Mark Cuban explains why owning esports teams in America is “awful business” - Dexerto

Mark Cuban explains why owning esports teams in America is “awful business”

Published: 24/Oct/2019 0:18 Updated: 24/Oct/2019 8:37

by Isaac McIntyre


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has revealed his thoughts on owning esports teams in America, claiming investing in the scene is “awful business” and suggested those who bought into competitions like the Overwatch League had made a bad mistake.

Cuban first invested in the Dallas basketball team in 2000, and has been at the helm of the Mavericks for the past 19 years. In 2011, he was court-side when his team defeated Miami to claim the organization’s first-ever championship.

His initial investment in the NBA team cost him $285 million, more than ten times the rumored market buy-in prices of franchise slots in competitions like Overwatch, and the upcoming Call of Duty League, but Cuban believes esports is still a bad investment.

Activision-BlizzardMavericks owner Mark Cuban has issued a damning indictment of American esports.

According to the NBA owner, who also plies his trade as an investment advisor on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank, a lack of stability in the meta for games like League of Legends and Overwatch, as well as poor viewership in the States, are all reasons to avoid esports leagues.

“I absolutely wouldn’t (invest),” he told Kristine Leahy on Fair Game this week. “You know what the meta is? They change things all the time, whether its Overwatch, League of Legends, or Fortnite for that matter, although it’s not really an esport.”

The volatility of the game’s competitive environment, including regular patches “every 90-120 days” from developers to tweak characters, leaves the esports scene fully dependent on the game’s creators, he said, and suggested that’s a major problem for the leagues.

The unknown nature of the game, which seems ever-changing compared to sports like basketball or football, which have kept their same core rulesets since their foundation decades ago, is only one aspect of esports’ poor long-term financial future, he said.

Cuban said he’s watched fellow sports investors and personalities buy into newly founded gaming leagues, like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors with Riot’s LCS, and the New England Patriots owners in the OWL, and believes they’ve made major mistakes.

“I think a lot of people who bought into teams, not the esports themselves, had no idea how bad a business it was, no idea,” he said.

“Is it growing? Yes, but domestically here in the United States it’s an awful business, owning an esports team. I think you’re seeing a lot of consolidation, as people get out and try to sell. A lot of people are trying to raise more money, and valuations are going down.

“(The problem is) a lot of people who bought in didn’t recognize the difference between a stream and a viewer in Europe or Asia, against a stream here. You see all the Twitch numbers, and even Overwatch League only have 300,000 or so maximum viewers. That’s not a huge number.”

Fox SportsCuban spoke to Kristine Leahy on Fair Game about esports investments.

That’s not to say Cuban thought esports was a poor investment the world over.

Europe’s flourishing scenes are drawing in more and more viewers every day — Riot GamesLEC grand final between Fnatic and G2 Esports nearly hit a million concurrent watchers according to EsportsCharts — and Asia’s leagues are bigger and better than ever.

“Being in Asia, there’s money there. If you’re in Korea, there’s tons of money there, it’s real,” he said. “If you’re in China, there’s money there. If you’re here, no so much. Look at what streamers go through. Ninja kills it, but he went to Mixer to make money (with the deal).”

Twitch viewership seems to be only part of the puzzle, however, with game developers beginning to clue in to Cuban’s ideas regarding misrepresentation of popularity through pure view-counts. Blizzard especially has begun to move away from peak concurrent viewing numbers, and has begun tracking other metrics like Average Minute Audience.

In the 2019 OWL season, Blizzard reported a 16% increase in AMA, with a season average of 313,000. The final reportedly had an 182,000 AMA for the 18-34 demographic, with the title fight streamed across Twitch, YouTube, Zhanqi, CC, Huya, Bilibili, and live on television via the ABC.

Riot GamesThe Mavericks owner believes esports’ changing metas are bad for the competitive scene.

It seems Cuban may have hit the nail on head in some aspects, with legacy North American esports organization Counter-Strike roster as well.

Not everyone seems to be eyeing an exodus from esports, however, with former NBA superstar Rick Fox set to stay in the scene with new organization Twin Galaxies International despite his recent messy departure from Echo Fox.


10 players to watch during Valorant’s First Strike Global Finals

Published: 26/Nov/2020 16:58

by Lauren Bergin


With the Valorant First Strike qualifiers coming to a close all across the globe, some players have risen to the top of the pack — but who are they? 

It’s safe to say that Riot Games’ first global tournament, First Strike, has left its mark in FPS history. There’s been upsets, shocking results and, of course, some absolutely wild plays. Some of the top tier teams fell at the final hurdle, and others powered up by friendship have emerged triumphant.

One of the positives about having the tournament be played online is that it lets smaller teams shine, highlighting players who maybe never would have made it onto the big stage.

Every region is going to see some fierce competition for their regional title, and it’s going to be exciting to watch who prevails and who falters. Below is our list of players who can shift the First Strike tides, so let’s dive right in.

European players to watch

Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom (Team Liquid)

When Team Liquid picked up former CS:GO pro ScreaM, Valorant fans were beyond excited, and for good reason. Renowned for being the “headshot machine” of CS:GO, it was pretty obvious that ScreaM joining the Valorant scene heralded even more head-popping chaos.

From start to finish ScreaM has dominated the First Strike qualifiers on his signature Jett, scoring an ace against Prodigy Esports that will go down in Valorant history as one of the cleanest. Are you ready to scream for Liquid? Well, get ready to watch the man himself obliterate the competition in the First Strike Regional Finals.

Ardis ‘ardiis’ Svarenieks (G2 Esports)

One of the most formidable players on this list is Ardiis, G2 Esports’ sniper extraordinaire. With a KD of 1.24 and a whole host of Agents available in his pool, Ardiis has quite rightly been dubbed by many casters, analysts, and other professionals as one of the game’s best players.

He’s proven that his skill matches up to the hype. One of the key carries in G2’s series against Ninjas in Pyjamas, Ardiis’ Sova was a force to be reckoned with. Sneaking behind enemy lines, shooting out devastating shock darts left, right and center, G2 couldn’t have done it without him. It’ll be interesting to see how he steps up in the regional final, especially when the title of First Strike Europe champion is on the line.

Pontus ‘Zyppan’ Eek (FPX)

When FunPlus Phoenix entered the Valorant scene we knew the sparks would fly, but we never knew that Zyppan would be the reason. The ex-Fortnite player’s Raze has become a true force on Future Earth, demolishing every team he’s been put up against.

With a KD of 1.32, his aggressive style is one we’d love to see more of in Valorant. His performance against The Opportunists is the perfect example of why he’s on such a highly respected roster, and it’ll be exciting to see how he shapes up against Ardiis and FunPlus’ arch nemesis, G2.

Domagoj ‘doma’ Fancev (SUMN FC)

SUMN FC aren’t a team that many people expected to be playing with the big guns, but doma is one of the reasons that the team are up there. The young Croatian has led SUMN to countless victories in past tournaments, with his Raze plays being explosive as the agent herself.

Doma has become one of the team’s most dominant forces, scoring headshot after headshot against eXiLe eSports in their qualifying match. Will he be able to outwit foes such as ScreaM and Zyppan? Maybe so, but what’s for sure is that he’s going to give them a fight to remember.

North American players to watch

Jake ‘kaboose’ McDonald (Team Envy)

Kaboose might not get as much recognition on Envy as his teammates like FNS, Crashies, and food, but he’s proven to be the player this roster needs to fly right to the top. The duelist specialist was the star of the Envy lineup that ended up winning the First Strike NA NSG Qualifier, topping the Average Combat Score (ACS) charts and styling on the likes of T1 and 100 Thieves.

While he was a CS:GO veteran of five years, he never really got his chance in the spotlight while playing in MDL. Now, in Valorant First Strike, he really has the chance to get the breakout he’s been grinding for years.

Quan ‘dicey’ Tran (100 Thieves)

If there was any doubts about Dicey’s skill before he joined 100 Thieves, they’ve surely been silenced by now. The young star is on the rise in Valorant, spearheading an incredibly talented and experienced roster. He might not have the name value of his teammates like Hiko and nitr0, but give him six months and he will.

His Jett put Wardell to shame in the NSG Qualifier for First Strike, but he’s also shown he can pick up other roles like Sova as well while on Prospects. He also has the brain to match the aim: one can’t forget his insane 1v4 ace against Sentinels on Bind back in Pop Flash. Now in his biggest competition yet, Dicey really has the chance to cement himself as a household name in Valorant.

Jay ‘sinatraa’ Won (Sentinels)

Sinatraa has a real chance to become an undisputed GOAT in two titles. The Overwatch League MVP has made a splash in Valorant with Sentinels, and is widely considered to be the best player in NA. His ability to flex between Agents is testament to his versatility. Across just two series against 100 Thieves and T1 in the NSG Qualifier, he played four Agents in Raze, Sova, Jett, and Phoenix.

His uncanny ability to top the score charts, all while playing a more supportive role on Sova (most of the time) is incredible. There was a reason why he’s considered one of the best Overwatch players of all time, and now he’s living up to that GOAT title in Valorant.

Noah ‘jcStani’ Smith (Immortals)

Immortals have been through a lot of changes, but jcStani has been a rock for the squad. He’s filled in every possible role no matter who leaves, and although he more often than not finds himself on support, he still manages to frag out like a duelist.

jcStani’s leadership of the Immortals roster that has been in flux, even during First Strike with ShoT_Up’s illness, has steered them to where they are today. Now with things starting to stabilize, it’s only a matter of time until the best of Immortals and jcStani really gets to shine.

Notable mentions

Goo ‘Rb’ Sang-min (Vision Strikers)

Rb is probably the best Valorant player you’ve never heard of. The Vision Strikers star is the King of Korean Valorant. There’s a reason why his team are on an undefeated 43-0 streak, and a lot of it has to do with Rb. His incredible fragging ability allows his squad to execute the most well-coordinated strats seen across the globe.

Rb boasts a career ACS of 245. To put that in perspective, Sinatraa has a career ACS of 241, Ardiis has 245, and the only player who really beats him is ScreaM on 258. The level of competition in Korea is fierce as well between T1 Korea, C9 Korea, and more, but Rb manages to consistently come out on top on Jett, making him one of the most exciting prospects once international play gets going.

Chris ‘pl1xx’ Li (EXO Clan)

To round out our list, it’s time to take a trip down under to chat about EXO Clan’s pl1xx. Is there anything pl1xx can’t play? Probably not. He is an incredibly flexible player for Oceania’s number one team, and while he calls himself a Sova main, he can basically play anything his team needs, including Reyna and Raze.

A once-budding Counter-Strike prodigy, the Australian has found himself a new home in Valorant. Widely touted as Oceania’s best player – with maybe a bit of debate between his teammates – pl1xx’s flexibility and keen aim makes him one of the most versatile players not just in his home region, but across the globe.

So that’s it for our list of players to watch going into the global First Strike finals. There are a hundred different ways this list could have went, but these players are certainly standouts and we can wait to see how they perform.