Players on US based fantasy operator HypSports now have the option to try out League of Legends for the LCS Summer Split.
Of course, real money fantasy esports is no new thing. DraftKings continue to offer League of Legends and ESP (otherwise known as Esports Pools) offer yet more options across multiple titles. Fantasy esports took a hit in 2016 when real money options Vulcun and AlphaDraft (which had been acquired by FanDuel) were shut down, but there are a number of companies looking into a ‘Take Two’ situation.
What HypSports is offering however is not daily fantasy, it’s season (or tournament) long. HypSports is available as an app on both iOS and Android, and Facebook too, and the beta platform launched in November 2016. Since then over sixty thousand players have taken part in competitions across basketball, baseball, American football and so on. Now it’s entering esports.
Mike Taramykin, CEO and Co-Founder of HypSports, said of their decision: “The popularity of fantasy sports has proven that fans want to be more than just spectators, and they become more engaged when they compete alongside with their favorite athletes.
“This applies to esports fans as much as it does to traditional sports fans. People are now growing up spending more time playing video games than traditional sports which is redefining ‘sports’ and what it means to be an ‘athlete.’ We believe that esports fans also want an extra level of fun and strategy that goes beyond the number crunching of fantasy sports, which is exactly what HypSports delivers.”
Taramykin has a background in gaming and has worked at the likes of EA Sport and was heavily involved in the release of the free to play versions of Madden NFL. The operator will begin its esports fantasy offering with League only, but has plans to expand beyond this.
Speaking to Esports Insider, Taramykin said: “We will be adding more esport leagues soon… starting with CS:GO. For now, we’re off to a great start. Since we added LoL at the beginning of June, we have had more than 10,000 LoL players from more than 100 countries. We chose LoL as our first esport because of audience size, league/event structure, and timing. Our goal was to launch esports this summer so it made most sense to align with the start of the EU and NA LCS splits in June.”
As to the crossover of its current user demographic and how they plan to market the esports side, he answered: “We do see strong crossover. In fact, 47% of LoL players are also playing MLB events. Given the general age gap between these two sports, we think that’s an excellent start.
“As you know, esports is a rapidly evolving industry with a lot of creative opportunities to promote products and services. But of course, not every opportunity makes sense for every business so we are trying a few different things right now including social, influencer, and small ad campaigns to get a sense of what works best for us. We are also developing platform features that will enable us to market/promote more organically as well.”
The HypSports CEO also confirmed that they will be looking into signing partnerships and brand ambassadors. This is something ESP announced recently with Thorin coming on board to help promote the company and its products. Taramykin noted: “Definitely. We are looking into several options. Since our platform is designed to bridge the gap between sports and esports, we are looking for (and talking to) potential ambassadors who can do the same.”
Esports Insider says: The resurgence of fantasy esports is on, and companies evidently believe they can make it work where others failed. The HypSports model is an intriguing one, but if the reported crossover in interest of its users is consistent and they establish the right partners, there’s no reason it can’t be a success and add value to their overall platform.