouse are privately held, while BenQ, Zowie’s parent company, doesn’t break out earnings data for that subsidiary.

That being said SteelSeries is objectively the smallest company in revenue of the lot. Thus, it’s adoption by eSports athletes is probably more organic rather than sponsored. BenQ, Zowie’s parent, is a technology giant with revenue that far surpasses Razer or Logitech. Zowie’s success no doubt comes from sponsorship.

If Razer’s share of the devices used by pro eSports players is slipping, that’s not an encouraging sign for the company. Razer is not necessarily outmatched by its rivals in spending ability, with the exception of Zowie. It’s product lineup is simply getting stagnant; the success of FinalMouse is a perfect example of that. FinalMouse, with a scant marketing budget (it’s only sponsored a small number of influencers, ships in small batches. Usually, you require an invite code to access their store. But pro eSports athletes have voted with their wallet.

Misfits Gaming Partners with Outerstuff for Esports Apparel Venture

Misfits Gaming Partners with Outerstuff for Esports Apparel Venture

Credit: Misfits Gaming Misfits Gaming and apparel brand Outerstuff have formed a joint esports apparel venture. The debut line will feature apparel from Misfits and the Florida Mayhem before expanding to include IP from other companies. 

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  • Outerstuff will handle day-to-day operations, while Misfits Gaming will oversee relationships with stakeholders in and around the esports industry.

    Misfits Gaming has announced a joint venture with youth sports apparel company Outerstuff, which will release branded esports apparel from both Misfits’ own brands and IP from other companies.

    Initially, the global venture will produce a line of apparel based on Misfits Gaming and its sister Florida Mayhem Overwatch League team, and will “expand to other esports brands in the future,” according to a release. The clothing will be sold both online and through retail stores.

    As part of the joint venture, Outerstuff has made a strategic equity investment in Misfits Gaming. Outerstuff will handle day-to-day operations of the initiative along with apparel design, marketing, sales, and distribution. Misfits Gaming, on the other hand, will oversee relationships with stakeholders such as leagues, tournament organizers, and influencers.

    “Esports has a global fanbase that is unrivaled in its enthusiasm and passion, but audiences are hindered by the limited quality and availability of licensed apparel from teams and brands,” said Misfits Gaming CEO and co-founder Ben Spoont, in a release. “This is especially true in regions like China, where the population of gamers outnumbers the total U.S. population, but fans are unable to access official esports merchandise from many of their favorite global brands.”

    “As a team owner myself, I’ve experienced firsthand the many issues relating to designing, manufacturing, and distributing the apparel that fans are clamoring to purchase,” he continued. “Outerstuff’s global operations (including its retail channels in Asia and four other continents) and experience creating and distributing official apparel for the NFL, NBA, and other traditional sports leagues bring critical industry-leading expertise across the entire apparel value chain.”

    Outerstuff was founded in 1983 and has produced youth apparel for all of the major U.S. traditional sports leagues, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee and more than 200 colleges and universities. Misfits Gaming also has a franchised league spot in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC).

Wide World of Esports: NVIDIA GeForce Anchors The International 2019 in Shanghai

No pressure. The DOTA 2 International Tournament 2019 opens in August at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The stakes – at $25 million and growing, already twice that of golf’s Masters Tournament – are huge. And once again, NVIDIA will provide unshakeable reliability and unmatched performance. The tournament will […]

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And once again, NVIDIA will provide unshakeable reliability and unmatched performance. The tournament will feature GeForce RTX 2080 graphics cards and 240Hz G-Sync monitors.

18 Squads Fight for Championship, Record Prize Pool

TI9’s pool – funded by Valve, which has chipped in $1.6 million, and DOTA players worldwide – is expected to ultimately reach $30 million, exceeding the record of $25 million of TI8.

That pool has attracted the world’s top teams. Twelve already qualify for TI9 through points from events all over the world. Another six will qualify through regionals in China, Southeast Asia, North and South America, Russia and Europe Aug. 15-18.

The final battle begins Aug. 20.

GeForce is the Platform of Choice for Esports

The spectacle promises to be another high point in our decades-long investment in esports.

Pro players and tournament organizers worldwide recognize GeForce GPUs as best in class. And this year’s event reflects the gaming community’s embrace of our Turing GPU architecture.

Launched last August, the Turing-based GeForce RTX 20 series has become the standard for top tournaments.

Maximizing the number of frames-per-second can be the difference between victory and defeat. That’s why more than 95 percent of pro gamers choose GeForce.

And our G-SYNC monitors provides a 240Hz refresh rate and low latency. The result: ultra-fast game response and a stable gaming environment. No delays, dropping frames or image tearing.

China’s First GeForce Boot Camp in Shanghai

Besides hardware support for teams and TI events, NVIDIA also offers GeForce Esports boot camps for our sponsored teams.

To expand those efforts, we’re launching the Shanghai GeForce Esports Studio ahead of TI9. Our Shanghai studio joins GeForce Esports studios in Santa Clara, Calif., and Munich.

Squads from the GeForce Esports family attending TI9 will boot camp in the new Shanghai studio. They’ll practice on the same platform – GeForce RTX and G-SYNC – featured at The International.

So who will come out on top? You’ll need to tune in.

Industry veterans fear an esports bubble

Industry veterans fear an esports bubble

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios Whether it’s the seven-figure salaries or the hundreds of millions of dollars investors are pouring in, the esports industry appears to be doing quite nicely — but some industry veterans disagree. What they’re saying: 18 of them told Kotaku that they are worried esports is a […]

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What they’re saying: 18 of them told Kotaku that they are worried esports is a bubble, with some describing it merely as “inflated” and others as “completely unsustainable.” Esports veteran Frank Field said it was nearly “a Ponzi scheme,” adding, “Everyone I talk to in this industry kind of acknowledges the fact that there is value in esports, but it is not nearly the value that is getting hyped these days.”

What’s at play:

1. Sketchy numbers: It was widely reported that last year’s League of Legends World Championship drew more viewers than the Super Bowl — the kind of headline that could turn even the biggest esports skeptic into a believer. Turns out, those numbers were unreliable, misleading and potentially even inflated, per Kotaku.

  • Unreliable: When it comes to, say, an NFL game, viewership numbers are reported by a third party like Nielsen. In esports, viewership numbers are reported by either the game publishers, the esports teams or the streaming platform. Pretty big conflict of interest.
  • Misleading: A Super Bowl viewer must watch for six minutes to register with Nielsen’s tracking. For esports, someone can briefly scroll past a livestream and count as a viewer.
  • Inflated: Multiple esports tournaments have paid to have their livestream embedded across hundreds of websites affiliated with a company called Curse, Kotaku reports. This results in numbers that don’t actually represent engaged humans.

    2. Lack of revenue: Multiple leagues have shuttered due to money problems and one industry analyst estimates that as many as 89% of esports teams are operating at a loss. Investment keeps coming in, though.

    The big picture: Investors have flocked to esports because they don’t want to miss out on “the next big thing.” They have no problem burning through cash if the opportunity is big enough, but eventually they want to see a return.

    • That promise of a future payout is strung along by eye-popping viewership numbers and overall hype. If those numbers are inflated — and the hype somewhat unearned — the industry could fall short of expectations.

      The bottom line: Any outside observer can see that there is value in esports. But if we are to believe a contingent of those on the inside, it’s nowhere near the numbers being thrown around.