Vulcun raises $12 Million for fantasy eSports

Rod Breslau
Thumbnail image courtesy of Vulcun

Vulcun, the fantasy eSports site that launched with over $1 Million in prize money for competing fans, has announced a partnership with Sequoia and raised a $12 million Series A round of financing.

Investors from all over tech space have contributed to the investment in fantasy eSports, including Mark Pincus of Zynga, Joe Kraus at Google Ventures, and Steven Fan at Yahoo. They are joined by Naval Ravikant (Angellist), Kevin Chou (Kabam), Lars Buttler (Trion), Kevin Moore, Edward Fu, Matrix Partners, Universal Music Group, Battery Ventures, CAA, and Crosscut Ventures.

"eSports as an industry has married to a certain level where outside investment becomes viable", Vulcun CEO Ali Moiz told theScore eSports. "Top line viewer growth, multiple successful titles, and a proven fantasy model in traditional sports make investing on what we do possible."

With over a million dollars in launch prize money up for grabs by eSports fans worldwide, Moiz assures that this new financing will keep Vulcun's prize pool above its debut year.

"Vulcun Prize pools are never going lower", Moiz said pointedly. "Only higher from here. "

Moiz's statements are backed up by both his partners and the participating investors.

"We really believe in the long-term potential of eSports and Fantasy Leagues", said Sequoia partner and Vulcun board member Omar Hamoui in a press release. "Vulcun allows fans to participate in the thrill of competitive gaming at the highest levels, without the need to go pro. Vulcun founders Ali & Murti have a strong background in running a successful eSports team, and passionately believe in what they do."

"eSports leagues will be the NFLs of the 21st century, with truly global fanbases and games that today's youth relate to," added Josh Hannah, partner at Matrix Partners. "Tournaments for eSports already draw larger live audiences that most traditional sports, and are just in their infancy. Vulcun.com provides the connection between fans and the emerging stars and teams in eSports."

The site currently supports over a dozen global leagues in League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Vulcun says in the 11-weeks since launch, they have awarded $760,000 in prizes over 6.7 million player picks and 858,000 teams created. Vulcun has partnered with several former professional League of Legends players, including Joedat "Voyboy" Esfahani and Michael "Imaqtpie" Santana.

Moiz says that while League of Legends has seen the most activity, it's a bit too early to tell for Dota 2 and CS:GO that have less leagues. Moiz admits that while the next games for the platform are not yet planned, Hearthstone and Smite are being looked at.

Last week, it was reported that fantasy sports giants DraftKings and FanDuel were in the process of raising hundreds of millions of dollars to land near billion-dollar valuations. While the traditional sports industry is way ahead of the curve in this field, Moiz is confident in Vulcun's ability to come in and own the space along with those giants.

"eSports fantasy is much smaller than traditional sports fantasy, but even today, I'd say we're in the top 25 of all fantasy sports sites", he said. 

"This is 11 weeks from launch, so eSports rocks."

Cosplayer of the Week: Katrina Fox

theScore esports Staff 15h ago

Los Angeles-based cosplayer Katrina Fox might be best known for her awesome depictions of characters like Katarina and Jynx from League of Legends, but the 25-year-old is also a writer for iCosplay Magazine, a non-profit magazine that celebrates the art of cosplaying.

"Cosplay is such an important thing to me because it has helped me and so many others become more confident with ourselves, make great and lasting friendships, experience a different side of life and people as well as stretch my abilities and push myself to learn more and be the best ME I can be," she wrote in her Patreon profile.

Check out some of her best cosplays below.

Poison Shot by @carlosgphotos #poison #capcom #streetfighter #cosplay #feoranna

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Norm Kelly on esports: 'It's a sport in my eyes. So I admire the guys that do it well, just as I admire guys that play football well or hockey'

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Lucas Oleniuk / Toronto Star / Getty

Toronto city councillor Norm Kelly has built a sizeable Twitter following thanks to his love of hip-hop and pop culture, but the 75-year-old politician inadvertently dipped his toes into esports when he shared an image of a FaZe Clan fan messaging him "FaZe Up" on a frequent basis.

Though Kelly may not be familiar with FaZe's quick-scoping montages, he says that esports has enormous potential in Toronto. As a member of the city's Economic Development Committee, he told theScore esports he would ask staff to look into ways they can help promote esports.

"Everything at city hall starts with a reports staff, so I'm gonna ask them to do the research and come back to committee to tell us how we can play a role in growing the sport here in the city," he said.

"I mean, this is the fourth largest city in North America. And so when you're that big, when you're that important, I think it's critical that the city engage itself in trends that are beginning to emerge. We gotta be, if you can't be at the head of the curve you gotta be as close to it as possible."

Though not a city typically associated with esports, the 2016 NA LCS summer finals in Toronto managed to sell out the Air Canada Centre, home arena of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in August. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is reportedly looking to double down on esports, with the company's COO Dave Hopkinson recently telling SportTechie that the Toronto Raptors are eager to field a team in the upcoming NBA 2K eLeague.

RELATED: NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software to launch NBA 2K eLeague

"I think that it's really important for the city government to understand what's going on out there in the field of sports and entertainment and do its best to reinforce it and help grow it. I think the Raptors initiative is fabulous," Kelly said of the report.

Though not a gamer himself, Kelly says he has great respect for how the medium has grown, as well as for the athletes who are currently competing in esports.

"When I grew up in Toronto, it was all outdoor sports. We played baseball in the summer, football in the fall, hockey in the winter. But when I became a parent, the electronic revolution was just taking off and today, all the games that one can play electronically are amazing," he said.

"I understand what it takes to focus, to participate successfully, it's a sport in my eyes. So I admire the guys that do it well, just as I admire guys that play football well or hockey. [They've] got super talent, so I not only admire them, I'm jealous! I wish I had it too."

While he says he hasn't had the time to try his at hand at first-person shooters, the Scarborough—Agincourt councillor warns that he could be quite handy with an AWP if given the chance.

"My dad was in the RCAF during the second World War and he taught air crews how to handle small weapons, so the guys in my family have a good eye," Kelly said. "And man, I wish I had the time to participate in some of the war games, because frankly I think I would do pretty well."

No doubt, Marcelo "coldzera" David and Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev had best watch their backs.

Sasha Erfanian is running through the 6ix with his woes. Follow him on Twitter.

Gerard Piqué announces new esports project

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of REUTERS/Susan Vera / Action Images

Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué is entering the world of esports with a new project that looks to combine esports and football called eFootball.Pro, Piqué announced Tuesday.

Few details regarding the project have been revealed, though its website states Piqué is hiring a variety of people to "create the future of football in eSports," with open positions for competition, content creation and marketing, business and event management listed.

Piqué currently plays for FC Barcelona as a centre-back, alongside the Spanish national team.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Esports Arena to debut mobile esports truck

by
Thumbnail image courtesy of ELC Gaming

Esports will be hitting North American roads this summer with Esports Arena Drive, a 53-foot customized truck that can transform into an esports stage in a few hours, Esports Arena announced Wednesday.

The truck, called Esports Arena Drive, will transform into an esports stage and studio in less than two hours and will include a competition stage, production facilities and a lounge, among other features.

“Esports Arena Drive will be able to connect our existing [arenas] to all regions across the country, launch nationwide tours, amplify existing esports events, and even bring esports to non-gaming events in one streamlined operation,” Paul Ward, co-founder and CEO of Esports Arena, said in a statement. “Esports Arena Drive will provide a new and unique experience to the North American esports industry.”

Ward confirmed to theScore esports that there will be no title limitations for Esports Arena Drive. Event dates and locations will be announced at a later date.

The North American truck is modeled after Big Betty, a similar truck operated in Europe by Esports Arena's sister-company ELC Gaming. That truck made its debut at gamescom 2016. The rig hosted the $25,000 Euro Esports Superstars Hearthstone tournament in December, which was won by Thijs "Thijs" Molendijk.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Cosplayer of the Week: Yaya Han

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Kyle Nishioka / Flickr

In 1999, Anime Expo unwittingly played host to a future star of the cosplay industry. Of course, at the time, there was no way of knowing that 17-year-old Yaya Han would go on to become one of the industry's most iconic figures nearly two decades later.

Focusing on fun and creativity, Yaya pays homage to her favorite characters in every cosplay she creates.

Otakon

In 2005, Yaya took the plunge and jumped into the world of cosplay full-time, transitioning from casual cosplayer to costume commissioner as her sole source of income.

"My business has slowly, painfully, amazingly developed into a variety of branches," Yaya told Nerd Bastard's Luke Gallagher in 2014. She went on to explain how she felt uncomfortable with calling herself a "professional cosplayer" but expressed pride in how the cosplay scene had grown into an economic industry.

A post shared by Yaya Han (@yayahan) on

It's undeniable that Yaya's brand has sprouted off in many directions. With a branding deal with Jo-Ann Fabrics, her own line of accessories and a comic book series based on Yaya's electricity-manipulating original character, there is seemingly no area within cosplay that Yaya will not explore. She has also starred in several shows including Syfy's Heroes of Cosplay, and was brought on as a guest judge for season two of TBS's competition show King of the Nerds.

Junko Enoshima - #DanganRonpa Costume made by @yayahan Photo by Iconiq #cosplay #junkoenoshima #yayahan

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Like many other prominent cosplayers, Yaya has often received flak for being a "sexy cosplayer". In 2014, she admitted the growth of the cosplay community has likely allowed for more criticisms and body shaming but, in an interview with Playboy in 2015, explained that she feels confidence is key to soaring above the negativity.

"I think it is very empowering for women to be confident. I don’t believe showing skin or being sexy is objectifying a woman, I think it’s actually the opposite," Yaya told Playboy.

"That’s why I’ve never felt the need to do a gender bend, to change a male character into a female. I’m always about representing strong female characters."

Yaya's confidence shines through in every cosplay she presents. Whether it's a body-armored Batgirl or a skin-tight Psylocke, the pride she takes in her cosplays is obvious, lending an attitude that is uniquely Yaya to each of her characters.

A post shared by Yaya Han (@yayahan) on

Sometimes that confidence in her designs comes at a cost: time. In her interview with Nerd Bastards, Yaya expressed the extra difficulties in cosplays like as her Dark Elf, Banshee Queen Enira, Batgirl, Carmilla and Oruha.

"All of them had challenges such as fussy materials to sew, weird props, weird wigs, weird wings, new techniques to be learned," said Yaya, "and for all of them, I pulled multiple all-nighters to finish the project."

A post shared by Yaya Han (@yayahan) on

On her Facebook page, Yaya states that she believes cosplay is "the ultimate form of Creativity, and a sincere form of expression for fans and artists alike." Her appearances at major conventions as a featured guest and willingness to take on projects like creating an accessories line have been criticized as money-grabbing, but that is far from the truth.

Yaya speaks about her passion and love of cosplay every chance she gets. She doesn't shy away from opportunities to better the community or expand its reach, and always creates her cosplays with dedication and love of the character in mind.

A post shared by Yaya Han (@yayahan) on

One of her most recent projects allowed her to find a middle ground between her love of anime and video games: Camilla from Fire Emblem: Heroes. While her early cosplays are focused on anime and manga, where her cosplay roots lay, Yaya has switched gears and taken on more video game and comic book characters in recent years.

A post shared by Yaya Han (@yayahan) on

League of Legends has inspired several cosplays for Yaya. In her own words, Ashe's Heartseeker skin "won [her] over the minute it came out!" In 60 hours, she created everything down to the gold trimming on the costume, with help from Kamui Cosplay on the bow.

Since debuting Heartseeker Ashe in 2014, she has re-worn the cosplay several times at major conventions. Her Warring Kingdoms Katarina and Arcade Miss Fortune cosplays have also received praise and accolades.

A post shared by Yaya Han (@yayahan) on

"Cosplay is an art form, a dedicated passionate unique art form and it requires so much focus and dedication," Yaya said in her final statement to Playboy.

"I really wish people would understand that aspect more."

Today's mood. (Photo by @awesomebenny)

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If you want to follow Yaya as she carves a new path for cosplay, check out her social media here:

Kristine "Vaalia" Hutter is a news editor and resident cosplay geek at theScore esports. You can find her on Twitter.

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