eSports Evolution To Pro Sports Has Begun: Part 1


eSports Evolution To Pro Sports Has Begun: Part 1

2016 League Of Legends At Madison Square Garden (Photo: Riot)

TNL Take: I felt as if the first 6 months of 2016 saw a rapid acceleration of eSports investment and Pro Team involvement.

Comparing the speed in the second half of 2016 to the first half of 2016 would be like comparing Usain Bolt to Betty White.  I won't list the dozens of deals that have happened but you can see them all right here at The Next Level.

One of the big themes that I've been thinking about is not only why are Pro Teams investing in eSports but how will that transition affect the space going forward.

Now we're starting to see the early framework of how eSports and the Sports industry will mutually coexist.


South Korean Team SK Telecom 1. Yes, not a NA Team. (Photo: Riot)

As reported by Jacob Wolf of ESPN - who is a fantastic writer - Riot Games plans to require teams playing in North American and European League Championship Series to contractually employ their players and coaches in 2017.

What does that mean exactly?

What defines a contract in the US actually varies by state - I'm not even going to touch Europe.

So depending on what state a team is based in they could receive the following:

  • Healthcare
  • 401(k) plans 

The biggest negative is that teams will have to withhold taxes upfront like any contractual deal.

Well if teams still owe players $25,000 today, that should be a fun conversation.

This also means 14 teams out of the 20 (6 in NA and 8 in EU) will have to make these changes if they are true.

Riot Games is also considering doubling the current NA payment from $12,500 in North America to $25,000.  

What's this mean for the NA teams that now have to take on this responsibility? There has to be some built in stability for them as well.

Let me provide some perspective on 2015 revenues and salaries:

Riot: $1.6 Billion

Bus Driver: $27,000

Hopefully we will get some concrete info on Riot's potential plans soon but that's being poured right now to start the infrastructure needed for eSports.