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#NBA #Esports investment ‘a long-term play’ that will be ‘around for decades’ $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:20 AM on Monday, October 16th, 2017

“This is a massive industry, and we think we have a place in it.

  • Next year, the National Basketball Association will officially enter the world of esports by way of its NBA 2K League
  • Managing director Brendan Donohue has now billed the association’s esports involvement as “a long-term play” that he reckons will span multiple decades.

By Joe Donnelly 4 hours ago

Next year, the National Basketball Association will officially enter the world of esports by way of its NBA 2K League. Managing director Brendan Donohue has now billed the association’s esports involvement as “a long-term play” that he reckons will span multiple decades.

In conversation with Gamesindustry.biz, Donohue suggests the NBA is confident of its place in esports and that the success of the NBA 2K series makes the jump a “logical” step.

“We have great data on NBA fans, and that’s a massive audience,” says Donohue. “We see that NBA fans are more likely to play video games, and actually more likely to engage in esports than fans of other sports. We think there’s a pretty nice marriage here.

“I don’t think you have to be a fan of 2K to enjoy watching. That’s one of our advantages: the NBA 2K game, and basketball more broadly, are globally recognisable. You can watch having never played the 2K game before and understand what’s going on. That gives an advantage with that more casual audience. [Games like League of Legends] are awesome games, but they can be intimidating [to watch] of you’ve never played them.”

Donohue points to the fact League of Legends finals have pulled bigger audiences than the Oscars, and that awareness isn’t something he or his team consider an issue. That said, Donohue also describes revenues as “a secondary goal right now”, and that building scale is their current focus.

He continues: “There’s a significant appetite for the game in the US, but more importantly globally. We have a free version of the game in China that has 34 million registered users. That suggests there’s a global appetite for the game; in fact, I don’t think people understand how big the 2K game is globally.

“This is a long-term play for us. We expect this to be around for decades, so the primary goal is building an audience, doing that in the right way, and creating an environment where our players can be successful. We’re confident the revenues will follow if we do that right.”

The NBA 2K League is set to kick off next year. Gamesindustry.biz’s interview with Donohue in full can be read in this direction.

Source: http://www.pcgamer.com/nba-esports-investment-a-long-term-play-that-will-be-around-for-decades/

#Blockchain Technology Could Be A Game Changer In #Esports $GMBL #Blockstation

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:31 AM on Thursday, October 12th, 2017
Darren Heitner , Contributor
Eloplay

A diagram that seeks to explain the process of participating in an Eloplay Smart Tournament.

The esports industry is rapidly evolving, going from content consumed largely through streaming platforms such as Twitch to network-backed streaming service Hulu picking up four new esports series, gradually making the watching of esports even more mainstream. Meanwhile, the players themselves are gaining more options with regard to the currency that surrounds the competitions.

For instance, esports platform Eloplay, which has been in existence for more than eighteen months and provides a service that allows players to organize and participate in esports tournaments, is testing out a new form of currency for its users. It is an example of an esports-related entity involving itself in the blockchain and leveraging smart contracts technology to allow players and brands to organize esports tournaments of any scale, using Eloplay Tokens as the prize pool.

And much like other companies testing the blockchain waters, Eloplay is involving itself in what is called an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), allowing users to buy-in so that they can use the coins to organize tournaments, place advertisements or even sell tokens through its exchange. This all takes place on a decentralized platform that remains largely unregulated, for the time being. Although even that appears to be changing.

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) recently stated that ICOs will begin to be regulated as securities and that unregistered offerings may be subject to criminal punishment.

“Whether a particular investment transaction involves the offer or sale of a security – regardless of the terminology or technology used – will depend on the facts and circumstances, including the economic realities of the transaction,” stated the SEC in its press release on the matter.

“We seek to foster innovative and beneficial ways to raise capital, while ensuring – first and foremost – that investors and our markets are protected,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.

Thus far, 90,000 individuals are registered to participate on the Eloplay esports platform and they have completed a total of roughly 3,500 tournaments. Eloplay’s desire is to convert existing participants into Eloplay Token purchasers through the ICO and to use that to generate further interest in using the platform.

Eloplay’s Token Sale begins October 16 and is scheduled to close November 15. Bonuses are offered to individuals who participate early in the process. The currency accepted is Ethereum, which is a widely utilized cryptocurrency.

Darren Heitner is the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C. and Sports Agent Blog. He authored the book, How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.

Follow @DarrenHeitner

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenheitner/2017/10/11/blockchain-technology-could-be-a-game-changer-in-esports/#741e81b944c6

Lambton College opens gaming arena, offers cutting-edge #Esports diploma $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 2:23 PM on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

  • It started with a suggestion from the IT department.
  • Now it is part of the curriculum
  • Lambton College is becoming a Canadian leader in the burgeoning world of esports

The college, whose main campus is in Sarnia, Ont., has added esports to its varsity sports lineup — alongside men’s and women’s basketball and soccer — and next year will begin offering a cutting-edge two-year diploma in esports entrepreneurship and administration.

Lambton already has a dedicated gaming space — called the esports arena — with 20 high-end computers up and running. It’s in a prime piece of real estate, right in the middle of campus.

“The feedback’s been excellent, just in terms of the uniqueness of this,” says Rob Kardas, vice-president of student success and campus service at Lambton College.

Lambton believes the course is a door into the largely untapped academic world of esports and a way to differentiate itself from other schools.

Goldman Sachs valued the world of esports at US$500 million in 2016, with expected market growth of 22 per cent annually compounded over the next three years into a more than $1-billion business.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment got a first-hand look at the draw of esports when the North American “League of Legends” championship sold out the Air Canada Centre in two days in August 2016.

MLSE, owner of the NBA Raptors, subsequently signed up for the NBA 2K esports league, slated to debut in 2018.

In taking the esports course, Lambton students will study communications, sports marketing, finance, ethical leadership, teamwork, social media, health promotion, entrepreneurship and business development.

Courses will also cover the history of esports, industry hardware/software, game design and computer networking. A practical project course will ask students to use that knowledge to plan, develop and execute real-world esports projects.

The first class is expected to number some 40 students.

Graduates of the course will also have the option of continuing on to the college’s three-year sports and recreation management program.

The Lambton Lions esports teams, meanwhile, will compete against other North American schools in the Collegiate Starleague. Teams were chosen after open tryouts in “Overwatch,” “League of Legends” and “Counter Strike: Global Offensive.”

Dave Mastrobuono, a Sarnia native and Lambton graduate, has been named head coach. A former pro gamer himself, Mastrobuono is a certified service technician at the school.

College officials believe the gaming arena, which cost $140,000 to $150,000 to set up, will add to the social side of student life. It will also be open to the community.

Lambton officials visited Chicago’s Robert Morris University, a leader in the collegiate esports field and the first school to offer gaming scholarships, while putting together their program.

Robert Morris associate athletic director Kurt Melcher, Collegiate Starleague vice-president Neil Duffy, SetToDestroyX gaming team owner Charlie Watson and officials from Twitch, a popular live streaming video gaming platform, were among the industry experts who helped Lambton develop its course.

Rick Brown, a mobile device specialist in the Lambton IT department, was also a key mover in the expansion into esports.

Duffy says Lambton is the first Canadian school to make esports a varsity program, joining more than 40 schools in the U.S.

But other Canadian schools also compete in gaming tournaments. The University of British Columbia, which also has its own gaming lounge, has had great success gaming.

Lambton is using esports researcher James Kozachuk of the University of Central Florida as its “subject matter expert” in the area.

The course itself has met the necessary approval of Lambton’s board of governors, a program advisory committee of industry experts, Ontario’s Credential Validation Service and Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

It was a learning experience for the college.

Donna Church, vice-president, academic, at Lambton, says she like many parents had thought of esports as “that little troll in the basement.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “It’s actually a highly social sport.”

Lambton has 3,500 full-time and some 6,500 part-time students plus some 800 international students. The college is ranked No. 1 in Ontario and No. 3 in Canada in applied research, according to Research Infosource Inc.

Source: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/entertainment-pmn/lambton-college-opens-gaming-arena-offers-cutting-edge-esports-diploma

Microsoft $MSFT could become the #Ticketmaster of #Esports analyst says $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 3:17 PM on Thursday, October 5th, 2017
  • Microsoft is headed for a “sustained period of accelerating growth” driven by its cloud computing, office productivity software and potential esports cash cows, according to Canaccord Genuity.
  • “Perhaps Microsoft could become the Ticketmaster of eSports, maybe they could run leagues,” the firm’s analyst writes.

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft

Getty Images
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft

Microsoft’s growth could get a boost from its latest Xbox launch as well as its exploration of the growing esports industry, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Canaccord Genuity upgraded Microsoft shares to buy from hold Wednesday, noting that the Xbox maker could give more credibility to the budding world of esports, which is centered on video game tournaments and already attracts thousands of participants and viewers.

“In our view, this is both an area of future internal development and prospective M&A,” wrote analyst Richard Davis. “With regard to M&A, perhaps Microsoft could become the Ticketmaster of eSports, maybe they could run leagues.”

Microsoft is set to release its latest generation of Xbox, called the Xbox One X, in November. Davis added that Microsoft‘s office productivity programs and its cloud computing platform, Azure, could also accelerate growth.

Shares of Microsoft rose 0.5 percent shortly after Thursday’s market open. The company’s stock is up 20 percent year to date through Wednesday.

The analyst raised his price target for Microsoft shares to $86, which is 15 percent higher than Wednesday’s closing price. His old target was $76.

Esports are turning a lot of heads lately. Industry revenue is expected to hit $1.1 billion in 2019, and roughly 76 percent of esports fans claim the virtual tournaments are overtaking their time spent watching traditional sporting events, according to research firm Newzoo.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently made headlines by purchasing one of seven teams for the Overwatch League, a popular online game produced by Activision Blizzard.

“For brands, media, and entertainment companies, esports provides a chance to capitalize on the favorite pastime of digital natives and Millennials: playing games and watching game content,” Newzoo’s analysts wrote in the firm’s annual esports market report.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/05/microsoft-could-become-the-ticketmaster-of-esports-analyst-says.html

Esports Entertainment Group $GMBL to Acquire Bet Exchange Software Company #Esports #Gaming #Egambling

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 8:05 AM on Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Esports large

  • Announced the execution of a Letter of Intent to acquire all of the issued and outstanding securities of Ardmore Investments SP. Z O.O, a subsidiary of Switzerland based gambling software developer Swiss Interactive Software GmbH

ST. MARY’S, ANTIGUA–(Oct 5, 2017) – Esports Entertainment Group, Inc. (OTCQB: GMBL) (or the “Company”), a licensed online gambling company with a specific focus on eSports wagering and 18+ gaming, is pleased to announce the execution of a Letter of Intent to acquire all of the issued and outstanding securities of Ardmore Investments SP. Z O.O, (“Ardmore”), a subsidiary of Switzerland based gambling software developer Swiss Interactive Software GmbH (“Swiss Interactive”).

ACQUISITION OF SOURCE CODE

Swiss Interactive’s Ardmore is the developer and owner of the source code of the Bet Exchange Software utilized to create the Company’s Esports wagering platform, as well as, other gaming and gambling software. Given the imminent launch of the Esports wagering platform, as well as, the Company’s online gaming expansion plans for the foreseeable future, Esports Entertainment Group made the strategic decision to acquire Ardmore in order to protect the source code from potential competitors and to acquire a proven development team.

Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group, stated, “Owning our bet exchange technology and acquiring the development team behind it significantly strengthens our position within the Esports wagering space. As we are on the verge of launching the world’s first, most secure and transparent Esports bet exchange, the time was right to acquire the core technologies supporting our disruptive business model.”

In connection with the acquisition, the Company will issue 1,750,000 common shares and pay USD $250,000. Ardmore is a Polish corporation with offices in Warsaw, Poland. The transaction is expected to close within four weeks.

This press release is available on our Online Investor Relations Community for shareholders and potential shareholders to ask questions, receive answers and collaborate with management in a fully moderated forum at https://agoracom.com/ir/EsportsEntertainmentGroup

About Esports Entertainment Group

Esports Entertainment Group Inc. is a licensed online gambling company specifically focused on Esports wagering and 18+ gaming. Initially, Esports Entertainment intends to offer bet exchange style wagering on esports events in a licensed, regulated and secured platform to the global esports audience, excluding the US and EU. In addition, Esports Entertainment intends to offer users from around the world the ability to participate in multi-player mobile and PC video game tournaments for cash prizes. Esports Entertainment is led by a team of industry professionals and technical experts from the online gambling and the video game industries, and esports. The Company holds licenses to conduct online gambling and 18+ gaming on a global basis, excluding the US and EU, in Curacao, Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Canada. The Company maintains offices in Antigua. Esports Entertainment common stock is listed on the OTCQB under the symbol GMBL. For more information visit www.esportsentertainmentgroup.com

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
The information contained herein includes forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or to our future financial performance, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to be materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements since they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which are, in some cases, beyond our control and which could, and likely will, materially affect actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Any forward-looking statement reflects our current views with respect to future events and is subject to these and other risks, uncertainties and assumptions relating to our operations, results of operations, growth strategy and liquidity. We assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future. The safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 protects companies from liability for their forward-looking statements if they comply with the requirements of the Act.

Contact Information

 

Contact:

Corporate Finance Inquiries
Stephen Cotugno
Vice President, Corporate Development
steve@esportsentertainmentgroup.com
201-220-5745

Investor Relations Inquiries
AGORACOM
ESPO@agoracom.com
http://agoracom.com/ir/eSportsEntertainmentGroup

Marshawn Lynch, Alex Rodriguez Among Investors in #NRG #Esports Team $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:33 AM on Friday, September 29th, 2017
CORRECTS TO LOS ANGELES DODGERS, INSTEAD OF ANGELS - Former New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez watches batting practice before a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

  • A number of high-profile athletes are reportedly among the investors in NRG Esports.
  • ESPN.com reported “NRG Esports is in the process of closing a $15 million Series B financing round.” Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, former New York Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan and former MLB outfielder Marlon Byrd are some of those who invested

On Thursday, Jacob Wolf of ESPN.com reported “NRG Esports is in the process of closing a $15 million Series B financing round.” Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, former New York Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan and former MLB outfielder Marlon Byrd are some of those who invested.

Wolf’s report noted Rodriguez previously invested in NRG Esports and will now join the company’s board following his latest investment.

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was among the previous investors in 2016.

In addition to the athletes, Sacramento Kings minority owner Kevin Nagle also invested. There is a natural Kings connection with NRG Esports considering founders Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov own a stake in the team.

In terms of the latest round of investors, Lynch came out of retirement and joined the Raiders this season. Rodriguez last played during the 2016 season for the Yankees, hit 696 career home runs and is currently a broadcaster for Fox. Byrd suited up for 10 different teams during his career and also last played during the 2016 season, while Strahan is a Hall of Famer and current television personality.

Source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2735763-marshawn-lynch-alex-rodriguez-among-investors-in-nrg-esports-team

The #NBA’s big #Esports push begins in May 2018 $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:53 AM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017
  • Seventeen teams from the NBA will be part of the upcoming 2K League,
  • Competition it created in partnership with Take-Two Interactive, the developer of the popular NBA 2K series
  • league is going to have its first season next May

The line between eSports and traditional sports is blurring, and organizations like the National Basketball Association are looking to stay ahead of the curve. Seventeen teams from the NBA will be part of the upcoming 2K League, a competition it created in partnership with Take-Two Interactive, the developer of the popular NBA 2K series. And that league is going to have its first season next May, NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue revealed to Engadget in a recent interview.

He also said that participating NBA teams will begin drafting their eSports players in mid-March 2018, with tryouts taking place a month before that. Once each franchise selects the five people who are going to represent it, they’ll be official members of their respective organizations in April. Yes, that means they will get a proper contract and sponsorship deals, just as NBA players do.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick
Since being announced in February, the NBA 2K League (initially known as the NBA 2K eLeague) has piqued the interest of both fans of professional gaming and conventional sports. That’s mostly because this is the first league where eSports squads are owned by professional sports organization such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, two of the teams that will play in the 2K League. Traditionally, ownership of eSports teams are by firms like Cloud9, which fields players Rocket League, League of Legends and Call of Duty and other gaming tournaments.

Along with the Cavs and Warriors, the rest of the teams in the first season of the 2K League include the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.

Donohue said that aside from these, there “four or five” others that have already reached out with interest in being part of the second year. There are 30 NBA teams total, and some of the notable absences from the 2K League include the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, three of the most decorated franchises in league history. “We would expect to expand pretty quickly,” he said.

Until that happens, though, Donohue said the NBA is focused on ironing out a few more key details. For starters, the league and its partner, Take-Two Interactive, are still trying to determine how the tryout process will work and whether official games are going to be played on PC, PlayStation or Xbox. They’ve also yet to lock down where people will be able to watch the 2K League.

Donohue said media rights are still being worked out, but the idea is to have studios on the East and West Coasts that broadcast or stream the games. It’ll be interesting to see if the NBA strikes a deal with a platform like Twitch or one of the many TV networks trying to take eSports into the mainstream. ESPN, NBC and TBS could all make a move, though it’s also worth keeping in mind that the NBA has its own TV network, NBA TV.

One thing is certain: The NBA 2K League is taking shape rather quickly, especially when you consider that it was unveiled a few months ago.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/26/nba-2k-league-draft-tryouts-interview/

Madison Square Garden Company Appoints Head of #Esports Division $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:48 AM on Friday, September 22nd, 2017

  • Esports are second only to movies in the 18 to 25 demographic
  • Nick Allen, who until recently was the vice president of esports for video streaming service Twitch, was named the head of Madison Square Gard Company’s “growing esports division,” effective October 2nd

Nick Allen, who until recently was the vice president of esports for video streaming service Twitch, was named the head of Madison Square Gard Company’s “growing esports division,” effective October 2nd, according to the company.

Allen will be responsible for driving the company’s efforts to expand its presence in the esports industry, with a primary focus on operating Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), MSG’s newly acquired esports franchise. In his new role, Allen will serve as CLG’s chief operating officer, working with CLG Founder and President George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis on advancing the company’s initiatives, including creating live, tickets events. He will also be in charge of creating esports events at MSG venues across the country.

The Madison Square Garden Company operated a number of high profile venues around the country including New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston. The company also owns the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers and the New York Liberty (WNBA).

This July, Madison Square Garden bought a controlling interest in Counter Logic Gaming, which was founded in 2010 as a League of Legends team. CLG now fields teams in a variety of esports including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Hearthstone, Call of Duty and Super Smash Bros.

“We couldn’t be happier with the addition of Nick to our team here at MSG as we start to take a leadership role in the growth of the esports industry,” Jordan Solomon, executive vice president, MSG Sports, Madison Square Garden Company, said in a prepared statement. “Nick brings with him an extensive knowledge of esports and a deep set of relationships developed through overseeing some of the industry’s most popular events, and he has created initiatives that have continued to grow the gaming community. His vision for the esports space will be an invaluable asset to The Madison Square Garden Company and to CLG.”

Prior to joining Twitch in 2015, Allen was the esports operations manager for Riot Games, establishing the organization’s first team dedicated to the operation of esports competitions, including League of Legends World Championships, Championship Series, and Challenger Series. Before Riot Games, he served as an esports division and operations manager for IGN Entertainment.

Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/news/madison-square-garden-company-appoints-esports-head-w504697

Here’s why professional #sports teams are buying #Esports teams $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 8:17 AM on Thursday, September 21st, 2017

WATCH VIDEO HERE

  • TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017 we sat down with three experts from the esports world to explain why you should start paying attention to the industry.
  • Heather Garozzo, a former competitive Counter Strike player and current Director of Fan Marketing for Team Dignitas, told us what a day in the life of a professional esports player is like.
  • And surprisingly, it’s not all that different from a traditional athlete.

Besides spending upwards of five hours a day practicing, players also work with coachs and study gameplay film, receive media and press training, and even attend mandatory workout sessions to make sure they keep in shape. Most professional teams also employ private chefs to make sure players are eating healthy meals.

The conversation then shifted to the difference between professional sports and esports, and why the sports industry is so focused on getting into the sports business. Stratton Sclavos, a partner at Vision Venture Partners and the former CEO of the San Jose Sharks, explained how traditional sports teams can help esports teams scale and benefit from the lessons that professional sports teams have learned in the past.

And Craig Barry, EVP and Chief Content Officer for Turner Sports, explained the differences between esports broadcasting and traditional sports broadcasting, and how advertisers are getting creative when it comes to targeting esports fans.

Watch the video above to see the full talk and hear more about the world of esports.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/20/heres-why-professional-sports-teams-are-buying-esports-teams/

Toronto Raptors, #NBA take ‘logical’ step into new frontier: Elite #Esports league $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:26 AM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Could the day come where more people watch the video-game avatars of average folks than superstar NBA athletes?

Don’t laugh. The growth of esports — defined as “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers” — has been nothing short of staggering.

Millions of people love to watch these top-notch players show their stuff. Sometimes, they even fill up arenas, and it’s only getting bigger and bigger every year.

The NBA joined forces with Take-Two Interactive, publisher of the NBA 2K video game series, to create a new league that will begin play in 2018, with 17 NBA franchises, including the Toronto Raptors, taking part in the inaugural season.

“It all started last February, when (NBA commissioner Adam Silver) and Strauss Zelnick (CEO of Take-Two) announced we were going to be doing the league, but even before that, we had been exploring the esports space, trying to figure out where we could fit into it,” Brendan Donohue said Monday.

Donohue, the managing director of the NBA 2K esports league, was in town to shed some light on the venture, since many of a certain age don’t have much of a clue of what it is all about, or why esports is so popular.

“It’s 5-on-5. Oftentimes, people are used to seeing video games being played 1-on-1,” Donohue said. “This actually is going to be five human beings playing five other human beings, controlling every player on the virtual court. So there will be no artificial intelligence whatsoever.

“The good thing is, several of our owners previously had and still own other teams and other titles … So we’ve had our owners that have been passionate about esports in general, so it just made logical sense for us to make the next step. The NBA has been running a league for two-quarters of a century, and then you have 2K, which is the most popular sports game amongst the major leagues. It just seemed logical for us to take a run at this.”

In this Sept. 3 file photo, fans watch a League of Legends esports competition at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. Christophe Simon / AFP / Getty Images

There is already a waiting list for Year 2, as other NBA teams look to join the party.

And why not? Last month, Palisade Research released an esports primer which read in part: “The Esports sector is forecasted to generate $1.13 billion (U.S.) in 2017, with 258 million viewers. By 2021, revenue is expected to grow to $2.70 billion, and to 438 million viewers. Some analysts peg revenues to reach as high as $3.31 billion, which would almost match the revenues of the established National Hockey League ($3.7 billion), and on the heels of the National Basketball Association ($4.8 billion).”

Donohue said he has heard those projections, but right now, the focus is on “just wanting to be the best possible.”

He is well aware of how the financial world feels about esports, though.

“For example, you look at something like Twitch, which has 10 million daily viewers,” Donohue said. “Goldman Sachs has looked at it and I’ve seen their reports — they predict it will be 20 million (daily viewers) by 2020. Everyone who is looking at this is predicting both viewership and revenues to continue to explode in the near future.”

Donohue knew Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment wouldn’t sit on the sidelines.

“I’ve known the folks at MLSE for a long period of time,” he said. “They are extremely innovative, they are very digitally savvy, they are a great organization and I know they are passionate about this space, so I assumed they were going to be in.”

Could the NHL follow in the NBA’s footsteps in getting into esports in a major way?

It could happen down the line considering the massive financial potential. Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is already heavily involved, and MLSE, Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks and Rangers) and Joshua Harris (Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils), three of the 17 initial NBA participants, also own NHL franchises.

In this March 1 file photo, Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (centre) drives to the hoop against the Washington Wizards. Chris Young / CP

MLSE declined to comment on Monday about a potential Maple Leafs esports franchise.

At a business summit back in March, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We envision something that would augment a fan’s affinity to his team … because, ultimately, I could envision a league-wide competition where each club runs a competition to see who will be represented in the equivalent of our championship, but for our esport game.”

At the time, Bettman said the NHL had been discussing the idea for over a year, “and if (NHL video game maker Electronic Arts) can continue to get some traction in developing a game that would work like that, we’ll be in that business.”

Which would be no surprise at all to Donohue.

“I would expect other leagues to follow our lead and to get involved in this. I would expect that to happen. I think it’s great for esports,” he said.

“Other (professional league) games being successful just continues to grow the broader universe.”

ONLY THE BEST

The players for the new NBA 2K esports league will come from all over.

“Our goal, to make this the best league possible, is to find the best 85 players on the planet. They can be anywhere in the world, they can be male, they can be female — we just want the best 85 players,” league managing director Brendan Donohue told Postmedia on Monday.

Players will be paid by their respective teams. Tryouts will start around Feb. 1, 2018, with a draft to follow in mid-March. The season will run from May 1 and go for 15 weeks, before concluding with two weeks of playoffs ending the third week of August.

When most people think esports, if they know anything about the phenomenon in the first place, they picture teenagers and people in their early 20s playing video games. Donohue said NBA 2K players don’t really fit that description.

“We actually don’t skew that young. So, 58 per cent of our player are actually over 25, so we skew a little older,” he said. “I think there are some myths about our players in general. They’re actually more likely to be educated, more likely to have a higher income. There are some myths out there about esports.”

For the first season, the 17 teams will play “in a central studio, or maybe two, somewhere in North America,” Donohue said.

Games won’t be played in sold-out arenas just yet, but that could happen down the line.

“We’re excited to be in Toronto (long-term),” Donohue said. “When they’ve had esports events (at the Air Canada Centre) before they’ve been very successful. We see this as a great market.”

Source: http://nationalpost.com/sports/basketball/nba/toronto-raptors-nba-take-logical-step-into-new-frontier-elite-esports-league