Anders Ekman grew up enjoying Counter-Strike: World Offensive, a two-decade-old multiplayer first-person shoot ’em up sport. And he acquired fairly good at it too, ultimately changing into a part of the Swedish nationwide crew.
Now he’s turning this know-how right into a enterprise, constructing a startup known as Leetify, which sells statistical evaluation to gamers hoping to enhance their sport. It has 50k folks subscribing — from professionals filling stadiums to amateurs at dwelling.
Ekman is a part of a pattern of online game fanatics are turning their know-how into tech firms, capitalising on the large enterprise alternative in esports as the worth of the entire trade has ballooned in recognition (and worth) lately.
Subsequent month will see the League of Legends World Championship in Iceland, which guarantees to be one of many largest esports occasions of the yr with a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of viewers — only a signal of how the sector has grown.
“The momentum within the final decade is insane.”
“The momentum within the final decade is insane,” stated the 29-year-old Ekman. “You’re seeing viewership numbers, participant numbers and salaries growing a lot annually. It’s arduous to maintain monitor of.”
For buyers, esports knowledge crunching is a very fast-growing area of interest, notably in Nordic international locations the place the vast majority of high European avid gamers hail from. Copenhagen’s GameScorekeeper, for instance, collects match knowledge to supply betting odds for esports tournaments; Abios in Stockholm and PandaScore in Paris present comparable companies.
Probably the most profitable execs and streamers can earn six — or in some instances even seven-figure incomes.
Leetify raised €900k from a number of Nordic VCs in a seed spherical final yr and is trying to elevate additional funds within the coming months.
Ekman says he may help professional esports groups scout the following mercurial expertise, drawing on in-depth knowledge of greater than 12m CS:GO gamers. “I feel that might assist take away a number of the randomness from going professional in esports as we speak,” he says.
Those that make it that far have been handsomely rewarded: essentially the most profitable execs and streamers can earn six — or in some instances even seven-figure incomes.
Esports’ Mr Moneyball
Tips on how to make the leap from run-of-the-mill gamer to professional? Information ought to assist.
For €6 a month, signups to Leetify (the identify is a play on gamer slang for ‘elite’) get entry to a training platform that routinely analyses the matches that avid gamers play, figuring out weaknesses, personalising practices, and monitoring progress.
Leetify is developing towards an rising pack of esports knowledge specialists in Europe — a few of that are starting to attract in sizeable investments.
“You will have all these coaching buildings for conventional sports activities — in esports, it’s fully unknown what is required to go professional,” stated Ekman. “I found there’s a tonne of knowledge right here and that we may use it to inform gamers what’s holding them again.”
Leetify is developing towards an rising pack of esports knowledge specialists in Europe — a few of that are starting to attract in sizeable investments. Stockholm-based G-Loot for instance presents avid gamers stats and runs on-line tournaments. The corporate closed a $56m spherical final yr. In Berlin, Shadow presents avid gamers knowledge suggestions that it says ‘minimize by means of the noise’, whereas one other VC-backed startup, GamerzClass in Copenhagen, presents on-line masterclasses from professional avid gamers.
Can Leetify higher the competitors on this model new discipline? “Usually we distinguish ourselves by specializing in giving the consumer insights and never simply knowledge. This implies we attempt to analyse the information as a lot as doable, and inform customers what to do with it as an alternative of simply presenting them with uncooked knowledge which is likely to be arduous to interpret for an adolescent or younger grownup,” Ekman says.
“Positively Europe is a powerhouse — notably Scandinavia.”
Ekman shouldn’t be missing gaming chops both. He has been enjoying Counter-Strike for over 20 years, taking him manner over the supposed 10k hours bar for specialists.
“I’m very aggressive,” he says. “I performed each sport identified to man however as an adolescent, my dream was to go professional in Counter-Strike.”
The furthest he acquired was to educate the Swedish Counter-Strike nationwide crew when he was 19. “It’s extraordinarily satisfying while you assist a gaggle pull off one thing particular. However [the team] was massive on egos. One wished to take 80% of our winnings which felt unreasonable,” he says.
Ekman estimates that there are 300-500 fulltime Counter-Strike execs on the planet. “Positively Europe is a powerhouse — notably Scandinavia,” he stated.
The sport, says Ekman, “Could be very lovely and just like chess — it’s so easy however you’ve gotten infinite selection; so many mixtures of how a sport can play out. Straightforward to be taught however troublesome to grasp.”
Professional sport careers will be over by the point a participant turns 34 or 35.
Over the hill by 24
Esports avid gamers are considered professional athletes, competing on groups in video games like League of Legends, Name of Obligation and Dota 2, the way in which groups compete in soccer or rugby.
Identical to conventional sports activities, skilled leagues dedicated to video games like League of Legends, Overwatch and Name of Obligation characteristic groups vying for championship trophies and millionaire gamers trying to find glory. The subsequent massive Counter-Strike event, which boasts a prize pool of $2m, is in Stockholm in October.
“I’ve realised my time has handed. It’s a younger man’s sport”
Within the sports activities world, followers comply with groups. In esports, “you comply with the gamers,” says Ekman. “They’re those with the fanbases. You don’t care as a lot in regards to the crew they’re with.” The Counter-Strike rockstar of the second is 23-year previous Ukrainian, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev.
Professional sport careers will be over by the point a participant turns 34 or 35. In esports, athletes are seemingly previous their peak by age 23 or 24. “In case you haven’t made it by that point, it’s very arduous. I’ve realised my time has handed. It’s a younger man’s sport,” says Ekman.
“Quite a lot of the professionals are 16-20. It’s fairly uncommon to see ones over 30 as a result of it’s such an unbelievable time dedication.” In international locations like China and South Korea, avid gamers begin competing as youngsters, and professionals prepare as much as 18 hours a day (although Beijing lawmakers stipulated final month that avid gamers underneath 18 may solely play three hours every week sooner or later).
There’s a scarcity of dependable knowledge on esports salaries.
Rise of streamers
Streamers, however, will be of their teenagers or of their early 40s. To change into a wealthy gaming streamer — now doable due to the attain of platforms like Twitch — it helps if you’re good, however you don’t must be elite. “A enjoyable character helps,” stated Ekman.
Usually, there’s a scarcity of dependable knowledge on esports salaries. “You hear numbers thrown round. It appears they’re getting very excessive. However it’s all very confidential. It’s slightly little bit of an issue to not know the going fee — your negotiating energy is low that manner.”
With extra funding, Ekman hopes to department out and distill the quantitative essence of different video games. “Counter-Strike is the one I’ll maintain coming again to although, I do know it. It’s my jam.”
Working an esports firm solely has one draw back for the 29-year-old. “I’ve not discovered time to play the sport for over a month.”
Éanna Kelly is a contributing editor at Sifted