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Yoda Labs: How E-Sports is destined to drive mass Web3 gaming and crypto adoption?

The most in-depth research on Web3 gaming and e-sports by Yoda Labs, DappRadar, BGA and Sura Gaming

The flourishing esports industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, exceeding $1 billion in revenue. During this period, the blockchain-based gaming industry has expanded rapidly, revolutionizing traditional gaming practices with novel concepts such as tokenized in-game economies and player rewards.

Esports and cryptocurrencies have followed similar trajectories, emerging as major players in the 21st century despite being largely unknown to the general public a couple of decades ago. However, there has been a historical divide between the two: esports are viewed as visually stunning gaming events performed by skilled professionals, while cryptocurrencies are associated with numbers, statistics, and financial transactions. Until recently, the two concepts seemed incompatible.

As the worlds of Web3 gaming and esports collide, it begs the question: will this fusion open the gates to widespread adoption of immersive Web3 games and crypto? Join us today as we explore this exciting topic, brought to you by Yoda Labs, DappRadar, BGA, and Sura gaming E-sports team.

Table of Contents

  • A Brief Glimpse into the Evolution of Esports

  • Why is Esports Popular?

  • The Game Changer: How Esports is Revolutionizing the Gaming Industry

  • The State of Esports: Assessing the Health of the Industry.

  • Crypto: A Doorway to Opportunities

  • Esports Betting: Another emerging field where crypto shines

  • Challenges In Adoption

  • Signs of a Blossoming Bromance!

  • Money Gushing In

  • The Pioneers

  • Opportunities, Even From The Niche

  • Polygon: The Game Changer for Esports?

  • The Intersection of Cryptocurrency and Gaming: A Look into the Future

  • Emerging Web3 Esports Tournaments and Competitions: a Sneak Peak

  • Sura Gaming - Insights from the Pioneers of Web3 Gaming and Esports

  • Conclusion

A Brief Glimpse into the Evolution of Esports

The realm of esports, also known as electronic sports, involves highly competitive gaming contests between professional players - either in individual or team settings, with cash rewards awaiting the victors at the end of each tournament.

Although professional esports has been in existence for close to two decades, it is in the latter half of that span that its audience has surged into the hundreds of millions, compelling the gaming industry to sit up and take notice - and even endorse the trend.

Undoubtedly, Esports is a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape that spurs change in the gaming industry and inspires fresh technological and entrepreneurial innovations.

The staggering viewership of nearly 74 million for Riot Games' League of Legends world championships in 2021 is a testament to the immense growth of esports. But how did we get here?

The very first informal esports event took place way back in 1971 at the University of Stanford, where students from various fields of study competed in an "Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics."

Source: Wikipedia

This event paved the way for similar friendly contests- until the Space Invaders Championship in 1980, which marked the beginning of official competitive gaming events. Over 10,000 players participated in the championship, and the remarkable response from gamers and media alike proved that there was potential for esports to become a global phenomenon.

During the late 1980s, Nintendo emerged as a dominant force in the early esports scene by launching its iconic first console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This console brought forth timeless titles such as Super Mario World and Street Fighter 2, which gained immense popularity at tournaments worldwide.

Nevertheless, connecting with fellow gamers was quite challenging in the late 1990s, as there were no social media platforms or well-established gaming events.

Source: Forbes

However, the emergence of the internet and PC gaming propelled esports to worldwide fame. Today, some of the most sought-after esports games include Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Madden NFL, Overwatch, Dota 2, and Fortnite.

Why is Esports Popular?

According to data from Statista, the esports industry has generated an impressive $1.38 billion in global revenue as of 2022, with an audience of 532 million people worldwide.

Source: Statista

Many researchers predict these numbers to soar even higher, with revenue forecast to hit $1.87 billion by 2025 and the viewership expected to surpass 640 million people. These figures are a testament to the esports industry's exponential growth and immense potential.

The surge in the popularity of esports is not a coincidental occurrence. Various factors contribute to the meteoric rise of this industry.

  • Entertainment value: Esports is entertaining due to the high level of competition, skill, and high stakes in the games.

  • Game quality: The advancements in video game graphics have made it easier for players to feel immersed in the action of esports tournaments.

  • Accessibility: Esports is relatively easy and cheap to begin playing, making it accessible to anyone regardless of age, gender, physical ability, cultural background, or location.

  • Social value: Esports offers a social experience where gamers worldwide can connect, play, and form friendships in virtual arenas.

  • Loyal community: Esports has a dedicated and passionate fan base, similar to traditional sports, with a culture of fandom that continues to grow.

  • Career opportunities: Esports has become a legitimate career path, with professional players and teams competing for large sums of money in tournaments worldwide.

As gaming continues to evolve, more and more players are turning their passion into a profitable career, especially those who reign supreme at the top.

However, the current structure of centralized competitions and organizer-led events poses a small but significant issue - only the very best can earn a decent living.

In the gaming world, just like in life, there are few rewards for second place, and opportunities for financial gain are intermittent rather than consistent.

But here's an interesting anecdote: at a Starcraft tournament in 2011, the eighth-place winner walked away with a whopping 25 $BTC, while the grand prize winner took home only $500. Perhaps that player had never been happier to come in eighth place than at that moment!

Undoubtedly, the winds of change are blowing in the esports industry, and blockchain tech is at the helm of the ship. A recent Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA) report (pg.28) suggests that esports is gaining significant traction in the Web3 space.

The report also highlights that popular Web2 esports teams are now venturing into the blockchain gaming industry to expand their competitive careers and take advantage of the potential benefits that come with it.

The rise of blockchain-based gaming is revolutionizing the entire landscape of esports, offering a new level of transparency, ownership, and engagement for players and fans alike.

The Game Changer: How Esports is Revolutionizing the Gaming Industry

The remarkable growth in revenue and participation within the esports industry has profoundly impacted the gaming industry more significantly.

1. Novel Game Design

Esports has significantly impacted game design, prompting developers to create titles with the competitive gaming audience in mind. As a result, many game developers have shifted their focus towards designing games that are easy to understand and watch for spectators.

While not all game genres are suited for esports, the growing demand for competitive gaming has led to a surge in popularity for certain types of games, including first-person shooters and MOBAs.

Moreover, developers are constantly introducing new content and updating existing versions to enhance the gameplay experience, reflecting the close interaction and collaboration between developers and gamers through feedback and implementation. This iterative process ensures that the game continues to evolve and improve, catering to the demands and expectations of its user base.

2. Enhancing Gameplay

Esports has played a significant role in popularizing collaborative gameplay among competing teams and groups of friends. Game developers are considering these behavior patterns, optimizing the overall gaming experience by delivering a more enjoyable balance of collaboration and competition.

Additionally, esports competitions serve as a platform for the world's best players to compete against each other, providing invaluable data and inspiration for updates to enhance gameplay and the overall experience.

3. Incorporating VR

As we continue to explore the possibilities of the Metaverse, integrating VR technology into esports is an exciting development that game developers are starting to explore. In fact, VR esports leagues exist, with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends tournaments being streamed live to VR devices.

Moreover, VR not only provides a competitive esports experience for players but also enhances the experience for fans. It offers them a better point-of-view and the "feel" of the game, allowing them to immerse themselves in a higher level of engagement and become more emotionally invested in esports.

4. Onboarding New Users

Esports' remarkable expansion has given rise to a plethora of streaming platforms. Among them, Twitch dominates as the top global platform for streaming video games, especially esports.

In 2022, Twitch boasted an average of 2.58 million concurrent viewers, and approximately 7.6 million users streamed on the platform at least once a month. Twitch has played a pivotal role in the gaming world's transformation by redefining how gamers access and consume gaming titles.

Moreover, it has introduced esports to an entirely new audience. Through platforms like Twitch, esports has transformed into a multi-billion-dollar industry, enabling renowned esports players to earn substantial salaries from sponsorships and advertising fees. Game developers have partnered with prominent streamers like Twitch and Roblox to expand their market reach.

The State of Esports: Assessing the Health of the Industry

The esports industry has seen significant downsizing recently, with prominent organizations like Team SoloMid and 100 Thieves (the two most valuable esports organizations according to Forbes) cutting numerous positions.

In addition, Evil Geniuses, a long-standing esports group, shut down its North American team that participated in the widely popular game "Defense of the Ancients 2" and switched its focus to South America. Even game publishers are downsizing their esports efforts, affecting tournament organizers, teams, and players.

Riot Games, for example, announced in early November 2022 that it would be closing its official Wild Rift leagues outside of Asia to focus solely on the mobile gaming market. Additionally, a popular Super Smash Bros. tournament was canceled due to the lack of a license from Nintendo.

In 2018, the esports industry received a record-breaking $4.5 billion investment, including from private equity firms entering the scene for the first time, according to a report by Deloitte.

However, that boom has faded, and VC investment in esports is currently at its lowest point since 2016 (excluding 2020, when live esports tournaments' viability was in question due to pandemic restrictions), according to data from PitchBook.

Although 261 million people worldwide watch esports every month, each fan contributes only $5.30 in revenue per year, as reported by NewZoo.

Adding to this challenge, viewership for mainstream esports leagues such as the League of Legends Championship Series has hit a five-year low, leading to less profitable broadcasting and streaming deals in the US and Europe.

Sponsorship deals from the cryptocurrency industry have been some of the most significant in recent times, accounting for 15% of all esport sponsorships in 2022, according to NewZoo.

However, the decline in the cryptocurrency market, coupled with the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX after a liquidity crisis, has resulted in reduced funding from this industry for a while.

Nevertheless, after the recent market recovery, things are starting to look good!

Arnold Hur, CEO of leading esports organization Gen. G, believes publishers must create digital revenue opportunities for the esports ecosystem and benefit from it. He said:

"It's important that publishers step in to find a solution to create digital revenue opportunities for the esports ecosystem they have built and benefit from. It's clear that relying solely on media and sponsorship deals, especially in this kind of market, simply will not work."

And this is exactly where blockchain comes into play!

Crypto: A Doorway to Opportunities

1) Bringing Decentralization to Esport

While most gamers may not have the skills to join a professional esports team, blockchain offers a solution to enable them to participate in competitive tournaments. Unlike traditional sports with lower-tiered leagues, esports tournaments are still largely localized and exclusive.

Take Blizzard's decision to remove LAN from SC2, for example. Despite the game's success, it ultimately lost out to its predecessor, Brood War, as the game of choice for the Korean gaming public. It shows us that community is vital- and without the right tools to create transparent, fair competitions open to all and underpinned by a robust economy, the community can quickly fall apart.

However, platforms like Communitygaming.io utilize smart contracts to record results and distribute rewards transparently and tamper-proof, enabling anyone to host and participate in tournaments, from amateur level up to the pros.

Such Web3 platforms decentralize and democratize esports, creating opportunities for all gamers who wish to compete for rewards.

2) Diversifying the Revenue Streams

By leveraging blockchain, Web3 gaming platforms create diversified revenue streams for game developers, players, and fans in the esports industry. The integration of cryptocurrency and NFTs allows game producers to generate revenue for esports events through token sales and transaction fees.

Players can also earn money by playing games, and fans are rewarded for their engagement and participation in specific events or programs related to their favorite games. This shift towards Web3 can create a more sustainable and inclusive esports ecosystem for all involved.

3) Boosting Engagements

Blockchain offers unique features that can help enhance engagement in esports. By using smart contracts and decentralized platforms, we can automate loyalty reward programs and provide real-time reward payouts and redemptions. It can incentivize higher levels of engagement and build stronger relationships between players and game developers.

Moreover, blockchain-based games can create a user identity across all digital touchpoints, making tracking real user interaction with esports streams easier and preventing botting or illegal third-party programs.

For instance, Verasity is a Web3 project that provides infrastructure and tools for video publishers to serve rewarded video and loyalty programs using $VRA for their viewers. It allows for more accessible verification of players' activities and ensures fair distribution of rewards.

4) Easy Crowdfunding

Esports leagues, teams, and players all operate as businesses, but often, obtaining traditional financing entails a loss of equity or high costs.

However, with the rise of decentralized and transparent gaming platforms, crowdfunding through personalized and automated contracts has become a more accessible and efficient option. It allows esports organizations and players to launch their businesses, generate revenue, and utilize blockchain-based products to monitor fan engagement and loyalty.

Some esports organizations have found more embedded and creative ways to help fund efforts. For example, Proton Gaming, a North American and European contender across multiple games, has partnered with Polygon since 2020. Moreover, they are also a validator for the Polygon PoS network. Proton leverages its validator rewards to support its organization, providing fans practical ways to earn and back the team. Besides, MATIC holders can stake their tokens on Proton Gaming’s node or support the team through its native token.

5) Tokenization

The emergence of Web3 game esports has paved the way for team tokenization, enabling fans to purchase team shares via tokens. This approach eliminates the need for traditional corporate sponsors and allows fans to participate in the ownership of their favorite teams while directly raising funds.

By offering a new level of community participation and direct monetization, team tokenization provides fans a unique opportunity to invest in their favorite esports teams. These tokens are tradable freely on an open market, which provides diversification in ownership and liquidity for the team's endeavors.

Additionally, token holders can vote on proposals, ranging from minor details to significant changes, giving them a voice in the team's decision-making process.

Many traditional sports teams, including Arsenal, Manchester City, FC Barcelona, and Juventus, have already embraced this model and created their own fan tokens. So why can't Esports too?

6) Crypto For Prize Money Distribution: The Most Basic Way

According to Dave Harris, the Chief Executive of esports investment firm Guinevere Capital, blockchain has already found its way into the world of amateur esports tournaments.

While he does not anticipate significant titles and pro tournaments adopting the technology shortly, Ivy Fung, executive director of the Esports Players League, sees great potential in using blockchain for prize money distribution.

The company she heads operates a blockchain-based platform that directly delivers prize money through digital assets like NFTs and crypto tokens to the winners' digital wallets.

Fung believes that blockchain simplifies prize money distribution by eliminating obstacles such as cross-border transfer fees charged by banks. She said:

When you're talking about a global tournament, you need an effective way to distribute the prize pool so you don't have to wait for the winner to give us their bank account and then verify all these things"

Unlike traditional funding methods, which can be slow, expensive, and bogged down in paperwork, crypto offers a fast, inexpensive, and borderless solution. By using a global blockchain, tournament organizers can transfer large sums of money to players anywhere in the world almost instantly and for a negligible fee.

Mike Ovecka, Head of Esports at Yield Guild Games (YGG) and former Head of Esports for Hearthstone at Blizzard understands the potential of blockchain to revolutionize the esports experience for players and organizers alike. He points out:

Automatic payments are a huge part of Web3 esports, and it’s not just tournament platforms that can facilitate instant payments. For example, at the AxieCon 2022 tournament, players got the payment right after the tournament was executed. That’s unheard of in web2 Esports.

Moreover, crypto eliminates the need to deal with banks and governments, which can slow down the payout process with strict currency controls or volatile local currencies. With cryptocurrency, players can receive their winnings within minutes of the tournament's end without waiting for funds to clear through bank accounts.

Besides, cryptocurrencies are tradable on exchange platforms, which gives players and organizers greater flexibility to convert them to fiat currency for everyday use.

7) Esports Betting: Another emerging field where crypto shines

Crypto has revolutionized the world of online betting, particularly in esports. One popular betting site for esports, GGBET, allows users to bet on various games, including Dota 2, League of Legends, and Smite.

The decentralized nature of many cryptocurrencies is a crucial factor in their success in esports betting. Unlike traditional forms of currency, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are not controlled by any central authority, making them immune to government interference and financial institutions' scrutiny. This decentralization enables bettors to place wagers without encountering the obstacles and fees associated with traditional banking methods.

Moreover, in the United States, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 has made it challenging for Americans to place esports bets using traditional banking methods. However, with crypto, players can avoid breaking the law and keep their gambling habits confidential. Crypto transactions are also faster and more efficient, allowing instant deposits and withdrawals. It has eliminated the need for players to wait weeks to receive their payouts.

8) Smart Contracts To Ensure Trust

In the 1990s, esports tournaments offered only a meager prize of a few hundred bucks. But now, with consoles selling in the hundreds of millions, mega-tournaments filling stadiums, and professional gamers with legions of adoring fans, the top esports players can earn millions of dollars.

For example, the top-five pro players in DOTA 2 have each earned over $5 million in prize money throughout their careers.

However, there have been instances in the early days of esports where organizations failed to fulfill their promises of prize money, leading to mistrust between event organizers and the pros. This issue was mitigated through word of mouth and esports-related news, and professional teams boycotted leagues that failed to deliver on their promises.

Although most organizers now prioritize delivering promised prize money, there is always a risk that some tournaments or leagues may attempt to defraud their participants. It is where blockchain and smart contracts can come into play, ensuring everyone is paid fairly and securely.

With all that said, Web3 adoption in esports has been slow. Why?

Challenges In Adoption

Despite its potential to transform how esports is played, organized, and monetized, the adoption of blockchain tech in the industry has been slow due to several factors.

  1. Many investors lack a clear understanding of the complex and new technology, leading to a lack of trust and reluctance to invest.

  2. The decentralized nature of blockchain raises regulatory questions, creating uncertainty for investors and stakeholders.

  3. The established nature of the esports industry requires significant investments and resources to integrate new technologies.

  4. The lack of interoperability between different blockchain platforms limits the potential for integration and scalability in the esports industry.

Despite its potential benefits, these factors have hindered the adoption of blockchain tech in the industry.

But now, with how mature Web3 has become, it is only a matter of time before the adoption gains significant traction. We can already see some signs.

Platforms like Proton Gaming have recognized these challenges and are taking steps to promote the adoption of Web3 tech. The team, for instance, leverages its professional players and content creators to test Web3 games and participate in available Web3 esports events- all while sharing its winnings and earnings with its team token holders and providing feedback to the community on the gaming projects.

Managing Director of Proton Gaming, Scott Lilliston, sums it up this way:

“It will always be our goal to build a highly entertaining and engaging esports organization which competes at the highest levels. The two problems we also want to solve are, how do we bring real value and utility to our community and fans and, secondly, how do we help those folks get into Web3 gaming safely and strategically.”

The sentiment expressed by Lilliston is echoed by many in the gaming industry who see the potential of blockchain technology to revolutionize the way players and organizers interact and create value.

For instance, Jason Lake, the founder and CEO of Complexity Gaming and one of the founding fathers of modern esports, shared his views on the potential of blockchain gaming, during his fireside chat at AxieCon, saying

“I believe it’s time to evolve where we all get to share a piece of the pie, where we enjoy digital ownership of the assets that we either earn through hours of grinding or where we spend real fiat on. In my personal opinion, you are on the cusp of the next evolution of esports, which is why I’m really honored to be here — which is why when people in traditional esports look at me and tell me I’m crazy, I feel very much at home, because that makes me feel confident.”

Signs of a Blossoming Bromance!

The esports market is currently valued at $1.64 billion and is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.7% by 2030, making it an exceptionally lucrative industry. With hundreds of millions of fans regularly tuning in to watch their favorite esports players battle it out in games like DOTA, League of Legends, Halo, and FIFA, the prize money for these events can run into the millions.

To a global audience of digital natives, esports is akin to entertainment, what cryptocurrency is to cash - an essential part of the natural order of things. Most of these fans are too young to remember a time when games were offline and physical money was the norm.

Nevertheless, there are signs of a blossoming bromance between esports and Web3, and investors are pouring in to fuel the predicted surge of cryptocurrencies that focus on esports and blockchain gaming. The bond between these industries has already produced profitable results. Popular teams like OG and Team Vitality generate revenue and engage fans by launching crypto fan tokens on the Socios platform, allowing fans to vote on team decisions.

Recent partnerships between cryptocurrency projects and esports teams, such as exchanges and entertainment-based ecosystems, have resulted in towering deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Bybit, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange, is an excellent example of this, having joined forces with the leading esports team Natus Vincere (NAVI), to support the team in tournaments and raise awareness of professional gaming.

The partnership aims to attract more people to professional gaming by offering financial resources and educational opportunities for amateurs who aspire to become professional gamers. It also assists pro gamers in diversifying their portfolio with cryptocurrencies. This partnership significantly boosts the esports industry, as it raises awareness and highlights its potential to onlookers.

ByBit is not alone in recognizing the potential of the esports industry. In 2021, the now-defunct FTX made headlines in the esports world with a massive $210 million deal to partner with Team SoloMid.

Crypto.com has also been making moves in the esports industry, forming a partnership with Fnatic, a leading esports team. In addition, the company also struck a significant deal with Twitch Rivals, an esports tournament series hosted by the popular streaming platform Twitch.

More importantly, the development of Web3 games has brought forth several highly suitable titles for esports tournaments. These titles include Delysium, Phantom Galaxies, Nyan Heroes, Shrapnel, and Gods Unchained.

For instance, Sky Mavis, the company behind Axie Infinity, announced it would be providing a grant of $2.4 million towards esports events on its Web3-based metaverse platform from Q4 2022 through Q2 2023. It paved the way for the MMG Axie Masters League, a Web3 tournament that took place in November 2022 and saw gamers from around the world compete for a staggering $150,000 prize pool.

Besides, a new wave of startups is emerging to break the stronghold of established game publishers and shift the balance of power to esports players and teams. Their vision is to establish a creator-driven economy where players and teams can earn money monetizing their skills and achievements.

Platforms such as MonkeyLeague and EV.io enable individual players to create and participate in games, compete with other gamers, and earn cryptocurrencies as rewards.

Money Gushing In

Since early 2021, a steady stream of crypto deals has been coming in to sponsor esports. Coinbase supported teams such as Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, and BIG, with the latter receiving a "multi-million dollar deal."

Additionally, Uniswap backed Team Secret after receiving approval from a DAO vote, and Coinbase signed on as a sponsor for major tournament operators ESL and BLAST. Last year, Team Vitality welcomed Tezos as its primary sponsor, while Bitstamp, a leading exchange, sponsored teams Immortals and Guild.

In May 2022, STAN, an esports fan engagement startup, raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by General Catalyst, Better Capital, and Eximius Ventures. Meanwhile, AI-based esports video-highlight platform Sizzle.gg also closed a $5 million investment round in the same month, led by White Star Capital.

Besides, FITCHIN, a Web3 esports platform, raised $3.5 million in August 2022 in a seed round featuring business angels in the cryptocurrency world, venture capitalists, gaming personalities, and athletes.

At the same time, PolygonGaming-backed Yesports, a Web3 esports platform, has also raised $3.8 million in its funding round in August 2022 after closing a $2.25 million raise to launch its Esports Metaverse Platform.

Dreamteam, an esports team-building platform, recently secured a $5 million seed round with Mangrove Capital Partners. It has secured partnerships with major industry players, including last year's League of Legends finalists, Fnatic.

On the other hand, Xborg, a Web3 gaming organization from Swissborg, in February 2023, announced the launch of its Web3 esports league, the Xtreme Championship Series, featuring a $100,000 USDC prize pool.

The list goes on and on. Moreover, the total sponsorships (and advertising revenue) in esports are expected to surpass USD 1 billion by 2025.

Investors continue to pour in millions of dollars to support the growth of Web3 gaming and esports, while platforms continue to strike deals with leading entities.

The Pioneers

Undoubtedly, the primary goal of significant blockchain projects in esports is to develop video games that embody the Play-to-Earn ideology and allow users to participate in esports competitions- and thus achieving mass adoption. The companies leading the way in this area include:

  1. Animoca Brands - is a well-known company with over 380 Web3 investments portfolio, including Dapper Labs (NBA Top Shot), Axie Infinity, OpenSea, and others. Animoca Brands has invested in and boosted many esports entities, like Azarus, Communitygaming, Talon, Veloce , Versus Systems, etc.

  1. Sky Mavis - the company behind one of the most popular esports crypto games, Axie Infinity. Axie Infinity is frequently cited as an example of P2E games, emphasizing its importance in blockchain esports.

  2. OpenSea - a platform where users can buy and sell their NFTs, creating opportunities for the emergence of various esports crypto games. Although OpenSea has no games of its own, it generates significant revenue daily and is a critical contributor to the growth of blockchain esports. Moreover, the platform has also invested in esports entities- for instance, Aadil Mamujee from OpenSea, invested in STAN, an esports firm.

  3. Unikrn -a blockchain-based platform that offers betting and gaming services to esports enthusiasts. It employs blockchain technology to ensure that all bets and transactions are transparent and secure. Unikrn has partnerships with numerous major esports leagues and has collaborated with FYX Gaming.

  4. ImmutableX - is one of the fastest-growing gaming blockchains in the Web3 gaming space. The ecosystem has countless AAA-titled games in the making and offers a solution to the significant obstacle of achieving mainstream adoption of blockchain gaming through its Passport.

  5. Polygon - is the go-to-chain for mainstream entities and has restored trust in the blockchain gaming sector through partnerships with industry leaders such as Ubisoft, Square Enix, and other titans.

  6. Chiliz - a blockchain-based ecosystem that allows fans to engage with their favorite esports teams and players. Users can vote on team decisions by purchasing fan tokens, accessing unique merchandise, and participating in exclusive events. Chiliz partners with several major esports teams, including FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

  7. WAX - another blockchain-based ecosystem that enables players to trade and sell in-game items and skins. It provides a secure and transparent system for buying, selling, and trading in-game items, crucial in industries where fraud and cheating are significant concerns. WAX has partnered with several major game developers, including Fortnite and PUBG.

  1. Binance - the leading crypto exchange. Its native blockchain, BNB chain, has partnered with GAIMIN, a decentralized data processing network aimed at gamers. The Web3 gaming platform will collaborate with the data processing network to accelerate the growth of Web3 esports.

Besides, several well-established esports companies are exploring the potential of Web3. One example is TSM, a leading esports team, which has partnered with Avalanche to develop its competitive gaming platform, Blitz.

Through this partnership, TSM plans to hold Avalanche-sponsored tournaments on the Blitz subnet and use Avalanche asset manager Core to facilitate purchasing and storing digital assets. The collaboration aims to attract millions of esports gamers to the world of Web3. TSM's partnership with Avalanche follows the termination of its previous partnership with bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX in November 2022.

Furthermore, leading esports firm ESL partnered with Web3 gaming chain Immutable X, focusing on providing ESL with a scaling infrastructure.

Another instance would be Tier One Entertainment, a major esports company in Asia, which announced its expansion into Web3 with the development of its Alliance program.

This exclusive program aims to create a team of Web3 influencers and personalities to host gaming tournaments for Web3 guilds. Additionally, Tier One plans to launch a gaming-focused launchpad as one of its Web3 platforms.

Moreover, ESPL, a leading player in the esports gaming industry, has also made strides toward Web3 gaming with the launch of ESPL Arena. The platform allows gamers to compete in tournaments and leagues while earning rewards for playing their favorite esports games.

Opportunities, Even From the Niche

Web3 presents immense lucrative opportunities for e-sport organizations. To put it into perspective, let's consider NFT.

Undeniably, NFTs, although integral, are a niche part of Web3.

And yet, Esports organizations view NFTs as an opportunity to connect with fans and generate revenue.

For instance, Yieldly, the first decentralized finance platform in Algorand, partnered with esports clubs Boom Esports and Fact Revolution in August 2021 to explore NFTs in esports. In February 2022, esports team 100 Thieves released 300K Polygon-based NFTs to engage with fans and show appreciation for their support.

Meanwhile, Spececaps, the parent company of esports team Loud, is also exploring Solana-based NFTs and tokenized incentives for fans and play-and-earn gaming. Additionally, Indian start-up Loco has launched Legends, an NFT platform specifically for esports.

Polygon: The Game Changer for Esports?

Amid the plethora of blockchain platforms, Polygon stands out as a champion in Ethereum scaling and infrastructure advancement. The network has made its mark in crypto gaming and NFTs, emerging as a formidable player. Polygon's remarkable speed of growth has demonstrated to the world how rapidly we can embrace Web3.0.

The network has partnered and invested in several esports entities. For instance,

  • Community Gaming: In July 2021, Polygon announced an alliance with Community Gaming to initiate esports tournaments on the Polygon network. It allows users to create custom esports tournaments and earn easily- for instance, The gamers of Axie Infinity Squad received payment in 3 seconds with Polygon's fast transaction speed.

  • Turnt Gaming: In Dec 2021, Turnt Gaming, a disruptive model for NFT-based gaming, announced a collaboration with Polygon Studios and Esports Technologies, Inc to revolutionize the engage-to-earn gaming model to deliver entertainment and long-term value to the community.

  • House of Gaming: In March 2022, House of Gaming, an endeavor to redefine esports, partnered with Polygon. Hefty Games, the collaboration between House of Gaming and Polygon, launched an NFT and commemorated the announcement by joining the Indian Gaming League.

  • FootEarn: Polygon accomplished a strategic partnership with FootEarn in April 2022. FootEarn is an online 3D esports game with engaging gameplay and no mandatory fees required to play.

  • Rooter: In April 2022, Polygon joined hands with Rooter, a video game streaming and eSports platform, to launch a blockchain game streaming program, "Rooter x IndiGG- Creator Program."

  • Yesports: In March 2023, Polygon-backed Yesports launched an esports marketplace alongside 40+ partners to offer a point of difference and value for organizations and games to launch, list, and promote their digital products seamlessly.

Additionally, Polygon has recently forged a partnership with Immutable X, a go-to blockchain for gamers.

Polygon's scaling solutions have garnered widespread adoption, being home to some of the most significant Web3 projects like Aave, Uniswap, and OpenSea.

Moreover, the platform has processed over 2.48 billion transactions and has created 1.18 million smart contracts, catering to 220.8 million unique addresses. Polygon Labs, the team behind the decentralized Polygon protocol, has also started working with gaming companies such as Square Enix, Neowiz, Midnight Society, and Tilting Point.

On the other hand, Immutable X has onboarded Web3 games and initiatives to its platform, collaborating with brands like GameStop, DC Comics, TikTok, Marvel, Disney, and Star Wars. Besides, the platform launched a $500 million fund in June 2022 to drive Web3 gaming adoption further.

Furthermore, ImmutableX's Passport offers a seamless solution to drive the mainstream adoption of blockchain gaming, offering streamlined authentication and user experience.

In 2022 alone, games built on Immutable and Polygon have received nearly $2 billion of cumulative investor funding. Combining Polygon's zero-knowledge technology with Immutable's deep product suite in gaming, they can bring digital ownership to millions worldwide and take Web3 gaming mainstream.

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, the growing adoption of Polygon in the gaming industry could have a similar effect on the esports industry.

As the popularity of blockchain tech in gaming continues to surge, we may see a wave of esports organizations and players turning to Polygon as their go-to blockchain solution.

In this way, Polygon could become the "ocean" that carries the esports "ships" to new heights of success and adoption.

The Intersection of Cryptocurrency and Gaming: A Look into the Future

Crypto and gaming share a natural affinity, originating from the computer revolution as rebellious outsiders. However, while video games have primarily shed their controversial image, crypto still faces, fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

The main difference between them is time. With the release of Bitcoin in 2009, crypto is a much younger industry than video games, which dates back to the 1970s and early 1980s- with prototypes even as early as the 1950s and 1960s.

As the technology matured, gaming powered up companies like Sony (SNE), which generated over $25 billion in 2020 from its flagship console, PlayStation, and its surrounding software services. Over a timeframe of more than 50 years, the gaming industry has grown into the mega-business it is today.

Sony has even filed a patent application that could revolutionize the gaming industry, allowing seamless transfer of NFTs between different games and consoles. Look how far we have come!

Despite the widespread acceptance of video games today, it is essential to remember the controversies that plagued the industry at various points in its history. Critics once claimed that video games contributed to children's laziness and social isolation and were even associated with violence.

In the 1980s, the so-called Satanic Panic cast a shadow over the industry, and in the 1990s, politicians and lawyers began targeting video game makers with lawsuits. The infamous Columbine High School massacre in 1999 further stoked fears about the potential dangers of video games, leading to lawsuits against multiple game companies. Even in 2023, there are still attempts to regulate video games, with the U.S. Congress proposing legislation to ban the sale of violent games to minors last year.

The shift in perception towards video games happened gradually over time. In the 2000s, more prominent entities, such as the Surgeon General, spoke out against the notion that video games were linked to violence, stating that factors like home life and mental health were more significant.

In 2011, the Supreme Court even declared a California law that banned violent video games for minors unconstitutional. As hundreds of millions of people played video games without incident, the negative perception surrounding them gradually dissipated.

This shift in public opinion is not unique to video games but is instead a typical pattern in the history of technology. After all, nascent innovations, from telephones to VHS tapes, have often been met with fear and distrust by those in power before becoming widely accepted.

Today, Web3 is in the crosshairs, with Nobel Prize winners criticizing it, numerous governments outlawing it or banning it, outspoken social media reactionaries, and opponents working to have it restricted.

However, like video games, crypto will eventually shift from a controversial outsider to a mainstream staple. It will mature, becoming faster, safer, and more intelligent, with built-in password reset capabilities and stronger wallet protections. It will become so easy to use that anyone, even your Grandma, can set it up.

The same kids who used crypto on the Darknet or to trade with friends will grow up to shape the policies and technologies of the future, just as they did with video games.

The growth of industries and technologies can be unpredictable, as a small niche industry can suddenly become worth billions. It happened with esports and will happen with Web3 too.

Emerging Web3 Esports Tournaments and Competitions: a Sneak Peak

Undoubtedly, Web3 esports is a rapidly growing industry that is attracting a lot of attention. And the recent execution of various initiatives and events is proof of its growing adoption.

For instance, in November 2022, W3E hosted the world's first LAN Web3 esports tournament at Istanbul Blockchain Week. The event occurred at the ESA Esports Arena in the heart of Istanbul.

It featured game showcases, demo testing, exclusive announcements from developers, and a nail-biting competition in one of the most popular Web3 games worldwide. The tournament's league partner was EV.io, a first-person shooter set in a series of futuristic arenas and one of the most popular games on the Solana.

In addition to the tournament, W3E hosted the world's first Web3 gaming expo on the sidelines. Attendees had the opportunity to witness emerging projects, test upcoming Web3 games, and network with the development team.

W3E's team lead, Damian Bartlett, commented:

"Esports has always been about pushing the boundaries and rewarding the best gamers. Web3 is the natural progression for competitive gaming and as more titles are released, we will see a larger audience experiencing these games. The technology will allow the audience to be closer to their favorite players than ever before."

Similarly, IndiGG, a leading Web3 Gaming DAO, announced the 'IndiGG Web3 Championship' and launched the world's first eSports athlete reputation program alongside. The championship commenced in Bengaluru and spanned various Indian cities, including Kolkata, Pune, Chennai, NCR, and Dhaka, with the finals to be held in Hyderabad in November 2023.

The community is in charge of hosting and managing the championship, while the IndiGG clan chiefs execute the event from start to finish. Moreover, the tournament offered a total prize pool of USD 200k across all legs. The community chose 'EV.io' and 'Thetan Arena' as the championship games, with 'Venture X Gaming' as the title sponsor for the event.

In another instance, the esports gaming marketplace Moxy.io launched its 'Esports For All' Beta Challenge, which allowed gamers to compete in esports-style gaming and earn various rewards, including Moxy tokens, collectibles, and up to $100,000 in cash. Gamers will compete against each other over four seasons, with season 2 currently underway.

Sura Gaming is another prime example of a trailblazer in the intersection of Web3 gaming and esports, striving to expand the gaming sphere through Web3 integration, education and epic events. Jeffrey Zirlin (Jihoz), Co-Founder & Growth Lead - Sky Mavis/Axie Infinity endorsed Sura and is an advisor. Keep reading for exclusive, invaluable insights straight from the Sura Gaming team.

As Web3 tech continues to evolve, the esports industry will experience significant growth, bringing digital ownership and new experiences to gamers worldwide.

Sura Gaming - Insights from the Pioneers of Web3 Gaming and Esports

At Yoda Labs, we're dedicated to delivering the most insightful content in the industry, and we're thrilled to feature an interview with the Sura Gaming team - experts from the core of the gaming space. Get ready for exclusive, invaluable insights from the very forefront of the industry.

Overall, Sura Gaming is a blockchain gaming driven community and family acting as a bridge between games and gamers providing tools, education, training, digital assets and opportunities to compete in gaming tournaments.

Sura Gaming in numbers currently

Axie Infinity esports team: 19 people

Content creation team: +26 people

Scholars: +500 people (peak +1500)

Games played and open for scholarship: + 15

Yoda: How did you end up forming Sura?

We started investigating Axie Infinity in 2021 and offered scholarships to friends and friends of friends. Due to the immense amount of scholarship requests, they partnered with a software company and IALAB (AI Innovation Lab of Buenos Aires University) to develop a platform that allowed us to recruit and select candidates with AI more efficiently. We were able to recruit, select, analyze hard and soft skills, train & evaluate people in 60 minutes and with 90% of automated processes with the help of this technology.

This also opened the door for us to detect different skills in the members of our community, and we were able to understand that there were different opportunities for different profiles. We also began creating content, providing tools and training, and today we have more than 25 content creators working for Sura. Likewise, we detected that there were Axie players who stood out, and we understood that there were innate skills in players that went hand in hand with a game that, as time went by, became more competitive. That's where our team of pro players was born, who today represent us in the most important Web3 Gaming tournaments in the world.

As the popularity of Web3 gaming skyrocketed, more people joined Sura Gaming, leading to the company's organic growth and transformation. Sura recognized that their users wanted more than just making money; they also sought a sense of community and belonging. Sura provided coaching, support, and educational experiences through their Discord channels, training program, and specialized strategies for Axie composition. Users could even learn from the strategies that we had designed specifically for each kind of Axie composition. Playing at Sura became an educational experience that offered access to a community of players who shared a sense of belonging. We developed a training program that was designed to help our users develop their skills and provide them with the support they needed to succeed. The end result was a thriving community of gamers who shared a sense of camaraderie and a passion for Web3 gaming. All of this happened gradually and without a strict plan, and new horizons began to appear to us.

Yoda: How are your numbers mentioned above linked to your vision and mission and also the future potential of Sura?

We believe that players enjoy being part of a community and we offer opportunities to access Web3 games in better conditions. Being a part of the Sura community provides a sense of belonging and numerous advantages such as assets, passes, coaching, access to alpha/beta versions or access to exclusive tournaments that cannot be obtained otherwise.

Where are we heading? We are constantly having more and more people within the community and enriching it with more games and more interactions, not only online but also with IRL events.

We are committed to contribute to the mass adoption of Web3 games globally and help it reach its full potential. We have been building and expanding our team of players, admin and content creators aligned with our vision.

Yoda: What is your business model? And do you have any backing by a fund or an ecosystem etc.? What are the returns for your scholars?

Sura has been fully funded by its founders up to this point, and we don't currently have any VC behind us. Nevertheless, we've been able to create a huge Web3 gaming ecosystem, even bigger than most gaming guilds that received millions of dollars in funding. Within this ecosystem, we have partnerships with the most important games on the market, a content creation division with over 25 people, which includes a unique partnership with Paramount. Additionally, we are also working together with other companies like Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok.

We also have a first-class esports team that represents us in the most important tournaments around the world. We have more than 20 professional players, a head coach, two coordinators, and a sports psychologist.

Furthermore, we work in cooperation with Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA) to evangelize about Web3 gaming in Spanish-speaking markets, even representing BGA at various events held in Spanish-speaking countries like Spain, Uruguay, Peru & Argentina. We have been called upon to curate gaming spaces at various crypto-blockchain events worldwide, where we develop gaming stages with panels and speakers that are relevant to the entire Web3 gaming ecosystem, games showcases and gaming arenas for LAN finals. Soon, we will launch our own exclusive events solely focused on Web3 gaming, where we will also include Web2 games to try to bring more people from the gaming world into blockchain.

One special thing to mention is Sura's involvement in the video game development world through Gamevolution, one of the world's first blockchain gaming incubators. We currently have eight projects and plan to have 30 or 40 by mid-year.

Overall, Sura has built a comprehensive and integrated ecosystem in the Web3 gaming industry, which not only focuses on the play and earn model but also provides community, coaching, support, and educational opportunities. Our goal is to continue expanding our community, enriching it with more games and interactions not only online but also through IRL events.

Sura is soon to launch the custom made web-app for the integration of all business units. This new piece of technology will be AI based and will include quests, tournaments, benefits and rewards, that we plan to integrate with social media and any 3rd party App. This will also allow us to better integrate with other gaming guilds in different parts of the world, creating a super powerful Web3 gaming ecosystem and most importantly, to better understand what people in our community enjoy the most. Regarding the scholarship programs, the return for scholars in most games is very low, while there are some games with better returns than others, it's not what it was in 2021. Anyway, people are still looking to play at Sura for the rest of the perks.

Yoda: Are you actively participating in Web3 esports tournaments? When do you think we’ll start noticing the full potential of Web3 esports?

Yes, absolutely! Sura is actively participating in Web3 esports tournaments. Currently, the biggest tournaments with LAN finals are the Axie Infinity ones, and we have a team competing in those tournaments (with great results). Additionally, we participate in smaller online tournaments for other games with smaller prize pools and always having Sura team members on the ladder of each one.

In terms of potential for Web3 esports, we see a lot of room for growth and innovation in this space. As more games are developed on Web3 platforms and more players join the ecosystem, the potential for larger and more lucrative tournaments will increase. However, in order to create a truly successful and sustainable Web3 esports scene, there must be more people playing, more people watching that will lead the sponsorship to get their feet into this pot as they are doing on Web2.

Last November during the Labitconf event, the biggest blockchain conference in Latin America, we successfully introduced esports the way we believe it must be done. A highly energetic and entertaining event, with online qualifiers open globally, USD 40K prize pool, streaming with online casters in 4 languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English and Tagalog), LAN finals with players from Argentina, Colombia, México, Peru & Venezuela and coverage provided by Paramount and a TV Studio on site. It was an unforgettable experience for both players and spectators. We believe that incorporating esports into such events is a fantastic way to showcase the potential of the industry and attract new audiences to this exciting world.

2023 and 2024 will be the year where esports and Web3 games will explode and we believe that this kind of involvement, investment and innovation is necessary for the growth. As Sura, we are excited to continue to participate and help drive this growth in the future.

Yoda: And as a final question on the future state of esports, blockchain and crypto, where do you see this heading?

The future of esports, blockchain, and crypto is full of potential. Blockchain technology can enable more secure and transparent transactions, making it easier for players, teams, and tournament organizers to operate efficiently. The use of crypto can also bring new revenue streams and financial incentives for players and teams, and it could potentially create more opportunities for players from around the world to participate in global competitions.


Esports and cryptocurrency have much in common, from their tech-savvy global audiences to their potential for great success. The two industries may even have a future that is intertwined.

As with all technologies throughout history, the evolution of video games and crypto will follow familiar paths - but with new twists.

Esports has already achieved massive adoption, so much so that even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced plans to enter the scene with the Olympic Esports Series.

As esports continues to grow and expand, it is destined to serve as a catalyst for the broader adoption of Web3 gaming and crypto in the society. Finally, without a doubt, we are to start noticing the full potential of Web3 gaming and crypto in a more visible by 2024 way which esports can unlock.