For the first time ever, businessmen and executives have been included in the Sports Business list of “Influential people in Sports” – a revelation that’s come as a surprise to those less-inclined to coin Esports in the same category as sports.
The Sports Business Journal’s “2017: 50 Most Influential People In Sports Business” list was released on Monday, and names 13 Esports-related entrepreneurs in total.
First to make the list was Jarred Kennedy, and Whalen Rozelle – a duo who, together, formed the company Riot Games.
(Riot Games is a pivotal name in the Esports industry, with its North American “League of Legends” Championship Series backed by big sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Houston Rockets. The deal sees franchises paying Riot a whopping $112 Million over the next 3 years – proof that the Esports industry isn’t a ‘fad’ as some precited.)
Three other notable names who made the list include Bobby Kotick – the CEO of Activision Blizzard – along with David Levy and Lenny Daniels, both of whom are executives at Turner.
While some questioned why Kotick – a man who, himself, had little interaction with Esports – it emerged that he actually succeeded in recruiting owners to invest in Blizzard’s forthcoming “Over watch League” – an even that some are coning the ‘most ambitious project in eSport history.’
Levy and Daniel’s inclusion on the list is perhaps a little more understandable; together, they oversaw Turner’s “ELeauge”, which saw some of the biggest Esports events run, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Street Fighter V, Injustice 2, along with Rocket League.
This could prove to be a pivotal turning point for the Esports industry; research shows that investors are beginning to come on-board – something that’s backed up with an estimated $1.5 Billion in Esports-related investment in 2017 alone.
This level of investment means that large, global investors are beginning to notice the emerging popularity of Esports – and the investment levels have massively outperformed financial analyst predictions, that stated it wouldn’t be until 2020 that the industry would be worth $1.5 Billion. Having achieved that nearly 3 years early, it’s clear things are moving fast, and it’s likely that it won’t be going away any time soon.
Some of the other names that made the list, include Dan Gilbert – the owner of the Cavaliers – Phil Anschutz – the founder and current CEO of AEG – along with Peter Guber and Joe Lacob, the co-owners of the Warriors.
With so much emphasis placed on Esports – with financial backing to solidify its emerging position – it’s clear that there’s a lot of hype around the new industry. Both players, and investors stand to gain – and with a relatively untapped market ahead of all involved, the direction which Esports can now be taken remains pretty much uncharted – the next few years will be an interesting wait, to see which direction the main players in the industry choose to take their businesses.