Esports One's Gaming Fantasy
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
As a math teacher, Julius Woehning can't ignore the numbers.
After climbing to 11th place out of 35,000 competitors in his fantasy sports league this Spring, the twenty-something German knew his chances of placing among the prize-winning top three were still slim. And even now that he's won the $50,000 grand prize, he's keeping his expectations modest for next season–mostly.
"I doubt I will win," Woehning told dot.LA, "but if my friends are playing next season, I definitely think I will beat them."
The league that hosted Woehning's triumph was operated by Esports One, a venture-backed L.A-based startup that is staking its claim on the dynamic esports market by providing fans like Woehning a tech-enabled fantasy sports platform. It currently accommodates just one game, League of Legends, a hit multiplayer battle arena-style competition developed by L.A.'s Riot Games, but the startup plans to expand to another title by the end of this year.
Founder Matt Gunnin told dot.LA that he has over a decade of experience in esports. His recent entrepreneurial ventures have been built around computer vision technology that analyzes on-screen game activity to produce a robust flow of real-time gameplay data and statistics. Gunnin previously partnered with Twitch, a popular platform for watching esports, to provide viewers with analytics as they watched; and he has partnered with Riot Games to help in-game esports announcers spice up their commentary with data.
Recent forecasts for the esports market have proven overly optimistic. As media analyst Matthew Ball wrote in an essay last month, Newzoo, a gaming insights service, predicted in 2017 that esports would generate up to $2 billion by 2020 but has since reduced its forecast to just north of $1 billion. Morgan Stanley had a similar overly bullish view. In April, Newzoo further cut its 2020 forecast, citing setbacks due to cancelled live events from the coronavirus. However, the service raised its expected growth rate, assuming an enduring boost from the increased gameplay occurring amid the pandemic.
Esports One co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Sharon Winter is optimistic about the space, noting increased interest from major agencies in representing gamers, the entry of new brands as advertisers and partners, and the expansion by some classic fantasy sports operators into esports.
The numbers looked good for this past season which Woehning won. According to representatives from Esports One, Europe's professional League of Legends league reported this spring's playoffs saw a 71% growth in total hours watched compared to last spring's, and a 76% increase in peak viewership.
A sport by any other name...
In some ways, fantasy esports is just like any fantasy sport. Esports One competitors have a weekly budget for bidding on players for each week's games; the real-world players are assigned a dollar-value based on Esports One's data-rich algorithms. As the gamers accumulate stats – kills, assists, achieving objectives, etc. – those are reflected in the fantasy gamers' lineups.
Woehning explained that playing fantasy esports makes watching matches more exciting, especially when his favorite team isn't playing – a sentiment many fantasy football players will recognize (anyone up for Lions-Browns?). Jason Halsey, another Esports One competitor, from England, says that just like in traditional sports, esports are filled with exciting moments, intriguing matchups and upsets.
Esports differs from traditional sports, however, in some crucial ways. As Ball described, a developer like Riot Games owns League of Legends, whereas nobody owns basketball or football. This skews power dynamics away from third-party esports companies and toward the game developers. But Gunnin and Winter emphasize they've built Esports One to work in partnership with game developers, yet without being captive to their centralized power.
Another way that esports differs from regular sports, Gunnin says, is that viewers can more easily see themselves doing what the professionals do. "But if you can't slam dunk, you're out of luck," he explained. As a result, Gunnin said Esports One strives to make its fantasy gameplay more like playing the game itself.
The startup's founders also highlight esports' somewhat "cliquey" nature, and how they accordingly aim to cater their platform toward upholding a sense of camaraderie. Halsey, the British gamer, praised the platform's responsiveness to user input.
Esports One has raised about $4 million to date. In the future the league will remain free to access, according to the company, but it plans to grow its revenue streams into premium subscriptions and event passes. Beyond expanding into another game title, the company also hopes to move beyond Europe and North America into other regions.
Los Angeles seems a good home base from which to do so. Two major studios, Activision Blizzard and Riot Games, are based here. And Kevin Rosenblatt of ESL Gaming, an international esports firm specializing in live events with an office in Burbank, told dot.LA that the region has become a "mecca" for esports, thanks to its history of production expertise, a rich ecosystem of firms and brands, and a talented labor pool.
As Esports One's summer season approaches, Woehning still hasn't decided what he will do with his spring winnings. The math teacher evidently understands compound interest and has plans to save it.
Sam Blake covers media and entertainment for dot.LA. Find him on Twitter @hisamblake and email him at samblake@dot.LA
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LA Tech Updates: TikTok pays Creators as Rivals Dig In, Amazon Reportedly Eyes Sears, J.C. Penny Stores
TikTok Doles Out Money to Creators, Batting Away Rivals<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODQ3Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzI2Nzc5OH0.nqOLhJhVWxeEzL1-Bs6w7LNxiiNnnx0-o7rlFhF1f1w/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7b3a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="624f145b0a9bfe26d79eb69af3533a7e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Tiktok announced today the first receipts of a $200 million creator fund including several Los Angeles-based app stars. It comes as the social app faces<a href="https://dot.la/instagram-reels-2646902459.html" target="_self"> increased competition</a> from those trying to<a href="https://dot.la/triller-2646853219.html" target="_self"> lure away talent </a>and the threat of an outright ban.</p><p>The company has promised to up their funds for rising U.S. creators to <a href="https://dot.la/does-tiktok-pay-2646841503/tiktok-promises-2-billion-for-creators-over-3-years-as-rivalry-with-facebook-heats-up" target="_self">$1 billion </a>over the coming three years. </p><p>Among the 19 selected so far is Los Angeles-based <a href="https://email@example.com?lang=en" target="_blank">Alex Stemplewski</a>, a photographer who shares the impromptu photo shoots he has with strangers in public with his 9.6M followers.</p><p>There's also <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@lgndfrvr?lang=en" target="_blank">Justice Alexander</a>, one of the top Latino creators on the app, who captures quick video of the many pranks he plays on his girlfriend and daughter with his 5.4M followers.</p><p>Well-known TikTok-er <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@daviddobrik?lang=en" target="_blank">David Dobrik </a>recently gave away a Tesla to one of his more than 20M followers <a href="https://www.tesmanian.com/blogs/tesmanian-blog/tesla-model-3-giveaway-david-dobrik-results-video" target="_blank">as part of a sweepstakes for the most heartfelt story</a>.</p><p>The Creator Fund will open their applications in the middle of the month for anyone 18 years or older looking to expand their work on Tiktok. To be considered, creators must have 10,000 followers or at least 10,000 video views in the last 30 days and follow community guidelines.</p>President Trump recently signed an executive order that will ban the Chinese-owned company by September 20th unless it's sold to an American company before that date. TikTok has responded by threatening legal action.
Amazon Wants to Use Sears and J.C. Penny Stores as Fulfillment Centers: WSJ<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkzMzU3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTUxNDQzOX0.2jvZQNPg69Ok14O5ag1zX33kbKt1aD8iK7bz4EJVw3k/img.jpg?width=980" id="bb2d6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4918cc13e6e261fe485e6ddcf2185d78" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />live.staticflickr.com <p>Amazon is in talks with mall operator giant Simon Property Group to convert Sears and J.C. Penney department stores into package distribution centers, according to a report from <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-and-giant-mall-operator-look-at-turning-sears-j-c-penney-stores-into-fulfillment-centers-11596992863" target="_blank">The Wall Street Journal</a>.</p><p>The discussions come as Amazon continues to grow its e-commerce empire which has helped contribute to the downfall of brick-and-mortar retailers including Sears and J.C. Penney, which both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. That trend accelerated with the pandemic as malls closed and millions of consumers rely on Amazon for online shopping.</p><p>Shares of Simon Property Group, which has 21 malls in California including the Del Amo Fashion Center, Brea Mall and Ontario Mills, jumped on the news. The company is set to report earnings after Monday's market close. </p><p>Adding more warehouses would help Amazon speed up deliveries as the company plans to offer its Prime members 1-day delivery of their orders. Amazon<a href="https://ir.aboutamazon.com/news-release/news-release-details/2020/Amazon.com-Announces-Second-Quarter-Results/default.aspx" target="_blank"> posted $5.2 billion in profits in the second quarter</a>, doubling its bottom line from the same quarter a year ago, despite spending more than $4 billion on COVID-19 initiatives.</p><p><a href="https://www.geekwire.com/2020/amazon-reportedly-wants-use-sears-j-c-penney-stores-fulfillment-centers/" target="_blank"><em>This story was originally appeared on GeekWire.</em></a></p>
Join us on Tuesday, August 11th at 11:00am PST for an exclusive dot.LA Strategy Session: Is the Green Rush Over?
California is the world's largest legal pot market, generating nearly $3.1 billion in spending in the Golden State alone. But cannabis-related businesses in the U.S. live in a legal-limbo, operating in this strange gray area between federal laws that make marijuana illegal and states that have decriminalized its use and sale entirely. This has led to sometimes difficult choices, workarounds and issues with which the cannabis and cannabis-linked companies are forced to contend.
Hilary Bricken, Partner of Harris Bricken
Hilary Bricken, Partner of Harris Bricken<p>Since joining Harris Bricken in 2010, Hilary has earned a reputation as an exceptional and fearless business law attorney. Hilary's clients—start-ups, entrepreneurs, and companies in all stages of development—value her bold approach to business strategy. Hilary also appears before city councils and community forums, where she advocates tirelessly for her clients.</p><p>In 2017, the American Bar Association (ABA) named Hilary one of the <a href="https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2017/07/aba_young_lawyersdi/" target="_blank">top 40 young lawyers</a> nationwide and before that <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2013/12/14/newsmakers-of-2013-deal-makers.html" target="_blank">The Puget Sound Business Journal</a> named her as one of only seven deal makers of the year. She was by far the youngest and the only private practice attorney to garner this honor. Hilary was also named one of "<a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/print-edition/2015/09/11/2015-40-under-40-hilary-bricken.html" target="_blank">40 Under 40</a>" leading businesspeople by the PS Business Journal. In every year since 2014, Hilary has been chosen as a "Rising Star" lawyer by Super Lawyer's magazine.</p><p>Major media outlets like the New York Times, VICE, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Business Insider, CNN, Rolling Stone, Forbes, MSNBC, and Bloomberg all have turned to Hilary for her on-the-ground perspective on cannabis laws. Hilary's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M4Fse1Ioaw" target="_blank">Tedx talk</a> on "big cannabis" (see below) has garnered more than 50,000 views and she also authors a weekly column for <a href="https://abovethelaw.com/tag/hilary-bricken/" target="_blank">Above the Law </a>on marijuana policy and regulation.</p>
Tanya Hoke, Managing Director of Galen Diligence
Tanya Hoke, Managing Director of Galen Diligence<p>Tanya has more than a dozen years of experience managing investigative due diligence for clients in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals and manufacturing to financial services and consulting. She has been advising investors in the cannabis industry since 2015, and focuses on issues relating to fraud, money-laundering, compliance, and corporate governance. Tanya is a Certified Fraud Examiner, a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, and a licensed private investigator. She has served on the National Cannabis Industry Association's Banking & Financial Services Committee and the State Regulations Committee. Tanya received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College and a Master of International Business degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she serves on the MIB Alumni Advisory Board.</p>
Brad Rowe, Director of Compliance, Operations and Regulations Analyst of Rowe Policy Media
Brad Rowe, Director of Compliance, Operations and Regulations Analyst of Rowe Policy Media<p>Brad has designed, implemented and delivered a dozen public policy research projects over the last six years through his time running BOTEC Analysis, at UCLA and with Avenu/MuniServices Cannabis Compliance and Support Services and Rowe Policy + Media. Brad is Lecturer of Public Policy at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and recently started teaching Cannabis Policy and Society, the first of its kind in the country. </p><p>He serves as Advisor to the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, coordinating the Criminal and JuvenileJustice Research team and the California Cannabis Data Collection Project. He sat on the CommunityAdvisory Committee for the Los Angeles County Department of Health's impact assessment on cannabis. </p><p>In 2020 Brad has taken on the cannabis "dosing problem". To help naive and legacy consumers dose new cannabis products predictably and reliably. The HowHi App Data Project provides evidence based insights into the Quality, Duration and Amplitude of the cannabis experience. The variables are crowd-sourced via experiential self-reports on iOS and Android interfaces. </p>
Andrew Freedman, Senior Vice President at Forbes Tate Partners
Andrew Freedman, Senior Vice President at Forbes Tate Partners<p>Andrew brings vast experience from his three years as the State of Colorado's first Director of Cannabis Coordination. During this time, he developed distinctive experience effectively implementing voter-mandated legalized adult-use and medical cannabis while protecting public health, maintaining public safety, and keeping cannabis out of the hands of children.<br><br>Andrew's role in developing a successful operating model for cannabis regulation and stakeholder collaboration was identified as one of the reasons for the State of Colorado's success in implementing adult-use cannabis legalization by the Brookings Institution. Governor Hickenlooper has gone so far as to praise Andrew's work while on national television, stating, "Andrew Freedman, who came in and helped us once it was passed . . . [has] done a remarkable job of creating a regulatory framework."<br><br>Andrew has received national recognition for his leadership. Men's Health Magazine named him one of the 30 most influential health influencers of the last 30 years. He was recognized as one of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" in 2016. He has been featured on 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine, and dozens of local stories throughout the nation and internationally.</p>
Tami Abdollah, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Tami Abdollah, Senior Reporter at dot.LA<p>Tami Abdollah is dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer.</p>
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