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.


Smash insider’s claims Nintendo allegedly sabotaged esports goes viral

Published: 24/Nov/2020 17:47 Updated: 24/Nov/2020 19:43

by Michael Gwilliam


A detailed report from a supposed Smash Bros insider has gone viral for indicating how Nintendo has been allegedly trying to destroy the game’s esports scene for many years.

Nintendo has created a recent rift with its player base after the company hit The Big House, an online tournament, with a cease and desist order for playing on a modded version of Melee that used Slippi. Slippi is a tool that gives Melee seamless online play in 2020.

Following the cease and desist, many pros have blasted Nintendo, with some, such as Team Liquid’s Juan ‘Hungrybox’ Debiedma calling on the community to fight back against the Japanese gaming juggernaut.

Now, a Twitter account simply named “AnonymousSmasher” has gone viral for posting a massive account of all the ways Nintendo has reportedly hurt the game in the past.

The TwitLonger, titled “How Nintendo Has Hurt the Smash Community,” was reportedly written months prior to The Big House’s cancelation, but was released anonymously for “obvious reasons.”

“To begin, I want to state that I am not a journalist. What I’m writing below is directly from what I’ve been told by the individuals who work at these companies or are deeply familiar with the business dealings of these companies by the nature of their position in esports,” the author warned to begin the piece.

Following this, the individual went into detail about how third-parties such as Eleague, ESL and MLG have attempted to work with Nintendo, but the company was near impossible to work with being slow to respond or asking outrageous licensing fees.

The Super Smash Bros Melee roster
Melee has had its share of growing pains as an esport.

According to the insider, Twitch “had been in negotiations with Nintendo to run a sanctioned circuit for Smash, including Smash 4 and Melee, starting around 2015.”

The insider then claims that Twitch was fronting the costs which would have had a budget in the millions. “During this time, it’d seem like Twitch was always close, only to have conversations left without a response from Nintendo for months, thus delaying the process,” the insider revealed.

“Eventually, around early 2018, after 3 years of man-hours and efforts to appease Nintendo, the parties came to an agreement. This wasn’t just a verbal agreement, or an agreement made in good faith. It was a written contractual agreement meant to kick off the circuit for both Melee and Smash 4,” they further added.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down. “Unbeknownst to anyone, Nintendo had plans to announce Smash Ultimate in 2018. Nintendo began ghosting those working at Twitch, even after the agreement was made. Then, once Ultimate was announced, Nintendo came back to Twitch and effectively stated that the circuit no longer made sense with Ultimate in sight.”

The report has since been shared by prolific members of the community such as William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte who remarked, “I hope that one day we can #SaveSmash and its scene from Nintendo.”

Smash God Adam ‘Armada’ Lindgren seemed to confirm that a lot in the report was true. “I understand if people might be skeptical but believe me when I say that this is very accurate,” he said.

Of course take anything the anonymous poster says with a grain of salt. Without sources, their claims can’t be verified. However, it’s interesting that several prominent members of  the scene are backing it up. With the Smash community in an uproar, only time will tell if Nintendo finally backs down or if they dig their heels in continue to create a divide between them and the fandom.