Could fantasy esports be the next growth opportunity in the competitive gaming space? Thanks to companies like FanDuel and DraftKings, the fantasy sports arena is already worth an estimated $18.6 billion. Considering the strong gambling connection to fantasy sports, and the recent rise in esports betting, we’ve already seen DraftKings partner with leading esports org FaZe Clan.
Some traditional sports athletes are taking matters into their own hands. Not only do numerous sports celebrities already play video games and livestream, but there have been several who have actively invested in esports. Kansas City Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster, who founded esports club Team Diverge in 2020, has now also invested in World Champion Fantasy and will act as spokesperson for its new fantasy esports platform PlayerX, which is currently in beta.
PlayerX is aiming to position itself as a hub of sorts for esports fans, not simply a platform for fantasy esports leagues. It’ll offer visitors esports highlights, live feeds of tournaments, customizable avatars, theme music, chat capabilities, and more. The platform is kicking off with support for Valorant and CS:GO, with League of Legends and Call of Duty being added next year.
When PlayerX does come to market, it will count numerous esports veterans and athletes among its ranks, not just Smith-Schuster. Five-year NFL QB and professional esports athlete Kurt Benkert will be one of the group’s advisors and board members.
However, unlike DraftKings, PlayerX will be esports-centric and family-friendly, as the platform will not feature any gambling experiences. While betting can be an attractive component of fantasy sports, PlayerX believes that going with a family-friendly approach will enable faster adoption. Benkert noted that he joined the company because of its “evolutionary vision to expand, elevate and mainstream esports.”
According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, there’s already a great deal of synergy between esports and fantasy sports, as esports viewers are much more likely to participate in any fantasy sports league compared to the general US population. Nearly half of US esports viewers report participating in a sports fantasy league whereas fewer than one-quarter of the general population does so. With the help of stars like Smith-Schuster and Benkert, PlayerX could be poised to tap into this robust segment of the esports audience; they could even help bring traditional sports and sports fantasy followers into the esports ecosystem.
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