How much do you think an esports team is worth?
Ask anyone the question and the answers are bound to be all over the place. My roommate said $2 million. My dad said half a billion. My brother ignored my text. The reason the answers are so chaotic is that the esports industry is changing more rapidly than your average observer can keep up with. A few years ago, $2 million would have been a good guess. In 2019, $500 million might be.
But one thing’s for sure: Forbes’s new list of the most valuable esports franchises is a testament to how rapidly the competitive gaming industry is growing—the numbers are already impressive, and only getting bigger.
Unlike traditional sports teams, these organizations usually aren’t focused on strictly one sport. All of the top five organizations have competitive teams spanning a myriad of games, including League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Call of Duty and more. A diverse roster of games gives teams a better chance at success and caters to fans of different genres. The difference between watching League of Legends and Call of Duty is as distinct as watching football and basketball.
These teams aren’t just strictly sports operations either. Many of them operate in the spheres of merchandise and entertainment. 100 Thieves, the brand Drake and Scooter Braun recently invested in (and the 11th most valuable on the Forbes list), was started as a clothing brand by pro gamer Nadeshot. Since then, they’ve expanded into creating professional esports teams and Nadeshot said that the Drake/Braun investment will go toward the company’s apparel and content arms.