DraftKings is launching a fantasy eSports product, the first foray for a major traditional fantasy sports site into the video game industry.
What we know so far
DraftKings announced the launch via its “Playbook:”
We’re launching an esports section on DraftKings, where you can play fantasy esports and win big money, just like you do now with football, baseball, and all the other sports we cover.
And, damn it, you should be excited about it. Fantasy esports are incredibly fun to play, and there’s always a big tournament or league happening at any given moment. There are dozens of different games being played competitively, and the players, games, and tournaments are constantly changing. It’s a fantasy lover’s heaven, where there’s always something new to look into, watch, and make picks for.
There are no active contests yet; players who are interested in playing fantasy eSports at DraftKings are prompted to sign up for notification when the product goes live.
CEO talks eSports
In a podcast with RotoGrinders’ Dan Back, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins had this to say about the launch:
“We actually have an eSports offering that we’ll be launching very soon. eSports may be the fastest growing category in all sports, and anything where you can fill arenas like Madison Square Garden and Staples Center — both of whom we have exclusive partnerships with I might add — any category you can fill that kind of spectator base, why can’t you have a great fantasy game?
Talking more about the prospects in general for the fantasy eSports space:
Fantasy is driven off of people wanting to watch games right, so i think that fantasy will be a natural fit and a natural kind of evolution of the eSports world. It’s a little bit different because the demo is slightly different, but there is the mobile app too. So I do think we’ll have people crossing between the traditional fantasy sports product and the fantasy eSports product.”
What games will be offered?
DraftKings made reference to several games in the post on its website. It’s not clear if fantasy products for all of them will be offered right off the bat, or at all. The games mentioned:
- League of Legends
- Dota 2
- StarCraft II
- Street Fighter
League of Legends appears to be the first eSport to be offered, per a blog post and this video:
Joining DFeS-only products
Fantasy eSports is not new. Two sites — Vulcun and AlphaDraft — already launched earlier this year, and both have grown exponentially in recent months, attracting large investments. For a wider analysis of the DFeS market, go here.
A new fantasy sports site called DraftPot already offered games based on League of Legends.
But none of the established DFS sites had joined the eSports vertical, until now.
The DraftKings arena tie-in
As Robins mentioned, DraftKings can leverage two of its existing relationships as it attempts to break into the fantasy eSports market.
Earlier this year, DraftKings signed deals with Madison Square Garden in New York City and Staples Center in Los Angeles. Those happen to be arenas that host major eSports events, as well.
If you think that’s not an interesting relationship, consider that MSG sold out for a recent LoL event, and Staples Center did the same, back in 2013.
We’re guessing you will see DraftKings attempt to have a presence at live eSports events, as well as find ways to push for its arena assets to host eSports events.
The DraftKings-ESPN tie-in
Just a few weeks ago, ESPN listed a position for an “eSports editor,” indicating that it was looking to expand its coverage of the sport.
That could have implications for DraftKings, which has an existing and soon-to-be-exclusive relationship with ESPN. Integration of DraftKings fantasy strategy alongside eSports content would seem to be a natural fit for the media platform and the DFS giant.