eSports is quickly becoming one of the world’s fastest growing industries, currently the third most watched sport on the planet behind Volleyball and Soccer (in that order). The global eSports market is booming and is predicted to be worth $1 Billion by the end of 2017.
With eSports tournaments regularly pulling in audience numbers that rival the Super bowl, you can see why companies, investors and now celebrities are wanting in on the action.
ESPN, Budweiser, TBS, Facebook, Dolby, YouTube, Twitch and many, many more companies are now investing in and broadcasting live eSports events across their networks. Acquisitions vary, but to give you an idea of the money involved here Swedish media company, The Modern Times Group, recently purchased the majority stake in Turtle Entertainment (ESL) for $87 million.
Celebrity eSports Investors
It seems that real world sports stars were the first to spot the potential of the eSports market. Spurred on by their industry knowledge and love of video games, these celebrities below are all involved in eSport team ownership in one way or another.
Former LA Lakers hall of famer Shaquille O'Neal co-owns an eSports organisation called NRG. NRG has teams that compete in several different genres, owning teams that compete in League of Legends and Counter Strike:Global Offensive.
The organisation recently acquired Overwatch pro squad, Team Mixup. Shaq apparently loves Overwatch and made the acquisition of a quality Overwatch team a top priority for NRG.
Professional Baseball star Alexander Emmanuel "Alex" Rodriguez, or ‘A-Rod’, also has money in NRG. Currently a free agent, A-Rod invests most of his time in eSports. Rod loves the scene so much that he joined Shaq as a co-owner of NRG.
James Calvin, or ‘J-Roll’, is another professional Baseball player that loves to game in his spare time. J-Roll also owns part of NRG with Shaq and A-Rod – this is turning out to be some sort of all stars sporting conglomerate.
Super star DJ Steven Hiroyuki, better known as Steve Aoki, is the first major DJ to sign an eSports deal. Aoki is a big time gamer but has a real soft spot for Overwatch. This love for all things gaming led the DJ to Las Vegas where he very recently acquired the Vegas based eSports company, Rogue.
Rogue currently has teams in Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. It was his love of Overwatch that lured the artist to the company.
Former LA Lakers superstar Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Jr. is the latest Basketball legend to buy into eSports. Magic, along with Tony Robbins (philanthropist and all round hunky life coach) co-own a company called, aXiomatic.
aXiomatic is looking to be the dominant force within the world of eSports. Their most recent procurement saw them snapping up team Liquid, most famous for being one of the world’s best all-round eSports teams.
Hollywood actor Christopher Ashton Kutcher is the first of perhaps many a future A-list actor to invest in eSports. Kutcher has recently bought into Unikrn. Unikrn is a platform that allows viewers to bet on games in real time – from League of Legends to Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Unikrn is locking down the eSports gambling market from the get-go.
Rick Fox is the first of the Canadian A-list actors (down the list a little in regards to NBA players) to get involved in eSports. Fox has been a fan of gaming for years and has been a super fan of eSports since their conception.
Now, Fox owns one of the fastest growing eSports companies out there, called Echo Fox. Echo Fox has a plethora of gaming team talent from League of Legends to Smash Bros. If I were a betting man, this would be where I would put my money.
So, if you are looking for a team to support then pick your favourite celebrity and jump on the bandwagon. eSports will soon be a regular feature on sporting television. My advice is to get in now and become an eSports OG just like Shaq!
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