Ever daydreamed about having your own fantasy professional video gamer team? Well your dream has come true.
DraftKings – a fantasy sports service where users can compete for cash in leagues such as the NBA and NFL – has launched a similar offering for e-sports or professional gaming.
Users will have a virtual $50,000 salary to spend on drafting in an eight-person team in different positions – just as they would in other sports. DraftKings has teamed up with six professional gaming teams such as Cloud9 and Mousesports and players will be able to pick gamers from these teams.
E-sports is a rapidly growing area of gaming. It involves a team of gamers competing against each other in titles such as "League of Legends." These competitions are often held in massive arenas and last month, Madison Square Garden was sold out for a League of Legends world championship qualifying match.
Revenues from e-sports are expected to hit $278 million this year, up 43.1 percent from 2014, according to gaming research firm Newzoo. In addition, the number of e-sports "enthusiasts" – those that engage with it more than once a month, is set to grow to 165.1 million by 2018, Newzoo said.
It is getting so big, that the world's largest technology companies all want a piece of the pie. Last year, Amazon bought Twitch – a company that streams videos of people playing games – for $970 million. And in August, Google launched its own video game streaming site called YouTube Gaming.
Players can start drafting their teams from Thursday but the first tournament kicks on Thursday 1 October to coincide with the start of the League of Legends World Championship. Users can enter a tournament for free or pay in order to play for cash prizes. For example, DraftKings is letting people enter one contest for $3 with a top prize if $2,000 if they win.
Fantasy sports has become a huge area with companies such as DraftKings and rival Fan Duel both getting big funding. In July, DraftKings raised a $300 million round of funding led by 21st Century Fox's Fox Sports unit, while Fan Duel received $275 million for investors earlier in that same month.