Esports Players League (ESPL), a new Singapore-headquartered global esports tournament network and platform, seeks to bring esports as everyday entertainment to grassroots gamers globally after raising a seed funding round backed by 500 Startups.
The funding round comes as research showed that the esports is forecast to reach an audience of about 645 million people this year, surpassing other traditional sports, such as baseball, rugby, and American football.
With regional offices in Cologne and Los Angeles, ESPL is developing an amateur competition network via what it describes as a hybrid online and on-ground model. It is launching a global footprint across 16 countries in its initial phase, covering Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
The first ESPL season is planned to run from April to November 2020, with the official details about the tournaments and locations to be announced soon, according to a press statement.
ESPL CEO Michael Broda said the entire team is excited to work with 500 Startups, the world’s most active venture capital firm, and future investees of 500 Startups that are aligned with ESPL’s esports mission.
“Our team is committed to delivering esports as mainstream entertainment to the global online gamer community, and, to achieve this, we require the support of a number of robust global partners,” Broda emphasized.
The amount raised in the seed funding round was not disclosed, but reports said it was $1 million. ESPL said it would be used to support in executing its initial business objective of rolling out ESPL-branded tournaments and platforms to ten countries in its first year of operation.
Phase one of ESPL’s global roll-out has yielded franchise partnership agreements in Southeast Asia and Latin America. ESPL also entered its first media partnership with eGG Network, the largest esports TV network in Southeast Asia and Australia that reaches approximately 100 million TV viewers.
500 Startups Managing Partner Khailee Ng said Esports is poised to surpass traditional sports. He cited research that suggests that the global esports audience is expected to reach 645 million in 2020, surpassing baseball, rugby, and American football.
“ESPL’s founding team has seen and been part of esports’ growth… We look forward to supporting them in their global journey,” Ng added.
Early this year, ATU Partners (ATU), a South Korean private equity firm that specialises in lifestyle investments, makes its foray into the esports space with the launch of a $17-million growth fund that focuses on the said industry.