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TECHNOLOGY

How That Esports Athlete Next Door Just Landed an Agent

As projections for the esports industry continue to expand, a premium will be placed on good management.

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BY Darren Heitner - 19 Jan 2018

How That Esports Athlete Next Door Just Landed an Agent

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Breaking news: esports fans are real, and so are the players' earnings. According to e-sportsearnings.com, a site that tracks the esports industry, close to $400 million in prize money has been awarded overall. That's up from $64 million just two years ago.

An estimated 2.3 billion players worldwide - many of them incredibly passionate about esports and looking for a way to create a career or at least an income out of their passion - are creating an entirely new economy in esports. At the intersection of passionate gaming and cutting edge fintech, we see entrepreneurial companies stepping into the gap to create the economy to make this happen.

Advances in esports are being made by a generation that believes passion fuels the best careers. And thanks to a cadre of passionate and tech savvy young fintech leaders, the gamer next door is about to launch himself into the big time.

Making the leap from amateur to pro.

There's little doubt that esports continue to gain massive momentum. The industry saw recent growth up 34% year over year, according to NewZoo research.

That's great news for the elite esports athletes in the top echelon, but what about the rest of audience? Can the industry support the career aspirations of the rest of those 2.3 billion players?

DreamTeam's founder Alexander Kokhanovsky breaks the competitive gaming market in three segments: professional players, with high salaries and fan bases; amateur players, who are actively playing in ranked matches and amateur tourneys; and casual players, generally playing for fun with friends or online. And he sees a huge gap in services for the middle "amateur" level of player, making it difficult to growth their gaming into real careers.

So he and his team are building DreamTeam, the first esports platform dedicated to serving this amateur segment. Kokhanovsky believes that this underserved audience is looking for better ways to connect with teams, tournaments and sponsors, and their block-chain based solution will offer this path to professionalism.

How passion is igniting the industry.

Competitive gamer enthusiasts tend to be in their late teens to 30s. Many of them are already a part of the gig economy. They were born digitally native, and are all about diving into their passions and making careers out of them, for both themselves and fellow gamers.

For example, Kevin Hoang of Esprouts was a professional esports celebrity who saw a need for better social media management for gamers, and built the platform on which to make it happen. Hoang realized there was a growing contingent of competitive gamers who were faced with a lack of solid tools to grow their own media presence. As he sees it, the industry's growth rate isn't slowing anytime soon. Esports, as he notes in this interview, is a ripe market overflowing with opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to help gamers grow the careers, their social media presence and their potential.

Kokhanovsky and his team see similar opportunities in this market, where about 80% of the money being awarded through esports is via team-based games. Yet the existing tools out there to find, join and manage teams are disconnected and incomplete. Their DreamTeam platform gives amateur gamers a way to run their gaming business on one consolidated platform, on a technology they already know and trust.

"You have to understand that for gamers, blockchain is already a proven entity," Kokhanovsky explains. "Decentralized tournaments and prize payments are already on running on blockchain, so the natural next step is a decentralized platform that will help amateurs grow their careers."

This decentralized marketplace will provide a place to find teams, recruit players, manage the team, even offer coaching and sponsorship management. The apex of this ecosystem is its network of management tools, he notes. It will bring all of the essentials - recruiting, management, performance analytics, coaching - together in one place. It will also bring together more complicated business tools like marketing, media tracking, generating contracts and reports, even the possibility for attracting agents and endorsements.

The tech that's fueling the passion.

Esports is a truly global phenomenon; top gaming events are packing stadiums and being broadcast across TV and online feeds. Some are even predicting that esports viewership will soon outpace the NBA. Any platform that caters to the booming gaming community must take this into account. And increasingly it looks like blockchain technology could be the game-changer in the industry in addressing the industry's challenges and opportunities.

As the esports industry continues its rapid evolution - thanks in large part to blockchain technology and the passionate entrepreneurs that are finding new ways to leverage it - players are finding more and more support as they pursue their gaming careers. Even that gamer next door now has a shot at the big time.

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