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Fnatic secures $17m led by Marubeni to drive further global growth

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Fnatic's equal opportunity Fnatic Network is fostering new streaming talent, more than doubling their viewership in the past year
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High-performance brand will harness $1bn esports market in 2021

Fnatic, the high-performance esports brand, has announced a $17m funding round led by one of the largest conglomerates in Japan, Marubeni Corporation (“Marubeni”). This investment will incorporate a strategic partnership to support Fnatic’s expansion into the growing Japanese esports sector, and the substantial Asia-Pacific market. 

Marubeni’s investment in Fnatic builds upon twelve months of growth, including an 80% year-on-year increase in revenues year-to-date and expansion as a high-performance esports brand. Fnatic will now strengthen its position in the rapidly growing esports market, which Newzoo anticipates will generate $1.08bn in revenues in 2021. 

The previous twelve months have also accelerated the growth of the global esports industry, particularly in cornerstone markets such as China and East Asia. Newzoo projects that the worldwide esports audience will grow to 474 million people in 2021, with 92.8 million enthusiasts in China alone. This global audience is expected to reach more than 577 million by 2024. 

To tap into this global and growing market, Fnatic has recently strengthened its leadership team with the addition of Georgina Workman (Head of Studios, Previously Appear Here), Julien Dupont (Partnership development, previously Vitality/Havas), Oliver Royce (Head of Apparel, Previously Gymshark) and Patrick Foster (CFO, previously Getaround). It has also continued to develop its high-performance esports brand through expanding its digital and physical performance products – revenues from these ranges have increased by 91 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2021. 

The investment from Marubeni will also accelerate Fnatic’s growth in the substantial Asia-Pacific market with a new strategic partnership that will incorporate the expansion of Fnatic’s base of operations in Japan and support for Fnatic’s Rainbow 6 Siege team who plan to relocate to the country. The Japanese esports industry is a significant and growing market, expected to increase in value by more than 250 per cent between 2019 and 2023. More than 6.9 million people attended esports events in Japan in 2020, a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.

The current round includes a range of international family offices and institutional investors, alongside venture debt from Bootstrap. The round comes after Fnatic’s groundbreaking crowdraise in 2020, which was joined by more than 3,500 investors. 

Fnatic CEO Sam Mathews said: “We’re so excited to have the strategic know-how of Marubeni leading this funding round.  Marubeni’s knowledge of Japan’s business landscape will be a huge asset to Fnatic as we expand our commitment to APAC.”

Founded in 2004, Fnatic is the world’s leading high-performance esports brand, with more tier-1 tournament wins than any other organisation. This focus on performance has enabled the growth of Fnatic’s pioneering esports equipment line, which grew 52 per cent in 2020. Fnatic has also expanded its high-performance teams globally, with a worldwide squad of 40 pro gamers across 8 game titles, and more than 100 staff in 6 offices globally.

 

eSports

BLAST announce WePlay Esports as new Russian language broadcast partner

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BLAST Premier has announced a two-year deal with WePlay Esports to broadcast its global Counter-Strike tournament series exclusively in the CIS region.  

Under the nature of the deal, media holding company and esports tournament organiser WePlay Esports will own exclusive Russian language media rights to broadcast this year’s BLAST Premier Fall Groups (September 16-26), Showdown (October 12-17), Final (November 24-28) and World Final (December 14-19) and the entire 2022 season. 

BLAST Premier is a global Counter-Strike tournament series that unites all major events, offers opportunities to all regions across the globe and crowns the world champions of CS:GO. Up to 32 teams will take part in the seven BLAST Premier events over the course of 2021 with a combined prize pool of $2,475,000 on the line. 

The CIS region represents one of BLAST and CS:GO’s most popular countries for viewership, with it regularly featuring in the most watched regions for each event. A recent study by Esports Charts, reported that Russian-language esports broadcasts in 2020 amounted to a total of 200M hours watched, growth of 10% compared to 2019, with Counter-Strike remaining the second most watched esport in the region. 

Alexander Lewin, VP of Distribution and Programming for BLAST, said: “We’re delighted to welcome WePlay Esports as our latest broadcast partner – with their extensive expertise in Counter-Strike production, WePlay Esports will help to bring the very best of BLAST Premier to Russia for the remainder of the 2021 season and beyond. BLAST has always enjoyed great support and viewership in the CIS region and we look forward to maintaining our industry leading esports production and entertainment for the community to enjoy.”

Maksym Bilonogov, Chief Visionary Officer and General Producer at WePlay Esports, said: “We at WePlay Esports recognize BLAST Premier as one of the best CS:GO circuits out there, which uses technology and creativity to deliver world-class entertainment. Our team will go all out to bring the same level of show to the CIS audience and make sure that the love for the game in the region only grows stronger with time.”

BLAST’s portfolio of media rights currently stands at over 35 partners, meaning BLAST Premier is shown in 18 different languages and over 150 TV territories.

WePlay Esports has experience not only in broadcasting but also in hosting CS:GO tournaments. The company organized WePlay! Lock and Load, two seasons of the Forge of Masters league, WePlay! Clutch Island, and the first season of the WePlay Academy League. 

 

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eSports

Girl Squad Setting Foot in Gaming Content Creation

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There is no doubt that the global esports industry is thriving, especially when people are confined at home due to the current covid-19 situation. We have seen people going gaga over the popular multiplayer games like PUBG (now BGMI in India), Free Fire, Counter Strike, Valorant, Fortnite, etc. and they are sincerely dedicating a considerable amount of time on screen. We all might agree that it is commonly considered as a male-dominated space and we hardly encounter a female gamer who is creating content and engaging with audience. But that can soon be considered a thing from the past. Trinity Gaming, India’s top gaming talent management company has been associating with women gamers & content creators since its inception in 2019. While initially, we just had a handful of women enthusiasts, now we see huge curiosity about professional e-gaming from women across ages, geographic locations, and socio-economic conditions. Women are increasingly becoming attracted to virtual sports, driven either by their passion or viable career option.

Recently, a remarkable number of women professional gamers have come on rise. These young gamers have set their foot strong enough to compete with their male counterparts but in a healthy and entertaining way, which promises to take the space of esports to new heights. These professional gamers collaborating, bringing new content and are engaging with a wider audience.

 

Sanjana Bhattacharya aka iamBLACKHORSE                              

My name is Sanjana Bhattacharya and I go by the gaming name BLACKHORSE. I have been a content creator and a streamer on YouTube for almost 4 years now and it has to be the most magical journey I have ever been on with so much to learn and so many experiences to gain. I currently have a family of 185k+ subscribers on my YouTube channel iamBLACKHORSE and I love to call them my team black fam. My subscribers are my biggest supporters and they encourage me every day to get up and work 2 times harder than the previous day.

 

Pooja Bisht

My name is Pooja Bisht. I have been streaming for 2 years. I play pc games like GTA 5 RP, Valorant, Apex and many more. I play games for fun. I have collaborated with multiple brands like AORUS, Gigabyte, Booyah, AMD. I currently have a family of 46.8k+ subscribers on my YouTube channel. I really want to try BGMI and definitely want to explore more pc games for more exposure in the gaming ecosystem. I want other gamers to define a player with the skills and strategy they put in the game and not gender.

 

Sakshi Sood

Sakshi is a 21-year-old gaming content creator, she does unboxing videos of any new graphics card in collaboration with MSI. She is also supported by Redbull. She also worked with Zotac as well and made some vlogs too. She recently released the first episode from a series she is making on “My journey as a gamer to a streamer”. Her future plan is to try out new games, expand her selection of games by trying out unpopular games. She also wanted to raise awareness among female gamers and encourage them to try out new games to play and stream. She currently has a family of 1,53,797 subscribers on her Facebook Gaming channel.

 

Kangkana Talukdar aka Mystic Ignite  

Kangkana aka Mystic Ignite is a 22-year-old gaming content creator who wants to become one of the best female esports players in India and you all will find her playing games with her followers. She being very talkative, so one of her friends suggests her to stream and interact with the public as she loves being funny most of the time and the suggestion turned out to be the catalyst in the growth of her career. She currently has a family of 65,000 followers on her Facebook Gaming channel.

 

Aparna Shukla aka Annie

Aparna is a 26-year-old gaming content creator; she wants to explore every new game with her audience. She does content creation around everything like unboxing, collaboration with other gamers, branding etc. In a short period of time, she attracted a good amount of audience with her skills. She aims to explore each and every game in her league. She loves interacting with the audience and plays with her followers. She currently has a family of 21 lakh plus followers on her Facebook Gaming channel “Rogstream”.

 

Anjali Roy aka Unicorn IB

Anjali is a 21-year-old gaming content creator, she loves exploring more games and interact with her audience. She has proved to be a great example of female gamers. Despite facing online bullying on the gaming front, she continues to grow with the support of her family and friends. She currently has a family of 1.3 lakh followers on her Facebook Gaming channel.

 

Trinity gaming is among the pioneers who are proudly serving some of India’s largest channels and brands, while working closely with over 250 of their gaming professionals. It is committed to encourage gamers and build an industry which offers the safe haven to these young talents who have the potential to turn passion into a full-time career and where no genders are barred.

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eSports

One.Fun goes Esports Bar in Cannes this fall

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iGaming Key-players will gather to discuss the current market situation in the e-Sport industry at the Esports Bar summit in Canes this fall.

The betting industry turned to esports in order to curb the effects of the pandemic on their business in 2020 due the cancellation of traditional sports events around the globe.. For esports, these unusual circumstances created an opportunity to reach new audiences, including those it might not have otherwise reached at all. Market Insight Reports predicts that the size of the global esports betting market is expected to reach US$13.05bn by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.1% over the forecast period of 2020 to 2025.

With this perspective in mind, most betting companies started to look for the best ways to open up to esports. As a result, B2B collaborations began to boom. In the process of replacing traditional sports, and increasing the betting volume, sportsbooks added more competitive esports events to their portfolio, which secured data providers with wider coverage.

Mickael Shahinyan, One.Fun co-founder will join the Esport Bar as moderator of one of the sessions where the following questions would be discussed:

– What are the current trends in esports betting?

– What are the synergies when cross-selling sports and esports games?

– What are the threats faced by betting companies in esports?
– How do you handle betting and the young esports audience?

Mickael Shahinyan says: “Discussing the current market situation with industry key-players we may find answers the Esports industry really needs. As a One.Fun co-founder I do have access to users’ and clients’ feedback we have collected after hitting the beta of our project. This feedback is what industry needs and I will share it along one of the sessions at Esports Bar Summit where I will act as a moderator. Real industry feedback combined with real operating experience. I do appreciate the opportunity to join the Esports Bar and do believe we will hit the market during the show. ”

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