Origin made a seed investment in Boston-based Gamer Sensei, an esports platform company, as part of a ~$4.1m oversubscribed round in the fall of 2017. Gamer Sensei’s flagship product pairs top esports players (“Senseis”) with gamers looking to improve their skills for fun or even to compete professionally.
The esports category is exploding. Just a $100m market in 2015, esports has enjoyed ~40% YoY revenue growth since, and is projected to be a $1.5B market opportunity by the end of the decade, thanks to growth in streaming revenue, sponsorship, ticket sales, tipping, and competitive prizes. We’re looking to capitalize on this upward trend with our investment in Gamer Sensei, as it provides a platform for esports to grow and thrive.
Gamer Sensei works with the engine behind esports growth: the skilled and popular players who are cultivating large followings. The platform is a great way for them to make money and enhance their following. Amateur players who aspire to join a team or improve their skills can turn to Senseis. An MLB-style “farm” system for talent may not be far away. The amount of money spent on coaches, leagues, players, camps, and training programs for traditional sports in the U.S. is staggering. We believe esports has advantages over the large traditional sports market: there are no geographic or time constraints, and instead of a local field, trainees show up to esports practice online, rain or shine, day or night, and with a coach always available.
In addition to pairing gamers with experts, Gamer Sensei offers other products that help build gaming mastery. It is collecting a library of data and insights as customers engage with its products that could have broad applicability, including in talent identification, training, recruiting and building teams, and content licensing.
Traditional sports institutions are catching the esports wave. The NBA has created a new esports league for its “2K” franchise, and these teams must “draft” full rosters of esports players for 17 teams. European soccer leagues have also embraced esports by creating professional esports franchises, which will likely create needs around developing and recruiting talent. Educational institutions are also embracing esports programming, and many are partnering with Gamer Sensei to develop curricula and provide students with live gaming experiences.
As esports continue to grow, we expect more institutions to join the esports bandwagon (even gamers’ parents are getting on board). The winners will become clearer and the ecosystem will mature. Gamer Sensei is positioning itself well to capitalize on the opportunities that will arise, and we at Origin are proud to have invested in the future of Gamer Sensei and esports.