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From the battlegrounds of Dota 2, to the roar of the crowd in a packed Fifa stadium, the world of competitive gaming has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Turning from a niche little pursuit in the community, to an economic powerhouse that every business in the land wants a slice of, it’s been an astronomical rise for those involved in Esports.
Multi-million pound sponsorships and staggering levels of investment from the likes of Intel, Monster, Red Bull and MasterCard amongst others have helped fund this meteoric rise, with most estimates now saying that the video gaming community is worth more than the music and video sectors combined.
For those involved in the community, owning teams and rosters has become one of the best ways of capturing the bulk of the sector’s value. Professional players compete in tournaments all around the world, with viewing figures regularly topping those put up by real-world sports and their prize pools soaring well into the millions.
There has never been a better time to get involved with this exciting scene, with these sides being the most famous and successful in the world and a great place to start your following.
North American side Team Liquid are, arguably, the most famous face in the Esports world. Founded on May 1st 2001 with the launch of their site by friends Victor ‘Nazgul’ Goossens and Joy ‘Meat’ Hoogeveen, the name ‘Team Liquid’ was initially selected by an online poll by the site’s viewers just a day later.
Whilst the company started out in games such as StarCraft and Dota, they now boast highly competitive teams in games ranging from Counter-Strike, Street Fighter, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Particular highlights include winning the 2017 Dota International, the most lucrative Esports tournament of all time at that point, and seeing their CS:GO side reach no.1 in the world earlier this year.
Bruce Stein is the current CEO of the company, with investors in the group including individuals such as Steve Case, Peter Guber and even sports superstar Magic Johnson. According to ESPN, the side is now worth a cool $200 million with an annual average revenue stream of around $17 million. Recognisable, widespread and unbelievably successful, Liquid are one of the biggest orgs in gaming and will surely keep their place at the top of the tree for many years to come.
One of the true founding fathers of the Esports world, Fnatic are a British-based company with professional teams in every leading title, ranging from Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Fifa and Rainbow Six. From their humble beginnings in 2004, Fnatic now boast an impressive 47 professional players under their banner, with headquarters in London and San Francisco.
According to Forbes, Fnatic are currently worth in the region of $120 million with an annual revenue of $11 million, the sixth highest in the world.
Fnatic’s League of Legends side won the very first World Championship in 2011 and remain one of the top ranked sides in the world even today. They finished as high as finalists as recently as last year, stunning esports betting markets everywhere as they slumped to a 3-0 loss to Chinese side Invictus Gaming and will be looking to make amends at this year’s competition. Their all-Swedish Counter-Strike side remains the second most successful in the game’s history also, winning a then-record of three majors between 2013 and 2015.
Founded by CEO Jack Etienne in 2012 after the acquisition of Quantic Gaming’s successful League of Legends side, American side Cloud 9 have become one of the most pioneering and dominant forces in the Esports world. Following on from their success in the North American League of Legends Championship Series, Cloud 9 found similar levels of success in games such as Heroes of the Storm, Counter-Strike, Hearthstone and Rocket League.
Ever the pioneering force, Cloud 9 have continued to evolve and find success in the recent explosion in popularity of the battle royale genre, boasting successful sides in PUBG, Apex Legends and Fortnite.
Cloud 9 are, statistically speaking, the world’s most valuable Esports team. Thanks to their performances in major competitions and their partnerships with companies such as BMW, Puma, Microsoft and even the US Air Force, Cloud 9 are currently worth $310 million and boast an annual revenue stream of $22 million.
Only Going To Get Bigger
Competitive video gaming is a scene that is only going to push its boundaries more and more in the coming months and years. The availability and appeal of it as a spectacle makes it a hit with its fans around the world, and it truly blends together the worlds of technology, entertainment and sports. With more and more lucrative partnerships coming in every week, teams and companies from all around the world are sure to take even more impressive strides in the near future.