Fantasy sports is huge. The USA is famous for their love of fantasy sports, while the UK’s love for fantasy sports has grown with the popularity of the Premier League fantasy league. With esports being such an evolving medium, with a young demographic and fans who are always switched on, fantasy esports would seem like the perfect fit.
We had the chance to speak with Rossi Biddle, Co-Founder and CEO of FantasyEsports.GG about their ‘free-to-play, non-wagering fantasy esports platform’ and what is in store for the future.
Esports Insider: Firstly, could you introduce yourself and FantasyEsports.GG
Rossi Biddle: I’m Rossi Biddle, Co-Founder and CEO of FantasyEsports.gg. FantasyEsports.gg is a new non-wagering fantasy esports platform aiming to dominate the industry with interactive live experiences, unique fantasy challenges, and rewarding prize packs.
The mission is to enrich the esports viewing experience by adding additional layers of depth and engagement through regular challenges, analytics, and industry involvement. By encouraging an emotional connection to teams and athletes we believe we can increase the profile of the esports athletes and provide the fans with an experience that has never been delivered before.
One of the main reasons for non-wagering is that the majority of the esports audience is either below the age to wager or don’t have the disposable income to wager. We saw this as an opportunity and didn’t want to offer a service that cut the majority of the community out of playing. Our platform allows everyone, young and old, to play and be emotionally involved with esports.
ESI: You started just a year ago, how far has the company come in that time?
Rossi: The conversation started around 2 ½ years ago when our CMO Vince Amatuzzi was visiting Australia from the US and we started talking about fantasy sports and the lack of an equivalent in the esports industry. Fast-forward to a strategic introduction to Ryan Wilson (co-owner of the Bombers League of Legends team in Australia and our Chief Gaming Officer), and between the 3 of us, we’ve designed, developed, and deployed the most sophisticated fantasy esports platform available.
What we have built in such a short space of time is a one-stop destination for esports fan to visit and play. Similar to traditional fantasy sports, you create an account, select your players while staying under the salary cap provided, and watch as your selected team performs. To assist players through that process, our Research Center has up-to-date team and player profiles, stats, and salary cap information to allow the user to research each player and determine the ideal selection.
Our live experience streams from Twitch and YouTube for each League of Legends region, and while sitting back and watching live on our site, the user can monitor player stats, their fantasy score at the completion of each match, and track the leaderboard to know what they need to win. Lastly, we are partnering with amazing companies like Vertagear (gaming chairs) and Woojer (haptic feedback devices) to provide esports fans with prize packs they will love as well as League of Legends gift cards for those all-important Riot Points.
ESI: Fantasy sports is huge in the US while growing in the UK and Europe. How big of a market is esports inside the fantasy league market, especially with esports younger demographic?
“The fantasy esports market is still emerging, which puts us in a strong position to establish and listen to how the community wants to interact and play”
Rossi: The fantasy esports market is still emerging, which puts us in a strong position to establish and listen to how the community wants to interact and play. Our League of Legends game has been designed by gamers for gamers, and our scoring algorithm (FEGG Score) allows each player to be rewarded for actually playing their role in the game, not just the standard 3 points for a kill, -1 for death, etc. that you find with wagering platforms.
Fans don’t have legacy support like traditional sports – you don’t support Fnatic or 100 Thieves because of family history or season tickets. Esports fans typically follow specific players, however fantasy esports provides the important element of emotional attachment. On a Monday at work, school, or on social channels, you will hear people talking about their fantasy quarterback, and how they won or lost their fantasy league game over the weekend, or how a defender made a silly tackle and gave away a penalty to rob their team of a clean sheet. This can turn into either a positive or negative emotional attachment to players and results in further debate around performance. Fantasy scores within traditional sports are seen as benchmarks for success and failure, irrespective of the impact on your favourite teams’ result.
With our FEGG score being directly associated with roles and responsibilities within the game, we believe that this will become the way fans, commentators, and teams discuss, measure, and analyze the success of a player.
ESI: How different is fantasy esports to traditional fantasy sport?
Rossi: There aren’t many differences for the user. What happens with professional players in the arena or on the screen results in a score that determines whether you win a prize, or need to rethink your strategy and try again the following week. The issue isn’t necessarily what’s different, but what experiences are available for esports fans? Many of the features taken for granted in traditional fantasy sports haven’t been applied to fantasy esports (recent and historical player stats, detailed scoring algorithms, robust live features) and we’re committed to creating the best possible platform while delivering an authentic experience for esports fans.
We’ve also seen the demand within fantasy sports lead to an increase in viewership and the major leagues have taken notice. The NFL started Red Zone and MLB started Strike Zone to show the most important scoring plays (which also affect the fantasy experience). Now I don’t expect esports to get to that level overnight, however having a better fantasy experience available across the most popular titles will result in fantasy esports catching up with traditional sports rapidly.
ESI: Right now you offer League of Legends, with CSGO, Overwatch and Dota 2 to come. What have you learned from League and how will that impact future Fantasy titles?
“The idea that a support, jungler, and top lane player would all be rewarded the same for a kill or assist with no regard for role or responsibility just doesn’t make sense.”
Rossi: Having a member of the leadership group who owns a League of Legends team gave us an insight into how the community operates and communicates. It allowed us to ask the community what was missing from existing fantasy esports experiences, and the resounding response was scoring. A scoring system that was properly reflective of how League of Legends is played kept coming up as the biggest innovation fans wanted to see.
The idea that a support, jungler, and top lane player would all be rewarded the same for a kill or assist with no regard for role or responsibility just doesn’t make sense. You can’t properly measure performance or impact with only 5 or 6 data points. Our system uses 27 data points and unique weights for each role to deliver a much more authentic experience. With this in mind, our future titles will get the same treatment and have the unique, detailed scoring systems so that the community can discuss FEGG Scores across the different titles.
ESI: How big is the challenge of going from a MOBA like League to a shooter/round based esport like CSGO?
Rossi: From a platform perspective, there isn’t a big difference going from a MOBA to an FPS. We’ll continue to use the best data available and develop scoring systems that accurately reflect the game being played. Also, because we are a non-wagering platform, we can spend a little extra time confirming what happened on the screen is accurately reflected in the scoring. As opposed to wagering companies, we don’t have to rely on real-time data, allowing us to use additional data points, confirm the data accuracy, and allocate a score to an action within the game. With FPS games, for example, we have the time to track where shots missed their targets and where they ended up which could affect scores in a way that wagering platforms simply can’t respond to.
ESI: What is next for FantasyEsports, we know about the new titles but can users expect anything else?
Rossi: Our roadmap is fluid at the moment and will be driven by the community and their feedback, however, something we will be bringing to the community is our “What’s your FEGG Score?” feature.
With our FEGG score gaining traction within the community, we want to give the players a chance to see how they are performing compared to the professional players. We know esports fans are aspirational, often believing they can be as good as the professional players, so we want to give them the opportunity to back that up (from a FEGG Score point of view anyway). When we release Phase 2, our users will be able to use their Summoner Name and Match ID to get their FEGG Score and see a detailed breakdown of which professional players they are most similar to.
Continuing to innovate with features like this will put significant distance between FantasyEsports.gg and every other fantasy esports platform.
ESI: If you could pitch FantasyEsports to anyone considering signing up, what would you say to them?
Rossi: We’re not another run-of-the-mill fantasy esports site; we’ve created a unique and rewarding platform that will be the benchmark that all other platforms will attempt to reach. If you’re a hardcore gamer, esports fan, or just interested in learning more about what the esports phenomenon is all about, we invite you to create an account, research the players, learn about the scoring, and most importantly play for free and win cool s#it.