Virtual sports and physical sports are becoming more and more entangled. The future of eSports just keeps getting better with the new arrival of investors from the NBA. Gaming fans, rejoice!
The Philadelphia 76ers, a bottom level NBA team, just bought a major stake in two eSports teams, Dignitas and Apex. That’s just the move they were needing to better their basketball team. Sarcasm aside, the 76ers now own two teams, but Dignitas and Apex will merge into one group.
The team will participate in matches of League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Heroes of the Storm. The key to eSports are the massive tournaments they host. Raucous crowds gather to cheer behind legions of players in front of a massive screen. The commentators do a brilliant job at exciting the atmosphere, as every second contains immense action and little downtime. Paving the way for more interest in eSports, the 76ers have already influenced another group to become interested. With the likes of Magic Johnson, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, and Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber, many figures in professional sports are getting involved.
It seems like the more professional teams and sports icons are interested in eSports, the more others will start to hop on the bandwagon. This is all in effort to take advantage of a growing industry. The UFC has seen recent celebrity involved to help sponsor their sport, and now eSports is benefitting from the celebrity and business involvement. There’s no surprise why, as the gaming industry is forecasted to bring in $493 million in revenue this year. Of course there’s always at least one skeptic, as the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is hesitant to invest more than he already has: $7 million in 2015. Well, Cuban might actually be right to wait to hop on the bandwagon because the gaming industry is a volatile market. There is as much chance to do well in investment as there is unnecessary risk. For now, he plans to sit back and wait until the fog begins to clear.
However, there’s the issue of turnover in eSports that may have shied away Cuban. The demographic of “athletes” in eSports is early 20’s. Other than that, there’s just too many hours that players need to devote to a single game before they burnout. Fatigue and grinding in video games is a real problem and it’s only compounded on the professional level. By the time championships are won, players often retire from the professional hierarchy because they simply don’t want to play the game anymore. It gets too boring.
Why is there so much interest from the NBA in particular? It might come as a surprise to some, but the NBA boasts 20 different billionaire owners. To compare, the NFL has 19 and the NHL has 10. There’s so much money amongst the owners of NBA teams that they don’t know what to do with it. Invest in the video game industry? Fuck it, let’s do it.