Esports is just getting bigger and bigger, with eager fans tuning in all over the world to watch their favorite personalities kick ass at video games. And just like with physical sports, this kind of success attracts cash. A lot of cash. One rising star in the esports business scene is Cloud9, an American company which just raised $50 million in funding.
Forbes reported that the round of fundraising was led by Valor Equity Partners, with manager partner Antonio Gracias joining Cloud9's board to cement the relationship. Cloud9, or C9, was founded in 2013 by husband and wife Jack and Paullie Etienne when Jack bought the former Quantic Gaming League of Legends roster.
Initially a tiny family business shipping merchandise from home, the success of Cloud9's League of Legends team led to further acquisitions of esports talent, and further victories of Cloud9 owned teams in Heroes of the Storm and Counter-Strike championships have also led to success in the financial arena.
Cloud9 now fields teams in Rocket League, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Super Smash Bros. Melee, H1Z1, Fortnite, Clash Royale, Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. To continue to fuel its expansion, the esports giant has big plans for that investor money.
Training centers for the esports stars of the future
Cloud9 will invest in infrastructure for its own future, with plans to build a new 30,000 square foot base of operations Los Angeles that will also serve as a training facility for its crop of gamer athletes. The different teams under the Cloud9 banner will all practice at the facility, on-site with Cloud9's operational staff of managers. Like any other big sporting hub, a sports psychologist, a physical therapist and chef will also be on staff. Etienne hopes to have everything up and running by the start of 2019's competition season.
The training center will be an attractive hub for young gamers seeking glory on the pro esports circuits and outreach opportunities are planned to raise awareness and attract budding esports stars. They won't be alone in competing for the top talent...Team Liquid are already building their own facility in Los Angeles, just five minutes away from Riot Games studios.
Will 2019 be the year esports really hits the mainstream?
Permanent headquarters for esports organizations will lay the groundwork for pro gaming to really hit the mainstream, expanding job opportunities and community connections around esports. With the most popular competitive games such as PUBG and Fortnite both being great successes on mobile this year, we can see a real push for the most successful competitive games to be as accessible as possible, on as many platforms as possible.
After all, even if your game is free-to-play, more downloads means more players, which means more potential fans who might follow the esports events, see the ads, buy the merchandise, and fuel the profit machine. Don't be surprised if, in just a couple of years, trendy pro gamers will be the face of endorsement campaigns for hardware, clothing lines, drinks, fragrances, you name it.
What do you think of esports? Do you follow a particular team or personality?