SPORTS

Betway sponsor UK eSports tournament; venture capital diving into eSports world

TAGs: betway, crown resorts, ESL, eSports

betway-esl-esportsUK-licensed online gambling operator Betway has signed on as sponsor of the UK’s largest eSports tournament.

On Wednesday, Betway announced that it has teamed with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to promote the ESL UK Premiership, the finals of which get underway on October 24 at London’s MCM Comic Con. Betway, which recently launched its dedicated eSports betting portal, will begin offering odds on the Counter-Strike; Global Offensive tourney this Friday (9).

ESL UK community manager Peter Mather said betting was “already a huge part” of the CS:GO community and the partnership with Betway provides “a tried and trusted alternative for our fans and spectators.” Betway PR man Alan Alger said the deal “cements our commitment to the eSports community” and the site will be offering a wide variety of pre-game, in-play and handicap bets on the tournament.

The ESL is no stranger to the offline gaming world, as this Friday will also see the kickoff of the ESL’s $55,555 Counter-Strike Invitational at Crown Resorts’ casino in Melbourne. The winners of Friday’s qualifying heat will face off against pro teams Virtus.Pro and Cloud 9 in the finals on Saturday. Tickets for the main event have already sold out.

There’s no question that eSports is the new hot girl at the bar. On Wednesday, a consortium of Los Angeles-based finance, technology and media execs announced they’d purchased Team 8, a California-based pro eSports franchise, from former pro gamer Eric Ma. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the Los Angeles Times suggested the figure would be in the “single-digit millions.”

The team has since been rebranded as the Immortals and will play under that name in the North American League of Legends Championship Series. The Immortals will also field teams in other eSports, including CS:GO and DOTA 2. The Immortals have also signed chipmaker AMD as their new primary sponsor.

The Immortals’ new ownership group includes Lionsgate film studio exec Peter Levin, Oaktree Capital chairman Steve Kaplan (who also owns the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team), gaming and media streaming outfit Machinima Inc’s chairman Allen DeBevoise, the venture capital arm of rock band Linkin Park, plus several other individuals.

The investment community is rapidly taking notice of the eSports world, which has attracted $175m in venture funding over the past 18 months. R.W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian estimates that the eSports industry will be worth an annual $1.8b by 2020, up from just $200m in 2014. A recent report by Eilers Research projected eSports betting handle could rise to $1.8b over the same timeframe.

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