Real-money fantasy website Vulcun announced it is now guaranteeing prize pools of $4 million for daily fantasy contests based on the video game League of Legends this year — an exponential increase since the site went live just two months ago.
1,500 percent growth
The growth is nothing short of extraordinary for the start-up DFS site, which was the first to the market with a fantasy offering based on a video game, along with Alpha Draft.
Here is the timeline for the site, which formerly owned and ran Team Vulcun in League of Legends before becoming a DFS website:
- Vulcun initially announced in January that it would be guaranteeing a quarter of a million dollars in prizes for for the 2015 eSports season for LoL, a multiplayer online battle arena game.
- Last month, the prize pools for 2015 were increased to $1 million at Vulcun.
- Today, the site is upping the guarantees for the season to $4 million, an increase of 1,500 percent from its initial guarantee. The new guarantee will include contests based on LoL as well as new offerings based on the game Dota 2, another multiplayer online battle arena game. Those contests are scheduled to open this week.
So far, so good
Vulcun has already paid out about $400,000 in prizes over its first eight weeks of operation.
Contests at Vulcun are much like that found on any DFS site, with daily and weekly contests where fantasy players compete against one another by drafting LoL players under a salary-cap format. Players score points based on their rosters’ performance during competitions between LoL teams.
“We had no idea that in just eight weeks we’d have a $4 million prize pool,” site co-founder Ali Moiz said. “But the response from the LoL community has been so tremendous that it has blown us away. Active user participation allows us to grow our prize pools. … We’re growing 10% each week.”
Vulcun has successfully monetized the legions of fans that play and watch LoL; tens of millions of fans tune in for the LoL world championships, and hundreds of thousands view regular-season live streams. Much like leagues in traditional team sports have found, DFS for video games has a chance to increase interest across the board.
“Our members regularly tell us that this makes watching the games so much more fun,” Moiz told ODFReport. “Many have started watching eSports again after leaving it earlier.”
Some might question the legality of fantasy sports contests based on video games, but Vulcan says it has “triple checked” that it is legal under the fantasy sports carveout of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Vulcun is basing its status as a DFS provider under the context that eSports players are now considered professional athletes.
According to Vulcun, the site has raised $1.3 million in funding from investors. “The funds are used for expanding operations and providing a better experience to users,” Moiz said.
Moiz said that Vulcun is “planning to run a six-figure guaranteed prize pool for a major event soon, in the next month or so.”
It’s clear after just two months that there was a huge, untapped market for fantasy sports based on video games. While daily fantasy sports — and football in general — have seen huge growth in recent years, it pales in comparison to what we have witnessed with Vulcun.
Mixed martial arts DFS contests, which got a bump from a deal between the UFC and DraftKings, is growing quickly. But even that looks like movement at a snail’s pace in comparison to the early growth experienced by LoL DFS.
What does the future hold for the video game DFS market?
- Will the exponential growth for Vulcun continue? Is it possible we will see more prize pool increases in coming months?
- Will other start-up websites attempt to get into the video game DFS space or challenge Vulcun? Alpha Draft is already in the space, and offers real-money contests. Based on Vulcun’s success, it seems hard to believe they won’t have more competitors soon.
- What other video games will be tapped into for DFS play? There are 89 million “eSports” enthusiasts across a range of video games, according to one estimate, and it seems like a matter of time until we see an expansion of other games with DFS offerings.
For now, Vulcun owns the market, and it appears to be poised for even more growth. What shape and size will that growth take? We’re just starting to find out after two months of the video game DFS market’s existence.