An eSports start-up that operates with high schools in mind, recently received $15 million in funding from a Series A funding round. PlayVS is a privately owned organisation that has an aim to see eSports grow uniquely, with its focus on the younger generation.
In April this year, the company approached the National Federation of State Schools Association (NFHS) seeking recognition to mobilise high school eSports players interested in participating in organised competitions. The NFHS is the federal body tasked with organising high school sports competitions in the US. After the success of their first engagement, PlayVS and the NFHS agreed to launch eSports in high schools officially.
The partnership between PlayVS and NFHS states that the inaugural high school eSports season will be launched later this year in October 2018 with an anticipated twenty states participating. The two parties are hoping that at least 5 million students and 5,000 schools across all these states will be reached by the end of the first season. The season will focus predominantly on sports games, fighting games, and multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBAs).
The high school eSports season is to be split into two phases; the first one runs from October 2018 to January 2019, while the second is set for kick off between February to May 2019. It is the states that will determine the games to be played in a season and games such as Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has already been completely ruled out from the selection. While there are no money trades on the table between PlayVS and NFHS as of now, every high school student participating in the eSports season will have to pay an entrance fee which has not been pegged but widely believed to be below a mere price of $20.
The Funders behind the Gig
The Series A funding round was fronted by the New Enterprise Associates. However, there were also other investors including New York Jets player Kelvin Beachum, Kelvin Lin, the COO of Twitch, NBA All-Star Baron Davies, the San Francisco 49ers, Nas, and Michael Dublin, the co-founder of Dollar Shave Company.
PlayVS’ funding is a huge landmark in the online gaming industry as it’s the largest that has been raised by a black founder in the consumer internet industry.
A Word from the Founder
The founder of PlayVS, Delane Parnell, said that eSports played a huge part when he was growing up as a kid. It prevented him from partaking in activities that would otherwise have destroyed his life. He said that it is through eSports that he developed an interest in technology; something which has seen him forge a successful life. Parnell expressed hope that the eSports high school season is going to be a massive success for everyone involved including the government at large, including schools, parents and the students themselves. He went on to say that eSports possess the power to change the world by ensuring that students desist from doing anything that may end up destroying their lives.