A new real-money fantasy website based on the video game League of Legends is guaranteeing $1 million in prizes.
Vulcun, which formerly owned and ran Team Vulcun in League of Legends, is guaranteeing a million dollars in payouts for the current LoL season, which began in January and runs through 2015.
That escalated quickly
Just last month, Vulcun was starting up its fantasy league, with a guarantee of $250,000. A month later, and the response has apparently been so good that the website has quadrupled its guarantee for 2015.
The takeaway? Real-money fantasy contests are not just for athletic sports. Just one wildly popular video game has seen a huge number of people willing to draft teams of video game players in daily fantasy contests.
Vulcun’s LoL model means it’s not a stretch to expect real-money contests involving other games in the near future.
The same fantasy model
Video-game fantasy contests aren’t that much different from their athletic sports relatives:
- Contests are held daily, or weekly, whenever the NA (North America) and EU (European) seasons are active. Fantasy players can enter contests that are free or that have buy-ins and cash prizes.
- Fantasy players have a fixed budget, or salary cap, to draft LoL players for their fantasy team.
- The fantasy player receives points based on his or her roster’s performance (i.e. +2 points for a kill during a game).
- Live scoring is offered when a contest is active.
The site even features a regularly updated blog with contest updates and fantasy strategy.
Vulcun isn’t even the first fantasy contest on the market — Riot Games offers an official seasonlong freeplay fantasy contest.
There are lots of fans of League of Legends — and of different teams of LoL players — just like there are in more traditional sports. Tens of millions of people tune in for the LoL world championships, and hundreds of thousands tune into regular-season live streams. LoL also has 12 million Facebook “likes” and 2 million Twitter followers.
And, just like leagues like the NFL and NBA had learned, fantasy sports contests are a way to get fans more involved in the action — by giving fans a monetary interest in the outcomes of games. People already watch LoL in huge numbers just for fun; interest in LoL games could become even bigger if the fantasy market takes off.
Contest buy-ins start as low as a dollar, a price point any video gamer can afford.
Vulcan says it has “triple checked” that it is legal under the fantasy sports carveout of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It might seem far-fetched to some that lawmakers or the courts would lump video game players — or eSports — in the same basket with athletes from more traditional sports.
But eSports players are now considered professional athletes. In turn, it appears that means video-game fantasy contests don’t run afoul of the UIGEA.
Vulcun isn’t exactly FanDuel for video games yet — payouts to fantasy players so far have been about $50,000. But the first year of Vulcun’s offerings should be a litmus test for the video game fantasy market:
- Are gamers willing to spend money on fantasy LoL in significant amounts?
- Will Vulcun offer even more guaranteed prize money if interest continues to ramp up?
- Are there other video games that lend themselves to fantasy contests that will try to enter the market?
Video-game fantasy contests are in their infancy. But with the template for daily fantasy sports already laid out, we should find out pretty quickly whether video-game fantasy can be a reality beyond 2015.