The Canadian esports industry has enjoyed a remarkable growth curve in recent years and it should continue to flourish during this new age of contagion. Many esports firms have opted to go public in Canada as its stock exchanges impose fewer regulations than their prominent US counterparts. That has seen Canadian capital markets play a central role in driving the global esports boom.
Competitive gaming is also growing increasingly popular in Canada. Last year, analytics firm NewZoo revealed that 1.5 million Canadians watch esports on a monthly basis. That figure has spiked in 2020 after traditional sporting events were postponed as a result of the Covid-19.
Fans cannot pack out stadiums to watch their favourite CS:GO, Dota 2 and LoL stars in action right now. However, the events have gone digital instead, allowing viewers to enjoy gripping action 24/7 during the lockdown.
Players Become Millionaires
A decade ago, competitive gaming was a niche, underground pursuit in Canada. The first star gamer to put the country on the map was Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling, who led Evil Geniuses to victory in The International 2015. By that point, The International had firmly established itself as the world’s richest esports tournament, and prize money that year stood at a cool $18.4 million (US dollars).
Aui_2000 and his four teammates took home a first prize of more than $6.6 million, making him an overnight millionaire and inspiring legions of young Canadians to follow in his footsteps. Aui_2000 has never managed to scale such impressive heights again, but Artour “Arteezy” Babaev has flown the flag for Canada with aplomb on the Dota 2 scene.
Arteezy is now a key member of the Evil Geniuses Dota 2 team, and he helped them finish third at The International 2018. Teammate Tal “Fly” Aizik is an Israeli/Canadian pro, with career earnings of $2.4 million. That makes him the highest-paid Canadian gamer of all time, ahead of Arteezy, who has earned $2.25 million, and Aui_2000 with $2 million.
Hayden “Elevate” Krueger also hit headlines when he secured a third placed finish in the duos event at last year’s Fortnite World Cup. He was just 16 years old at the time, and in one fell swoop he earned a $955,000 prize.
Williams “Zayt” Aubin, a 19-year-old Canadian, finished fourth in the duos event at the Fortnite World Cup, netting $750,000. He is now 20 and his career earnings stand at $1.1 million.
CS:GO is actually the most popular esports game in Canada. There are 19 pro squads in the country, and it has yielded many famous players, including Twistzz, NAF, stanislaw and shroud. Canada also has a thriving StarCraft II scene, while the likes of SquishyMuffinz and JKnaps have flourished at Rocket League.
Mergers and Acquisitions Spell Big Business
The success of these players has fuelled considerable interest in pro gaming among Canadians. Yet the country plays an even more important role behind the scenes. Both domestic and international companies have listed on the TSX, TSXV and CSE as a result of the favourable regulatory framework it offers.
This has led to a raft of opportunities for investors and legal professionals in Canada, creating jobs and boosting the economy, while putting the country at the centre of a thriving global industry.
We have seen some large mergers and acquisitions over the past year. On August 30, 2019, a Canadian esports behemoth was formed when Aquilini GameCo Inc. completed its acquisition of Luminosity Gaming Inc. and Luminosity Gaming (USA), LLC, as well as its subsequent amalgamation with J55 Capital Corp. The enlarged firm, Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc., now owns eight esports teams, including the popular Vancouver Titans Overwatch League franchise, along with 40 esports influencers, more than 100 gaming media websites, and more than 900 YouTube and Twitch channels.
A Flourishing Scene
Canada is now a hotbed for esports teams, streamers and publishers. Last year, the country’s largest dedicated esports arena opened in the heart of downtown Montreal. The Esports Central Gaming Complex boasts 94 cutting-edge PCs, 26 consoles, six racing simulators, two Virtuix Omni VR stations and more.
“It’s more than just entertainment, we’re here to unite the gaming community under one roof,” said Delilah Kanou, Esports Central’s president. “It’s a place to grow and thrive, with a supportive network of like-minded gamers. It’s the destination where future esports champions will emerge.”
Social distancing is the name of the game right now, but projects like Esports Central will help the competitive gaming scene flourish long into the future in Canada. The popularity of the scene will continue to soar in the years ahead. In 2019, NewZoo revealed that there were 450 million esports viewers around the world.
That figure will soar in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. Gambling companies have reported a surge in demand for esports wagering markets during the absence of traditional sport and, as you can see here, there are a number of exciting options for fans to choose from.
The Sky is the Limit
It shows just how mainstream the esports scene is becoming. Fans of hockey, football and basketball might have previously written off pro gaming as the domain of nerdy types and shown zero interest in esports. Now they are clamouring to watch Dota 2, CS:GO and Rocket League tournaments.
Pro gamers are now multimillionaires with massive social media followings and highly aspirational lifestyles. Canadian gamers relate to them and want to follow in their footsteps, and this trend should one day help esports usurp traditional sports in the popularity stakes.
That might sound far-fetched, but competitive gaming is still in its infancy and it is already more popular than many traditional sports. It significantly over-indexes among teenagers and young adults, and they are the future. It will continue to become more exciting and dynamic each year thanks to advances in technology such as AR and VR, while traditional sports will remain staid and static.
Esports has the potential to become the most popular form of entertainment in the world, and Canada has the opportunity to remain at the heart of the trend. The future looks very bright indeed.
85% pause activity as esports tops the betting bill in Germany
The unrepresentative survey, which was conducted as a poll amongst members of the MySportwetten.de community, was set up to indicate just how much the betting world in Germany has changed as a result of COVID-19.
For the period 17-23 April, it investigated to what extent bettors are still placing bets, on which sports they are currently betting, and which online gambling alternatives they are using while their favourite sports and leagues are being paused.
While 14.9% of the participants said that they are still placing bets, 85.1% said that they have paused betting activities – a result that correlates with the numbers released by the country’s sports betting federation Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV), which estimated that the loss of revenue for most betting brands was higher than 90%.
Added to that, 77% of the MySportwetten.de members surveyed have not just stopped betting but also their whole online gambling activities. 5% are still playing online poker or using online casinos while, interestingly, 3.1% have started trading on the stock market.
In terms of sports still available for betting, esports is getting by far the most attention from the MySportwetten.de betting community. An impressive 75% of those still active are placing their money on esports bets. Football, usually the clear number one in the German betting world, comes in with just 7.1%.
Scoring surprisingly well is table tennis bets (14.3%). There were also some participants (3.6%) who mentioned darts as their number one sport to currently bet on.
It will be interesting to see how these betting trends develop over the coming weeks, particularly as rumours persist over the imminent return of the German Bundesliga – alongside more tentative stories around ‘Project Restart’ for the Premier League.
The full results of the survey can be viewed in German HERE.
GARETH BALE LAUNCHES NEW ELLEVENS ESPORTS TEAM WITH GLOBAL SEARCH TO RECRUIT WORLD-CLASS GAMERS
- Football icon Gareth Bale is the co-owner of new esports venture Ellevens Esports, which is launching with a FIFA team
- Gamers are invited to take part in a global talent search to find players to join the Ellevens team. Visit ellevens-esports.com for more information
- Fans can engage with the latest team news via Gareth Bale’s social media and can watch the side compete in the FIFA eClub World Cup in Milan in February
Real Madrid and Wales football superstar Gareth Bale has today launched a brand new esports organisation called Ellevens Esports. The franchise initially launches with a FIFA team and will make its competitive tournament debut in the prestigious FIFA eClub World Cup this February 2020.
Gareth Bale is inviting gamers worldwide to take part in an open talent search which offers the chance to join Ellevens Esports on a professional esports contract. Ellevens is set to expand across a range of further esports platforms such as Fortnite, Rocket League and CS:GO. Gamers can register at ellevens-esports.com for further information.
Four-time UEFA Champions League winner Gareth Bale said: “On the pitch, my goal is always to win. With Ellevens Esports, that winning attitude is just as important. There are similarities between football and esports in that it takes real dedication and sacrifice to reach the top of your game.”
“I am looking to recruit a team of world-class players for Ellevens across a variety of games. Unearthing new talent is an exciting part of the process and it’s been really exciting to be involved in selecting our line-up of players so far!”
Gareth Bale features in a launch video for Ellevens alongside professional FIFA players Pedro Resende, Ethan Higgins and Tyler Phillips, and content creator Tom Linnell.
Galactico Gareth Bale joins a list of stellar sporting names including Michael Jordan and Odell Beckham Jr, who have recently invested into the world of competitive esports gaming. The industry has seen significant growth in recent years, with worldwide industry revenues reaching $1Billion in 2019.
Prize funds for esports tournaments have also grown, with the Fortnite World Cup 2019 solo prize winning 16-year-old, Kyle [Bugha] Giersdorf, taking home $3,025,900, even exceeding the prize money won by Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon $2,983,748 and Tiger Woods for his Masters win $2,070,000.
Ellevens Esports is co-owned by Gareth Bale and 38 Entertainment Group. 38 Entertainment is founded by investor and entrepreneur Jonathan Kark and former professional footballer Larry Cohen.
MONUMENTAL SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES MARQUEE JERSEY PATCH PARTNERSHIP WITH ALARM.COM FOR WIZARDS DISTRICT GAMING
Partnership also includes entitlement of exclusive draft day coverage
Monumental Sports & Entertainment has announced a multiyear marquee jersey patch partnership with Alarm.com for Wizards District Gaming of the NBA 2K League.
As part of this landmark partnership, Alarm.com will have virtual in-game signage during Wizards District Gaming play in the NBA 2K League in addition to the official jersey patch entitlement. Alarm.com will also have entitlement of NBA 2K League Draft coverage for Wizards District Gaming, which holds the No. 1 overall pick this season for the first time in franchise history.
“We are thrilled to announce Alarm.com as the official jersey patch partner of Wizards District Gaming,” Zach Leonsis, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, said. “Headquartered locally with a tremendous global reach and focus on technology, Alarm.com is trusted by millions of people worldwide to protect their homes and businesses and we couldn’t be more excited to incorporate their brand in a wide array of unique activations.”
“We’re entering the next evolution of our long-standing relationship with Monumental Sports & Entertainment,” said Anne Ferguson, VP of marketing at Alarm.com. “The emerging universe of esports and the NBA 2K League is a natural fit for exposing legions of tech-savvy players and fans to Alarm.com. We’re always looking for ways to be front and center with people who may want to include Alarm.com in their daily lives or join a great team that’s creating the next generation of smarter home and business solutions. Aligning our brand with Wizards District Gaming creates unique opportunities to help us achieve those goals.”
The partnership also features experiential activations including a Wizards District Gaming sponsored employee program and player appearances, as well as social media features, branded content, run-of-site digital banner advertisements and brand integration within Twitch.
The qualifying stages for the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft tipped off on Tuesday, Oct. 22 and will run through Sunday, Nov. 10. The 2020 NBA 2K League Draft will take place Feb. 19, 2020.
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