‘Awful Business’ Or The New Gold Rush? The Most Valuable Companies In Esports Are Surging.

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If you are looking for a way to quantify the rising influence of esports, look no further than FaZe Clan.

The video game lifestyle company has amassed 19 million social followers across YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, more than the Dallas Cowboys (7.2 million) and New York Yankees (6 million) combined. Last month, it hopped on the esports franchise trend, licensing its name to Atlanta Esports Ventures’s Call of Duty League team, the Atlanta FaZe, and it says it’s landed a string of 7-figure sponsorship deals from companies that include Nissan and Gfuel.

The Atlanta FaZe partnership was the first of its kind for the 9-year-old company, which sponsors more than 40 individual video game players competing in six different gaming titles. FaZe Clan has a value of $240 million, landing it at No. 4 on the second annual Forbes ranking of the most valuable esports organizations.

“I wouldn’t trade businesses with anyone else on this list,” said FaZe Clan’s co-owner and CEO, Lee Trink.

He has a reason to be cocky. Video game competitions reach a global audience of 454 million with at least 190 million more expected to be watching in three years, per industry analysts Newzoo. The average fan, according to Nielsen, is a millennial male, makes nearly $70,000 a year, and favors streaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Mixer over traditional television. Sponsorship, advertising and media rights have almost doubled since 2017 to $897 million.

All told, global revenue for esports will reach $1.1 billion this year, up 27% from 2018, with North America accounting for 40 percent of that pie. Forbes now counts 13 companies with a value of more than $100 million, with the average valuation hitting $217 million, up 52 percent over last year.

Still, billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, says owning an esports team in the U.S. is “an awful business.” He hates the frequent changes publishers make to game features, says values are declining and questions the value of the U.S. market compared with Asia. Cuban does own an esports team in the NBA 2K League, though he says there was no franchise fee and the costs are defined. He also has an investment in an esports betting business.

The believers are hearing none of his skepticism. Envy Gaming raised $20 million in January, according to Crunchbase, and now owns Overwatch League’s Dallas Fuel and the Dallas Empire, which will compete in the new Call of Duty League of 12 teams set to begin play in 2020. Gen.G raised $46 million in April, the largest round among the teams on the list, according to Pitchbook, with investors that include actor Will Smith and Los Angeles Clippers minority owner Dennis Wong.

Tournament gameplay footage and audience interaction with Envy Gaming’s Dallas Fuel.Envy Games

“We were actually over-subscribed and had to reassess the right partners for us,” said Gen.G CEO Chris Park. “But we thought it was important to have a strong war chest to invest in interesting opportunities.”

And for now, there is no shortage of them, including the long-term deal he struck with the NBA to launch an NBA 2K League team in Shanghai, the first team outside of North America and first not affiliated with an NBA team.

“We have something that more people in the U.S. – and younger fans, particularly – are watching and participating in than the traditional sports many of us have known our entire lives,” said Ken Hersh, Envy’s chairman and minority owner of MLB’s Texas Rangers.

While it may not be a lifetime just yet, the titles do have legs, with Call of Duty and Counter-Strike in their second decade and League of Legends celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The Forbes ranking includes organizations with a value of more than $100 million. Sources include company executives, industry analysts, and investors. Three teams that ranked last year dropped off, including Infinite Esports, which was bought by Immortals Gaming Club, and Echo Fox, which self-destructed amid headlines involving hate speech and an attempted restraining order.

#12 (tie) | OverActive Media | $120 million

Change from 2018: Not Ranked

Estimated Revenue: $5 million

Franchise League(s) -Team(s): LEC – Splyce, Overwatch – Toronto Defiant, Call of Duty – Toronto Ultra

Non-franchise Teams: Fortnite, Smite, StarCraft II


#12 (tie) | Misfits Gaming | $120 million

Change from 2018: Not Ranked

Estimated Revenue: $8 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LEC – Misfits Gaming, Overwatch – Florida Mayhem, Call of Duty – Florida Mutineers

Non-franchise Teams: Fortnite, Marvel vs. Capcom, Clash Royale


#11 | NRG Esports | $150 million

Change from 2018: Not Ranked

Estimated Revenue: $20 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): Overwatch League – San Francisco Shock, Call of Duty – Chicago Huntsmen

Non-franchise Teams: Fortnite, Rocket League, Clash Royale, Smash, Apex, Gears of War, Dragon Ball Fighterz


#10 | 100 Thieves | $160 million

Change from 2018: $70 million

Estimated Revenue: $10 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) – 100 Thieves

Non-franchise Teams: Counter Strike, Fortnite


#9 | G2 Esports | $165 million

Change from 2018: $60 million

Estimated Revenue: $22 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): League of Legends European Championship (LEC) – G2

Non-franchise Teams: CS:GO, R6, RL, PUBG, Apex, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Sim Racing


#8 | Envy Gaming | $170 million

Change from 2018: $75 million

Estimated Revenue: $8 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): Overwatch – Dallas Fuel, Call of Duty – Dallas Empire

Non-franchise Teams: Overwatch Contenders, CS:GO, Fortnite, PUBG, Paladins, Super Smash Bros


#7 | Fnatic | $175 million

Change from 2018: $55 million

Estimated Revenue: $16 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LEC – Fnatic

Non-franchise Teams: CS:Go, Dota 2, Fortnite, Rainbow Six, Apex, Clash Royale, Rules of Survival, Street Fighter V


#6 | Gen.G | $185 million

Change from 2018: $75 million

Estimated Revenue: $9 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LCK – Gen.G, Overwatch – Seoul Dynasty, NBA 2KL -Shanghai

Non-franchise Teams: Overwatch Contenders, Fortnite (Team Bumble), PUBG, Apex Legends, Clash Royale


#5 | Immortals Gaming Club | $210 million

Change from 2018: $110 million

Estimated Revenue: $11 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LCS – Immortals, Overwatch League – Los Angeles Valiant, Call of Duty – OpTic Gaming Los Angeles

Non-franchise Teams: Clash Royale (Immortals), CS:GO (MIBR), Rainbow Six (MIBR)


#4 | FaZe Clan | $240 million

Change from 2018: Not Ranked

Estimated Revenue: $35 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): None

Non-franchise Teams: CS:GO, PUBG, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Rainbow 6 Siege, FIFA


#3 | Team Liquid | $320 million

Change from 2018: $120 million

Estimated Revenue: $24 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LCS – Team Liquid

Non-franchise Teams: CS:GO, Dota 2, StarCraft2, Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, Clash Royale, PUBG, Apex, Hearthstone, Smash Melee, Smash Ultimate, Street Fighter V, Tekken, Quake, Team Fight Tactics 


#1 (tie) | Team SoloMid | $400 million

Change from 2018: $150 million

Estimated Revenue: $35 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LCS – Team Solomid

Non-franchise Teams: League of Legends Academy, PUBG, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Smash, Overwatch, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Magic: The Gathering, Rainbow Six Siege, Teamfight Tactics


#1 (tie) | Cloud9 | $400 million

Change from 2018: $90 million

Estimated Revenue: $29 million

Franchise League(s) – Team(s): LCS – Cloud9, Overwatch – London Spitfire

Non-franchise Teams: CS:Go, Fortnite, Hearthstone, PUBG, Rainbow 6, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, Teamfight Tactics, WoW



Source

Business News

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