Former NBA Player Rick Fox Buys Esports Team Gravity

E-Sports Revenue Expected to Reach $1 Billion by 2018

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Credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Three-time National Basketball Association champion Rick Fox is taking a shot at another kind of title. The ex-Laker has bought the e-sports team Gravity, which competes in the North American "League of Legends" Championship series.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Other e-sports teams have sold recently at prices reported by industry trade publications at around $1 million.

In e-sports, video-game players (or teams of players) compete against each other in front of live and online audiences. The overall global audience is estimated at more than 200 million, mostly outside the U.S., according to an October report from brokerage firm Robert W. Baird & Co.

Overall revenue is expected to grow from around $300 million this year to $1 billion by 2018. E-sports also did its first U.S. TV deal earlier this year: Turner Broadcasting System is starting a league for the "Counter Strike: Global Offensive" first-person shooter game, and will air competitions on Friday nights starting in the summer of 2016.

"League of Legends," which is published by Riot Games, is the most popular game as measured by game-play, according to the report from Baird. More than 27 million people watched the 2014 "League of Legends" World Championship, more than watched the 2015 NBA Finals (19.9 million), and the live competition drew 11,000 fans to Madison Square Garden for the title event.

"I see the way that the eSports world is growing and I know we are on the verge of something massive," Fox said in a statement. He is also a partner at Twin Galaxies, the official video game world-record and player-ranking authority that was founded in 1981, and he donated his three NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers to the fundraiser #Right2Game, which supports professional gaming.

-- Bloomberg News

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