The eSports industry worldwide, according to Goldman Sachs, will exceed $1bn within three years, with growth rates in excess of 20% annually. Couple that growth with facts like the latest Dota 2 tournament offering a prize of over $24m, and eSports has reached such a point in its development where it can no longer be denied that harmless fun has become serious business. With Business Insider describing the eSports field as a “nascent industry filled with commercial opportunity”, it is perhaps no surprise that cutting edge technologies like Blockchain find themselves being explored in conjunction with eSports to create innovative solutions to the issues that this swiftly growing industry faces in continuing its expansion.
Alexander Kokhanovskyy, better known within the eSports community as ZeroGravity, is the founder of Natus Vincere, or Na`Vi, one of the leading eSports teams in the world, one of a growing number of teams thriving off the growth of the eSports sector, exemplifying the growing subgroup of gamers that make the leap from hobby to livelihood. We sat down with Alexander to talk about his introduction to the world of professional gaming, and to discuss DreamTeam, the soon-to-be-launched team management platform designed to facilitate and accelerate the growth of eSports.
Starting at the beginning, we asked Alexander about his journey from teenager to founder of Natus Vincere. Alexander, after starting life as a gamer in the early 90’s with Master of Orion, Colonization and Civilization, eventually got hooked on StarCraft and Counter Strike, making the leap to professional gaming in 2001. After appearing in his first world championship in South Korea, the World Cyber Games, Alexander continued in the field until founding Natus Vincere in 2009. We then asked Alexander for his thoughts on the future growth of the eSports industry looking forward, given the aforementioned growth the industry has already seen, and Alexander responded with optimism. “I am convinced that eSports is the sport of the future, and that in the next 10-15 years it will become the most popular sport on the planet”, pointing to the growth in sponsorships, media rights and prize money as indicators of this future growth.
Next, we wanted to get to know DreamTeam, and get to grips with its role in the future of eSports. Alexander, describing it as “a unique, all-in-one solution for everyone who wants to build, grow, manage and monetize their gaming teams”, laid out to us the features DreamTeam promises to offer – player/coach/team/manager search functionality, algorithm based skill identification and a comprehensive range of team management tools in order to create the one stop shop for the organisation of eSports from the perspective of every figure in the eSports ecosystem. Drawing comparisons between League of Legends and the Soccer universe, Alexander highlights the similarity in number of total players and disparity in the number of professional teams as a foil to development for the eSports industry, and a problem area that DreamTeam promises to address and offer a solution to by offering “a high quality platform to give users the whole scope of necccesary services and features for team creation, growth and management”.
We asked Alexander about the application of Blockchain within the DreamTeam platform, and for his thoughts on Blockchain technology as a whole, to which Alexander replied it was love at first sight when he spotted it, highlighting further that he believes Blockchain can be “the next big thing that can change the world we live in forever”. In particular, the potential of smart contracts ties in perfectly with DreamTeam’s vision, using Blockchain functionality to connect and unite players, teams, tournaments and sponsors on one platform through smart contracts, solving the problems that exist within the eSports industry team building process. Explaining these issues, Alexander highlighted a lack of transparency, risk of fraud/non-payment and contractual issues – “There are no standardized contracts for players and no open transfer policies”, DreamTeam is attempting to solve these issues using the power of Blockchain, “DreamTeam will give its users a simple all-in-one solution that will solve all of the above problems single-handedly”, and provide smart contract templates for any type of agreement in order to address them.
We finished the interview by asking about the future of Blockchain in eSports, and Alexander laid out not only DreamTeam’s phased rollout plan, but also his thoughts on the industry as a whole. DreamTeam will launch this September, with search functionality, before gradually adding functionality over 2018. On a wider note, Alexander posited that he “has a feeling that every year more and more Blockchain-based projects will appear in the world of gaming and eSports”.
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