The Russian eSports industry is about to punch a hole in the global scheme of things after a Russian oligarch plunges $100 million into a top Russian eSports clan.
The gaming world has come a long way since 1984.
In those heady days, a talented Russian named Alexey Pajitnov created a simple looking game called Tetris. Many years later and those falling blocks had enthralled the lives of millions of people. Psychologists have even proven that playing the game can help reduce flashbacks for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers.
Pajitnov must have made millions.
Employed by the Soviet government he didn’t receive a penny in royalties until he moved to America and created The Tetris Company in 1996.
Fast forward 31 years and things are quite different. Tetris retains its appeal, but technological advances have resulted in the creation of games that we could never imagine would have existed back when a Soviet Nuclear reactor exploded in a city called Chernobyl.
Millions of children and adults alike glued to their consoles. Parents, husbands and wives complaining that those closest to them should get out more, play more and compete. It’s not the way anymore, and it should come as no surprise that gaming will become the next sport that takes over the world Ernst Stavro Blofeld-style.
There is a new Russian on the block. He did get paid for the work he did when he was younger – quite a lot actually. Alisher Usmanov, 62, is the third richest man in Russia, and the 71st richest man in the world. Like most Russian oligarchs, he is a self-made billionaire with the steel and mining business at the core of his success.
Usmanov has an estimated fortune of $13.5 billion and has decided to have a little fun with it. While his fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich plays with his own Premier League football team in Chelsea, Usmanov is ploughing $100m into the burgeoning business of eSports.
The benefactors are Virtus.pro, a Russian eSports clan that specialises in Counter-Strike and Dota 2. This injection of cash makes them the world leader in eSports. Speaking to the website Russia Beyond the Headlines, Virtus.pro marketing director, Alexei Nazarov, said they could expect the money to pour in over the next couple of years. ‘Projects with potentially high investment returns’ are the key targets.
The same website suggested the money would be used to fund new arenas for live play, and to create new tournament structures.
Usmanov is not the only wealthy Russian looking to eSports as a business opportunity. In August of this year, his business partner, Yury Milner, invested $26m in Super Evil Megacorp, the backbone behind the Dota 2 style game Vainglory.